Author Archives: dotbaz

Week 16 on OSM – From Essen to Blue Seas and Bicycles

Its been a little while… Holidays and all that, but at least a tiny bit of Portugal is now mapped, and I’ve found out conclusively that my kids don’t find it amusing anymore to drive twice round a roundabout!

The Essen developers Workshop has been and gone (it has been a while!). A great weekend by the sound of it – pick up the results here – and if you wondered what happened to the code in subversion, a big restructuring (for the better!) happened. The code’s still there, but more logically laid out. It will be interesting to see what will come out of the UK workshop in Oxford next weekend.

Its been a good week for the osmarender layer on coastlines, again brought up at the Essen workshop. The threads Blue sea tiles, speckled oceans, & too much blue give an indication. So, thanks to Frederick’s work on a pre-processor to handle colouring of coastline tiles the coast is looking rather spiffing. Its great that (I guess) everyone who lives near the coast or had an interest in a bit of coastline made sure the coastline ways were fixed for their area (I know I did!). In fact its been such a good week for osmarender that there was a suggestion to create a separate osmarender-dev mailing list for it!

With a nod to Shakespeare, the thread titled: Users, contributors and developers, (… I come to bury columns; not to praise them) is worth a read in that it covers some of the ethos of OSM and how the simple approach to mapping is working very well. It then goes on to discuss the idea of a ‘third column’ to give namespaces to attributes that was brought up at the Essen workshop.

Watch out for The Rails Port of the server/API coming to a machine near you real soon! Announced by Nick Black on dev. This is going to have a big impact on OSM pretty quickly as its going to make it much easier for the devvers to tinker quickly in a safe environment.

Everyone loves animations!?! Dave has been making snapshots of progress on London over the last 6 months. You’ll have to follow the link to go to the animation.

Placenames disappearing! Its been discussed for a while, but David Earl noticed as you zoom in the slippy map that different names appear and disappear. Its a general problem with what to render at different levels, but it is an interesting discussion on what should be rendered at what level, and what should be considered important for rendering.

Languages for streetnames… The thread on Bilingual street names is a useful discussion on how to tag streets where there are two languages spoken, particularly where in some regions one of the languages is rarely used (we are talking parts of Wales here). Surprised there were no comments about Canada….

If you are one of the out-on-the road mapping types its frustrating to have to stop/start to make notes of a road, the streetname or whatever, so if you have a PDA running windows mobile, you might want to look at the thread on Audio mapping with a PDA and the wiki page that came out of it here.

Maplint I guess is the first really specialised map, but dare I say it, rather geeky! But – hey – that’s what its all about – very specific maps for specific purposes. Now with better cycle-specific tagging being discussed at Cycle route planning using OSM we will soon be getting really personal maps for cyclists. This is what OSM is all about, really personal maps.

And finally, if you want to spread the word on OSM look no further than Andrew’s question on presentation materials – its all there, including a lovely map by Steve Chilton. So there are no excuses now – go forth and promote!

by Barry Crabtree.

The OSM mailing lists (a quiet one..)

Well, when I say quiet, I mean the discussions were focused pretty well on a few topics..

The thing that caused most discussion this week was was about using the Yahoo! imagery in JOSM. Looks like it was a just-over-the-edge case for the license, so OSMers have stepped back from the edge while it’s use is clarified, puzzled on exactly what is the edge, and meanwhile continue to use it in the applet. It’s also prompted some healthy discussion on other sources of imagery from renting time on a satellite, to finding friendly pilots. (this paragraph might qualify for the ‘understatement of the month’ award!).
An exciting development on licensing was posted by SteveC – Queensland, Australia is/are? considering creative commons licensing for geodata! Read the thread for details! Richard Fairhurst has given a number of useful pointers.
The improving look of coastlines has been under discussion started by David Groom. People are keen to make them look good & there has been discussion on how to make this happen – having the coastline as one long ‘way’ is a bit of an issue, so other approaches are being discussed.

