[OSM-dev] Restrict key names on order to retain reusability of OSM

J.D. Schmidt jdsmobile at gmail.com
Tue Feb 12 01:02:45 GMT 2008

Stefan Keller skrev:
> Hi all,
> I just have finished a converter of OSM xml format to GML and I
> *BOLDLY*suggest to constrain the allowed characters of tags (=
> key-names) to the
> following XML related set:
> 'aAbBcCdDeEfFgGhHiIjJkKlLmMnNoOpPqQrRsStTuUvVwWxXyYzZ_' in order to retain
> reusability.
> After having looked at more than 100 MB of data we found in key names
> characters like space, slashes, colons and even more weird ones. I don't
> think this will take too much of users freedom of choice...
> What do you think to agree on such a character list and subsequenctly to
> build this into editors like JOSM on order to get clean key names from the
> beginning?
> -- Stefan


If people can't use national characters such as ÆØÅæøå, accented 
characters such as ÔÂÊôâê and ÕÃŨĨõãũĩ, or left-to-right characters as 
used in Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese for in the naming of tags, we are 
loosing one hell of an incitament for people all over the world to use, 
participate in and develop OSM further.

If you had suggested that "Tag names to be used on the Map Features list 
of recommended tags on the Wiki should only contain the characters used 
in the English language" then I had been with you, but to 
indiscriminately remove the possibillity of having tags in national 
languages using characters only found in those languages is IMHO a 
completely No-Go.

Remember, one of the great advantages of the OSM tagging model, is that 
anybody can define a tag, even if that tag only is going to be usefull 
for that particular person. This maintains the versatility for people 
who might not be very well versed in english, to still be able to 
"customize and name" the data they put in to OSM, so it makes sense for 
their particular use.

I still recall the old days in the 1970's and 1980's when a lot of US 
made software balked on hi-ascii characters, which meant that a lot of 
us europeans had to for instance spell streetnames that contained 
national characters such as the above, as they sounded in english, 
instead of the way they actually were spelled. And I do NOT wish for 
that to return in the twentyfirst century in OSM, not even for tag names.

If an OSM tool is unable to utilize UTF8 characters, then the tool 
should be rewritten. It is a big step backwards, if we instead choose to 
limit the characters available for use.

Just my 0.02€


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