[OSM-dev] GSoC Ideas

Paul Wicks pwicks86 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 22:09:32 GMT 2009

Hello all,

My name is Paul Wicks and I am a Computer Science major at the University of
Puget Sound and I am interested in taking part in the Google of Summer of
Code for the OSM project.

The idea in the list that seemed to appeal to me most was the creation of a
Static Map API. I'd be very interested in implementing something of this
nature and have a bit of a basic plan sketched out (note that some of this
is mentioned in the ideas list and also discussed a bit previously here).

1. Receive Latitude and Longitude coordinates, along with zoom level
information, and return a static image (probably start with something really
simple like ppm and go from there). Once this was achieved, everything else
can be built up. The rendering path for images would have to be investigated
(although from what looking I have done it looks like maybe mapnik would be
the way to go, although it was suggested earlier that perhaps it would be
better to grab the image tiles from the OSM servers and stitch them
together), as I am not too familiar with the internals of OSM, having only
used it for street maps up until now.

2. Once the absolute basics were in place, work on making it more useful.
Maintaining a local cache of static maps would be important, so that maps
would only need to be rendered once (although maybe maps should expire,
since the canonical OSM map could itself change). Work would need to be done
to determine the best way/place to store this data, especially considering
that this project would most likely be aimed at deployment on Google App
Engine. The other important thing, as I see it, would be to graft a key
authentication mechanism on top the api, to prevent abuse. This seems like
something that someone might have already written for django, so that would
be good to look into. If not, it shouldn't be too difficult to create
something of the sort.

3. Once the first 2 items were done, it would be more or less open season on
whatever features were thought to be most useful. Markers (various types,
colors, capacities), Paths/lines/boxes/shapes (again, many of the same
options), additional caching backends (might as well increase the number of
places that can run it as much as possible and not get locked into app
engine), more image formats (jpg, gif, png, svg, pdf), different map themes
(allow the api call to specify the colors of various map features, would
this be possible/desired? maybe just have a dark theme and a light theme,
that would probably encompass most needs for this feature)

Another important thing would be to build a basic test suite around the api,
both for benchmarking purposes and to help ensure it's integrity as
development progressed.

In the ideas list, django was mentioned as a possible platform for this and
I would agree, for much the same reasons: it is written in a popular
language and platform, meaning more developers in the future; deployment
should be fairly easy, especially on something like app engine.

Another wild thought I had was to create some sort of application that
uses/showcases OSM for the iPhone/Android/Pre. This seems to be a hot new
place for development these days and it would be cool to have an app that
showcases OSM on one of these new mobile platforms. Perhaps a basic maps
applicaion that uses OSM (although it looks like a jailbreak iphone can use
OSM in the official maps app http://brainoff.com/weblog/2007/10/19/1271 ) or
maybe something more specific, something that shows the strength of the OSM
project. I'll have to think about this one some more.

If this is not the place for this discussion or I've made any large errors,
please let me know.

Thanks for your time.

-Paul Wicks
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