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

Gerrit z0idberg at gmx.de
Wed Feb 23 23:28:24 GMT 2011


thanks for your answer. It was already quite enlightening, because I had 
no idea of the technical problems. But, I’m not yet 100% satisfied :)

> People desperately trying to change their countries look and feel to
> what they are used to from the only road atlas they ever owned might be
> tempted to "fix" the style without the necessary skills and might very
> well create ugly styles ruining the nice user experience we have now.
Well, but the system could set up some barrier, so that not everyone 
could just change the style:
– only people with a certain amount of edits would have the right to 
change the style
– votes are necessary to change the style
– or something like that

Also, creating this style of map would only be necessary once or twice. 
I think, most west european countries are already at some point where 
the important stuff is already inclued in OSM - it would then not be a 
problem to design a nice template for their country. Of course, people 
may tend to copy the style of their printed road atlasses or of Google 
Maps or whatever; still, some styles are not specific to one publisher. 
Think of the Autobahn signs in Germany, for example.

> 1.) 200 copies of the style with small tweaks to render the correct
> language of the name tags and the correct highway colors eats more RAM
> then any reasonable box has to spare on that (IIRC the amount is in the
> two digit gigabyte range.)
I don’t know about the interna of the rendering, but is this really such 
a big issue? I always thought that the rendering process is idle most of 
the time and only comes to work when somebody made a change. Well, but I 
don’t know about that :)

> 3.) Some people (say Germans) will expect all of the world rendered in
> the style they are used to (lets call it the german style), other
> Germans would expect Germany in the german style and France in the
> french rendering style. How do you resolve that? How do you deal with
> the fact that some tiles are half french and half german?
> 4.) How do you allow people to select map style? On of the earliest
> problems of the toolserver map display was that a dropdown list with 200
> language layers in Openlayers is bulky at best and breaks old browsers
> at worst.
But that can’t really be a problem, right? The choice can be narrowed 
down really nicely:

1. Check the browsers language
2. Check, which area is currently viewed.

If then a German user (= German browser) looks at a place in Germany, it 
would just display one option: German (native). If one looked at 
Austria, it would change the list and display: “German style” and 
“Austrian style”.
If a British user looks at Germany, it would show: “British style with 
English names”, “British style with German names”, “German native 
style”. Imho, this would reasonably satisfy all needs.
German user looking at a Chinese city: “German style with German names”, 
“German style with Chinese names”, “Chinese native style”, “Chinese 
native style + reading” (the last one would only be necessary in areas 
such as China, Japan or Taiwan, where it is impossible/difficult for 
people having a slight knowledge of the language to be able to read 
_every_ geographical name.)

I guess, it is not necessary to offer a German user the option to 
display a Chinese city with Arabian names. If the system changed the 
dropdown list according to the viewed region, it would significantly 
narrow the options. And, if the user then wants to have China displayed 
with Arabian names, he could fine tune it in his user profile (similar 
to wikipedia, where you can change the css file).

> So bottom line is: If you want this feature this year set up an own
> rendering stack and render the map in the style you are used to. If you
> feel like spending a lot of evenings and weekends, contact the people
> who did the multilanguage maps on the wikimedia toolserver and start
> hacking at the technical problems. Maintining the stylesheets is a
> sizeable task but small and simple in comparison and discussions about
> who edits which stylesheet are simple a year or two too early.
Well, the usual problem arises: I am no programmer, and thus my ability 
to actually help are a little bit limited (of course, I can do simpler 
things, maybe playing with rendering options would still be ok).

I am currently just looking at Openstreetmap from a users perspective 
and am just seeing many practical problems with the current (lack of) 
internationalization, which will be, in my opinion, a severe obstacle 
for worldwide adoption of OSM, outside of Europe. Of course, I can 
understand everybody creating OSM (Internationalization usually does not 
seem like a important job), but I really think that there are some huge 
problems. What I have also observed is, that, because of OSM’s current 
... sub optimal internalization, some areas in the world seem to adopt 
quite some dirty hacks, to cope with it (e.g. ”name=東京 (Tokyo)”). This 
may cause some unnecessary work in the future if OSM will then 
(hopefully) be more internationalized. Right now, most of the countries 
outside of Europe do not really seem to be well covered, so it may not 
be too late to provide OSM with a clean interface for it.  I really 
guess that if OSM will not overcome this current “bugs”, it will not 
gain the popularity worldwide as Wikipedia has gained (Just think about 
having each city name or whatever in your home country be bilingual on 
maps, maybe even with a script you cannot even read).

If I can help, of course I would really like to do so. My problems are 
just that I am a layman in almost every aspect: programming, cartography 
and whatever.


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