[Strategic] Fw: Adding additional tile layers to the osm.org website (e.g. the MapQuest ones)
mikel_maron at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 1 20:20:52 GMT 2010
Here's the email that touched off the issue of tile layers....
== Mikel Maron ==
+254(0)724899738 @mikel s:mikelmaron
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Kai Krueger <kakrueger at gmail.com>
To: board at osmfoundation.org
Sent: Wed, October 27, 2010 11:16:19 PM
Subject: Adding additional tile layers to the osm.org website (e.g. the MapQuest
Dear OSMF board,
I would like to write to you to ask if there is a policy under which conditions
additional tile layers can be added to the layer switcher of the main page on
openstreetmap.org? Currently there are 4 layers available, the "mapnik",
"osmrender", "opencyclemap", and "noname" maps.
As OpenStreetMap is a lot about the diversity of things one can do with the
data, it would be nice if more of this diversity could be show cased on the main
page. Of cause, OSM is a lot more than map tiles and as such there have been
various attempts to redesign the front page to enhance this (the most recent one
currently ongoing on talk-de starting somewhere in the long thread
http://osmtools.de/portal/), however short of a full redesign of the frontpage,
adding a few more tile layers would be a great start to show case the diversity
and the potential within OSM.
There are already many great (specialist) map-styles that would have been nice
to include, like e.g. http://www.öpnvkarte.de/ ,http://openseamap.org/ or
http://hikebikemap.de/ . So far the main concern with these has been of
technical nature, i.e. can the servers that host these styles handle the load?
Are they reliable enough? Are they world wide?
However with big organisations / companies like MapQuest, Wikimedia or CloudMade
with their infrastructure now offering OSM tiles, the technical aspects are less
of a concern for some and it is more of a policy question of who and under what
conditions their tiles can be added into the layer switcher.
More directly, my question is would it be acceptable to include the MapQuest
tiles as a fifth layer into the layer chooser on osm.org?
I have briefly spoken to TomH on irc and my understanding is that he sees no
technical reason not to include them, however understandably he does not want to
make the decision to include them, as it is one of policy and not of technical
administration. Hence my question to you as the OSMF board if they can be
I think the MapQuest tiles would be, for the reasons listed below, a good
addition to the main site. I have emailed Hurricane Coast, to ask if MapQuest
would be OK with the tiles being included and the response has so far been
positive. Including a (commercial) third party hosted tile set is not
unprecedented either, as both the OpenCycleMap (sponsored by CloudMade) and the
NoName layer (hosted by CloudMade), each with closed source style-sheets, has
been on the main site for a while.
Imho, some of the advantages of including the MapQuest tiles that I can think of
a) More diversity: The more styles new visitors get exposed to on the main site,
the better they will hopefully understand that OSM is not about a single map,
but about the data and the variation that can be done with it. (it also
highlights why "tagging for the renderer doesn't work)
b) "localisation": The OSM-mapnik style is very nice, but has a distinct british
touch to it. The MapQuest tiles instead use different styles in different
countries giving a more localised feel to them. They show case the possibilities
of localisation like the various US highway shields and that it is possible both
with the mapnik tool set and the OSM data.
c) Speed of serving: Although the single OSMF tile server copes quite well with
the load and is often blindingly fast if you are connected with a 1Gbit/s
connection to the London academic network, for distant networks such as in
America, Australia or Africa the latency might add up. MapQuest with its global
Akamai CDN might provide a more pleasant and speedier experience.
On the other hand, there are also valid concerns, some of which were raised
during the irc discussion.
Can anyone come and ask for their styles to be included? Could e.g. CloudMade
come along and ask for all their styles to be included? Apart from that they
might not want that, the current layer chooser would clearly be inappropriate
for so many styles. Does it show (commercial) favouritism to include some and
not others? Should the OSM main page contain any form of commercial aspects at
all? Do styles have to be opensourced? Does it have to come "from the
community"? Does the hosting have to be worldwide? Up-to-date?
So far, I think there are so few examples that meet the technical criteria that
having too many styles isn't an issue yet, but having a clear set of policies
under what condition new tile sets may be added would hopefully prevent bias in
the future and counter any potential conspiracy theories that may emerge by
adding tiles of companies like MapQuest.
Thank you and looking forward to your responses,
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