Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mapnik Code Sprint: Committers and Cartographers


The first Mapnik Code Sprint, dubbed Committers and Cartographers, got
underway a few hours ago, during the English morning. After a few
hours of introductions, background discussion, planning and lunch, the
audio feed has been reduced to the tapping of keyboards. As the
voices became less frequent, the updates on the #mapnik IRC channel
became more frequent with changesets and trac comments in abundance.

So the code sprint has started in earnest now.

A code sprint is an in-person meeting to collectively tackle
programming problems that are more difficult to solve individually.
Committers and Cartographers is focusing on removing bugs from the
current Mapnik code base, adding advanced cartography features and
planning for the next releases of Mapnik.

Attendees have traveled to London to participate from as far away as
Ukraine, USA and even Charlbury. Online participants are expected,
time zones permitting, from many other countries as the code sprint
continues this weekend.

Mapnik is a map rendering library that is used to create map images
from geographic data. Many web sites use Mapnik to render
OpenStreetMap data including the main OpenStreetMap web site which has
a layer called Mapnik.

Committers and Cartographers is only possible because of the generous
donation of time and expertise of each of the participants. Thank
you! We can’t wait to see all of the improvements in Mapnik.

Thank you, CloudMade, for hosting the Mapnik Code Sprint in your
London office.

Thank you Development Seed, for the awesome Committers and
Cartographers logo. The logo is © 2010 Development Seed,
OpenStreetMap and Contributors and is licensed CC-By-SA.

MapQuest adds four more Open countries and an OSMer.


MapQuest announced a beta open map using OSM data and tools from the
OSM stack during State of the Map in July 2010. The initial
announcement was only for England, but you could still see that they
had the full OSM planet available at the

Now they have announced the domains for Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

In July MapQuest also announced that they were earmarking $1 Million
for investments that will improve OSM data in USA. They have now
hired somebody to manage that investment fund, and it is OSM
contributor Hurricane Coast.

See the details in the press release and coverage on TechCrunch Europe.

Measuring the OpenStreetMap Economy

When I see announcements flying around like MapQuests $1M commitment to OSM, or CloudMades $12M VC round it begs the question of how big is the OSM economy?

Purely as an academic exercise it’s interesting to think of OSM as an ecosystem around which people find work and provide goods and services. But also perhaps it would be a nice exponential graph to show as a slide along with user growth.

We have some limit cases. In 2004 when founded, the economy was approximately zero. Or was it? Do we measure volunteer hours? How about the power and bandwidth the servers are burning? Or is that negligible compared to the other large numbers thrown around?

Today I would estimate we have about 5 people freelancing on OSM work worldwide. Perhaps 50 that do OSM work as part of their job, say writing a plugin or using the data. Full-time employees working explicitly on OSM? Perhaps 50 again. These are all guesses with some rough education behind them. These numbers would probably follow the kind of growth curves that various projects around linux did, rather than wikipedia I’m guessing. Because wikipedia was much more about the destruction of value around britannica and others, and the secondary service and otherwise market around wikipedia is pretty small (I think?). Unless you count MediaWiki itself.

Once you have the criteria of what goes in to the measuring pot of the “OSM economy” you further have large error bars on the data for each thing. For example, are those freelancers going to tell you what kind of money they’re making?

Still, an interesting thought exercise.

Project of the Week: Meet a Mapper


Contributing to OpenStreetMap is a collaborative activity. We each
submit data knowing that our personal data becomes our collective
data. At times we hope that our contributions will be seen as
acceptable and good enough. At other times we hope that other mappers
will help us refine and improve our contributions. As much as
OpenStreetMap is a group project, often we each make our contributions
in isolation.

This isn’t always the case. We have Mapping Parties and Stammtisch and
meetups and various social tools to contact and connect with other

The Project of the Week is to meet another mapper in some way.

Some of us prefer to meet virtually. Others like to meet face to face.
Still others like to organize and facilitate. Participate in a way
that you feel comfortable. When meeting people in person for the first
time, take reasonable precautions.

You’ll find suggestions for meeting other mappers on the Project of
the Week wiki page:

This is your Project of the Week. Make suggestions. Inspire other
mappers. What is it about contributing to OpenStreetMap that
interests you? Postboxes? Bowing alleys? Share your OpenStreetMap
obession by contributing a Project of the Week.

Hey!? What’s going on? Is it the weekend already?

No, it isn’t the weekend already. Project of the Week has moved to
mid-week based on user feedback. Stay tuned also for the first
Project of the Month. It will be announced next Wednesday.

Mapping party photo by Russ Nelson

Project of the Week: What are you watching?

What are you watching? Cinemas and theatres can provide diversion and
entertainment. Some places have thriving tourism economies based on
theatre. Other places have numerous jobs for people creating films to
ship around the world.

Add your local cinemas and theatres to OpenStreetMap as part of this
Project of the Week and let the world know more about your
neighbourhood. Find tagging suggestions and more details on the
project page.

Project of the Week is moving to Wednesday! On 22 September 2010 PotW
will move to announcements on Wednesdays. On 29 September 2010 the
first Project of the Month will be announced and the working title for
that project is Stay a while.

This is your Project of the Week. Make suggestions for projects of
the week or month. Inspire other mappers. What is it about
contributing to OpenStreetMap that interests you? Postboxes? Bowling
alleys? Contribute a Project of the Week and share your interests
with other mappers.

Other Projects of the Week / Humanitarian Mapping Humanitarian
emergencies continue. If you can provide some additional remote
mapping time please consider helping.

Watching the Stage photo by woodleywonderworks
is licensed cc-by

Another new English OSM book!


The English language OpenStreetMap books are starting to flow, fast
and furious now. A second new OSM book is now announced and is
available for pre-order.

OpenStreetMap contributor Jonathan Bennett has sent his final version
to the publisher and expects books to ship this month or early next.
An ebook is also available using the link above.