Superways were brought up again by David Earl (its a fairly regular thing…). The issue is about having a higher level structure above the ‘way’ structure. A ‘way’ represents a single stretch of road (or area) whose properties are all the same. This poses a problem when a road crosses a bridge (for example), as the part of the road over the bridge has to be represented as a separate way to be able to tag it as ‘bridge=yes’. Although its not a problem as such, there is no agreed method method to group these elements together to say ‘look, we know all these bits of road have different attributes, but really they are all the same road!’. There is inertia to move forward on this because of the changes that will need to be made to many areas in OSM (the editors, the database, theXML, and not least agreeing what ‘ superways’ give!). Hidden in the discussion were some juicy tips on JOSM – there is a lot of functionality in JOSM that’s not readily apparent. You can find out much information on way segments with the correct vulcan death grip on the keyboard!
On Dev Jochan Topf has reminded that there’s a developers workshop being held in Essen, Germany in a couple of weeks. If you ‘d like to join in, add your name here. It also looks like there might be a UK dev workshop, but nothings been firmed up yet.
Its good to see the newbies list is active. Don’t be shy – feel free to ask questions. You’ll be sure to get a friendly response.

Now, how did the Sheffield mapping party go?

by Barry Crabtree.

Another Week on the OSM Mailing lists…

Happy first birthday to Osmarender. As Blackadder/Andy Robinson pointed out this week Osmarender is now a year old. Before Osmarender there was nothing that generated maps from OSM data, and right from the start it performed well. Over the year Osmarender has added support for layers, areas, symbols and bridge/tunnels to give the Osmarender we have now. Compare the two maps below of Weybridge from the first to the latest incarnation of Osmarender. Also, Osmarender is the rendering engine in the times@home project which turns round updates to the map very quickly. It will be interesting to see what the next year will bring. Great inspiration Etienne & great work to all the collaborators ….

Weybridge by Osmarender

Mapping and rendering tunnels came to the fore this week with Steve Chiltern starting a discussion around just how do you really map out a tunnel (the astute of you will realise that GPS coverage is not the best in a tunnel). Various solutions were proposed with video-based surveying & inertialmeasurement units sounding promising. Not sure about the wire-guided missile idea though! Mind you, with a tunnel engineer amongst the OSMers some progress should be made. The issues of layering and tunnels was also covered here.

The question of how to get tiles updated on the map seems to come up again and again. Well, for the Osmarender view go to zoom in to level 12 on the area you want, and click ‘request update’. There’s talk of getting this implemented as part of the slippy map too. On the dev list there is discussion of a JOSM patch to allow the same kind of thing.

A great discussion kicked off by Andy Allen on tagging MBR trails (Ed: he really meant MTB trials). Should they be covered by a route tag? Should they be given grades? Should there be an ascii-art description of the route surface ( nnn=cobbles, __~~~___=flooding etc.). Looks like there will be crossover from the MTB community to get some mapping done. Great!

SteveC’s thread on Finding new stuff while mapping points to the joy of getting out on the road. Being ‘forced’ to go down every lane/track/path brings out lots of things you’d probably never noticed about your local area. So what are you waiting for? Get out there & see your place in a a whole new light!

This gets my thread-of-the-week award: The set of problems thrown up by the question of maximum segment length by Scott Walde. It started off by problems with things not rendering properly and segments being missed because the start/end of the segment was out of the area being rendered (though it did cross the area). Adding a point in the area ‘fixed’ this. Being a global discussion it brought up a whole range of issues on road networks – a 50K straight road is not uncommon in some places, as are grids of roads running north/south & east/west. And what happens with different projections – well worth a look. So how long is the longest stretch of straight road in the world?

There were a few things of general note on the dev list this week. Thomas Lunde brought up the US TIGER import problem. TIGER is a database of all the streets in the USA. Lets say that again: TIGER is a database of ALL the streets in the USA. And there are no copyright restrictions on using the data. Handy eh? There was an import of the data running for quite a while, but it had to be purged because of data cleanness problems. A new version of the TIGER data has come out (as of the 6th March) and there is discussion of re-running the import, and how best to do this given the existing mapping that has happened in the USA. Separately on dev Andreas Voltz asked about Writing an OSM map application and received a bunch of useful information about OSM data & appropriate databases.

The number of mapping parties is growing like topsy. Last year there were seven. There are three this March, and ten so far either happened or planned this year to June. These parties have given step changes in the mapping around Manchester, Bath, Reading, Brighton, The New Forest, VāsterÃ¥s, Rutland, Munich, Val Thorens, London, Toronto, Bristol, South London, Amsterdam (last weekend), and planned for Sheffield, Karlshrue, Madrid, Southampton and North Wales. This doesn’t include the recent funding where 12,000 euros have been earmarked to subsidise another ten mapping parties in the Netherlands this year. Way to go!

Don’t forget: If you want to submit something to OSM’s State Of The Map Conference, you had better get your skates on. The closing date for submissions is the 30th of March.

Legal-talk has been strangely quiet this week…..

by Barry Crabtree.