[OSM-dev] Merkaator port to Android

Jaak Laineste jaak.laineste at gmail.com
Sun Dec 4 11:02:58 GMT 2011

My own experience with Vespucci on phone is that with first touch I
moved accidentally some node and there is no undo feature, so it was
unusable for me and I did not go much futher. Another major drawback
is no (proper) preset system, best if JOSM preset XMLs could be
reused. But overall it might be better approach to fix these things
than porting full JOSM or Merkaator to Android and find out that in
reality they are not usable on the go. There are actually two
different usage modes of tablets: as big-screen portable device, used
right in the field; or as a slim laptop replacement, used in the
office. For the second case porting of full editor (with some
touch-specific tweaks, not all have full keyboard for tablet) would
make perfect sense. And for the field you need offline, basic map
drafting, GPS track saving, geotagged image storage: more like digital
version walking papers, not map data editor. Totally different things.
Vespucci is somewhere in the middle and as it often happens with
"middle way" approach, does not serve none of the cases really well.

So I would have two questions:
a) Would there be enough users for full editor (Merkaator in
particular, as it should be technically easier to port) on "Android
netbooks"? This would be for office, not so much for field use.
b) Would there be enough interest for new Walking Papers for Android
or iPad (and which of them) app? This would have following key
 - preload offline background map. Simplified BW style like in Walking
Papers, also WMS extracts.
 - drawing draft lines and notes on top of that, saves it as GPX which
needs postprocessing on JOSM
 - easy graphical tag editing with presets, saves OSM changes, can be
postprocessed with JSOM, but in simpler cases good enough for direct
 - save GPS track
 - maybe take and save photos, with geotags
 - no graphical way editing, only point moving for standalone nodes
(like in MapZen POI collector)
 - scalable also for phones, but best with tablets


2011/12/2 Toby Murray <toby.murray at gmail.com>:
> I would suggest looking at helping to improve Vesupcci. It already
> does several things mentioned here and I think a few other things are
> at least theoretically on the roadmap. It is certainly usable on my
> Samsung Galaxy S. Editing geometry is kind of tricky and I ususally
> end up going back in JOSM and fixing things after I upload from
> Vespucci. But I don't see many options to change that on a small touch
> screen. Tablets might work better. Having an "orthogonalize" button
> might be neat though. One outstanding feature request is to save to a
> file that you can open in JOSM and edit before uploading.
> It has tagging presets built in although they are not graphical... it
> just offers autocomplete suggestions for tag keys and values that it
> knows about. So you have to know which tag you want, it just helps you
> fill it in quicker. But it does have a button that will send you to
> the wiki for the selected key.
> It also guesses the road name when you add an addr:street tag. In my
> experience it does fairly well.
> It displays Bing imagery by default but has several other options.
> It even does some minimal validation - highlighting streets with no name.
> Toby
> 2011/12/2 Matthias Meißer <digi_c at arcor.de>:
>> Well I've got Merkaator running on my OpenPandora handhelt (Angstrome Linux)
>> and noticed that this kind of editors (let's call them GIS centred) isn't
>> what will work on mobile devices in the field.
>> I used osm2go as well and it's realy clother to my needs but is unfortunatly
>> abandoned and currently not that good for tapping devices. On the other
>> sides regular Smartphones are just to small (virtual keypad) so you might
>> need a real hardware keyboard as the Pandora offers, to add streetnames etc.
>> What in my opinion will work esp. on Tablets is:
>> -easy to use download data (select area on map, not entering them
>> numericaly)
>> -ultimate reduced UI (focused on adding more attributes and just POIs, not
>> for complex geometry, as this is best done with a mouse)
>> -mission schemas that customize the layout/workflow:
>> Let's say you want to add housenumbers, so you tap on the house. The editor
>> suggests the next road and already predicts the housenumber by what you
>> entered to house before).
>> Another usecase might be to add 3D featuers, where a wizzard presents you
>> different shapes of roofs, color table, ...
>> -ability to take georeferenced audio-notes, photos and embedd them
>> immediately
>> Yes a HTML5 might do the job and as Josh noticed, this will simplify the
>> deployment for mobile platforms. On the other hand I would really suggest
>> offline editing.
>> But this are just ideas...would be great if anybody would give it a try to
>> see if this might work :)
>> bye
>> Matthias
>> Am 02.12.2011 14:26, schrieb Josh Doe:
>>> On Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 8:13 AM, Ian Dees<ian.dees at gmail.com>  wrote:
>>>> On Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 6:56 AM, Jaak Laineste<jaak.laineste at gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Hi,
>>>>>  as you may now, during GSoC QGIS was ported to Android tablets
>>>>> (http://hub.qgis.org/projects/quantum-gis/wiki/QGIS_Mobile_GSoC_2011).
>>>>> Merkaator has technically same base elements: Qt, GEOS, PROJ.4 etc, so
>>>>> based on this experience porting of Merkaator could be also possible
>>>>> with much smaller fuss. It should be even smaller work than getting
>>>>> JOSM working under Android.
>>>>>  Question: do you know anyone who really would need and use it?
>>>> Jaak,
>>>> Porting JOSM to Android would be an interesting academic task, but
>>>> several
>>>> problems lead me to believe it would not be useful for general use:
>>>> - java.awt is nowhere to be found on Android. JOSM's rendering engine
>>>> would
>>>> have to be completely re-written.
>>>> - javax.swing is nowhere to be found on Android. JOSM's UI system would
>>>> have
>>>> to be completely re-written.
>>>> - JOSM's UI is based on menus and keyboard shortcuts. These don't have
>>>> good
>>>> analogs in Android and would have to be re-thought.
>>>> I'd much rather see the time spent solving these problems put towards a
>>>> general purpose editor that is specifically designed for a tablet. Maybe
>>>> something general enough that an iOS and Android developer could use the
>>>> same design with platform-specific tweaks.
>>> All valid points, however it may be useful to reuse much of the
>>> non-GUI code for handling file loading, validation, search, etc. Or
>>> perhaps it may be more worthwhile to write a nice HTML5 app that can
>>> work on iOS, Android, and the web.
>>> I think the hardest thing is coming up with a design that works well
>>> on tablets. I think first and foremost it should offer a simple and
>>> robust way to edit POIs. A good preset system is a must (share with
>>> Potlatch2 or JOSM, don't create a new one!). Allow ways to be created
>>> both by tapping nodes and drawing (with simplification algorithm). And
>>> definitely have online and offline modes.
>>> I'd encourage you to create a wiki article to try and define what
>>> should go in to a tablet app.
>>> -Josh
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Jaak Laineste

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