[OSM-dev] proposal to kill areas

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Sat Jul 22 16:54:39 BST 2006

Etienne wrote:

> So if you request a tiny bbox of a small part of a village, in a 
> forest, in the Borough of Medina on the Isle of Wight would you 
> expect to get the area

Please, folks, is anybody in the near future going to input a lot 
of these features into OpenStreetMap?  I'm still drawing "line 
segments" and very seldom "ways".  Compared to any traditional GIS 
system, OpenStreetMap's data model is ridiculously primitive and 
really "good for nothing", except for gathering the rudimentary 
free geographic data that we have been waiting many decades for.

When you produce charcoal from timber (combustion without oxygen), 
you prepare a clearing in the forest, pile wood together, and 
cover with dirt and grass before you light the fire inside. This 
is your factory.  After it has burnt some days, you tear it down 
and dig out the coal.  If you're nice, you make the ground flat 
and leave nothing but the clearing in the forest.  You carry your 
product with you, and the "factory" is gone.

This is how I see OpenStreetMap, a very simple use-once factory 
for producing some free geographic data.  You guys sound like 
architects who are planning a mining town with city library and 
all.  Is that really what we have in mind?  And if so, should we 
really build on the current codebase?  Wouldn't it make more sense 
to build web-editing functionality into GRASS / MapServer?

Let's keep the current codebase as long as it helps us, and 
introduce support for the kind of data we can generate.  But 
trying to do "the right thing" is only a waste of time.

Areas?  I have never used them.  In a few rare cases (parking 
lots, town squares) they could be useful, but I would do fine with 
a very restricted kind of area: One that contains nothing.  A 
bridge might run over a parking lot, just like line segments run 
above each other at a motorway crossing, but connections to these 
areas could be at the periphery just like connections to a line 
segment must be at its ends.  If you restrict areas to a maximum 
of 12 line segments, I will not complain.

Sure, a full GIS system would use areas for administrative borders 
and vegetation types, but I have no plans in the foreseeable 
future to add that to OpenStreetMap.  Have you?

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

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