[OSM-dev] Different styles for each country/region

Gerrit z0idberg at gmx.de
Fri Feb 11 16:25:31 GMT 2011


I asked this question several months before, but I did not really get an 
good answer (I think :D).

My problem is the following:

Currently, the main OSM website (osm.org) uses one display style for 
every country. This results in (in my opinion) in some big flaws. Here 
are some mistakes, which I commonly think about:

1. Street signs are usually different in individual countries. For 
example, highways in Germany are rendered like this 
but currently, OSM just displays some other style (I don't know where it 
is from, maybe from UK?).
2. The font may need to be different in some regions. Although China, 
Japan and Taiwan all use Chinese characters for their geographical 
names, the font needs to be different. If the same font is used 
everywhere (as is currently used a Chinese font), Japanese and Taiwanese 
may not really like the result. It is still readable, but it is not perfect.
3. Wouldn't it be nice, if e.g. the metro stations of one city were 
displayed with the logo of the operator? Of course, in most cases this 
is not possible because of copyright issues, but, provided the case that 
operator would be fine to let the logo be used in OSM, I think it would 
be best to use that logo.
4. Especially in areas with non-latin script, currently often the "name" 
tag uses the original script plus an "English" transcription, e.g. ?? 
(Tokyo). In my opinion, this is not really a nice solution, because some 
other regions (English is not used everywhere) may want to have their 
own transliteration displayed there: e.g. ?? (?????). The Japanese may 
not care if the name tag uses "?? (Tokyo)", because they just tend to 
look at the Japanese, but some other foreigners may think this is 
extremely insufficient.

The last time I asked this, the solution would be different website, 
which renders its own style. Of course, this may be a solution, but it 
has one big problem: How do I know all these websites? And for whom is 
www.openstreetmap.org? Just for English users? Wouldn't it be nice, if 
the OSM website detected the current's person language (which it already 
does, because it displays the text on the left side in some other 
language), and display an appropriate map?

Because the rendering team cannot be burdened to make every small 
change, why not let the different teams of the countries let them do it?

I think the following would be nice:

The German team edits the German style, and lets the German highways be 
displayed in the correct style - only in Germany.
The Japanese team can choose a Japanese font for Japanese names, ignore 
all the latin transcriptions and just display Japanese. Also, they will 
make a version which can be selected, which will display the reading of 
all the geographical names (cities, train stations etc.) on top of it, 
in order to let Japanese learning foreigners be able to read the 
geographical names etc. This option will only appear if the zoom is on 
Japan, because it has no effect on Germany or whatever.
Furthermore, the German team will say that, on top of the style the 
Japanese team created, it will change all rendering of the Japanese 
names and let the German name be displayed additionally (this will then 
be in effect only for German computers viewing a Japanese map): Thus, it 
is not "?? (Tokyo)", but "?? (Tokio)". The user could then still select 
the style which is best for him, e.g. "Japanese native style", "Japanese 
style with reading", "Japanese + German translated" or "Only German 
translation/transcription". Maybe a cookie can store his favourite 
settings, so that Japan will always be displayed in "Japanese style with 
reading" (because he is learning Japanese, but has not yet mastered it 
fully), but Israel in "Only German translation/transcription" (because 
he speaks absolutely no Hebrew and cannot read it at all, so the Hebrew 
script would just be a nuisance to him).

I think, creating something like this would be the best to make OSM 
really be usable in different regions: Different country teams can make 
variations of the default rendering style, which will only be displayed 
in their region. Also, they can then make variations of other 
country-specific styles to render in another language.

I really think, it is not good to create that much subprojects with 
other websites, if it is essentially the same as openstreetmap.org does. 
If my mother wants to see a map, she will open openstreetmap.org, and 
then expect it to show German highway signs and Praha not as "Praha" or 
"Prague", but as "Prag", just as she would find it on an ordinary German 
map. Of course, stuff like www.öpnvkarte.de warrants an own website, but 
not just an ordinary map.

What do you think about it?


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