[OSM-dev] OpenStreetMap Carto release v4.12.0

Christoph Hormann osm at imagico.de
Sun Jun 24 10:45:50 UTC 2018

On Sunday 24 June 2018, Mateusz Konieczny wrote:
> > It is all open source of course so anyone can pick up development
> > but you need to ask yourself if this would be worthwhile of course.
> >  Both the technological and cartographic environment have changed a
> > lot since these programs were originally designed.
> What would you recommend for someone starting a new project?

That's a really tough call.

The only real recommendation i can give is a quite abstract one: Go 
small, concentrate on doing one thing and one thing only and avoid the 
impetus to go broader and then get bogged down by conflicting goals and 
the complexity of the whole thing.

It is interesting you mentioned 3d rendering since i think (and also 
have frequently written in the past) map rendering can learn a lot from 
the historic development of general 3d rendering (which has a much 
longer and more faceted history than digital map production)

For a map design project with similar scope and goals as OSM-Carto the 
situation today is quite impossible indeed.  But you need to keep in 
mind the OSM standard style (combining the old XML style and OSM-Carto 
here) and Mapnik essentially grew up together so to speak.  You can't 
expect today to be able to find a framework that can directly take over 
this role Mapnik essentially grew into over many years.  So the goal 
would be to look for a toolchain that has the potential to grow into 
such a role over time which is both a technical requirement and one 
regarding the developer community.

But it is also possible that what the OSM standard style represents, the 
one size fits all map for OpenStreetMap, will end in the near future - 
as a dinosaur incapable to adjust to a changing world.  And that my 
recommendation to go small and concentrate on doing one thing and one 
thing only not only is to be applied to software development but also 
map design projects.

But i don't see this happening at the moment yet because i don't see the 
open, non-commercial limited scope map design projects flourishing.  
How likely this is to happen in the future depends largely on the 
burden of suffering felt by the OSM community because of OSM-Carto not 
being able to deliver certain things.  And to get back to the original 
subject of this thread - the issue regarding rendering of paved/unpaved 
was open for nearly five years, the desire to have this rendered had 
existed probably already significantly longer (surface tag reached one 
million uses in 2009).  And despite this pressure and the incapability 
of OSM-Carto to deliver on this it has none the less not led to the 
development of a specialized roads map style to fill this gap.  So the 
inertia in the social environment surrounding the OSM standard style is 
immense.  It is quite possible that from this point of view OSM-Carto 
could continue more or less indefinitely and the only contraint would 
be to mitigate the scaling problems (as it is already done with 
aggressive way_area filtering for example).

> Recently Mapzen ecosystem looked interesting for me (though
> making maps good from cartographic design viewpoint was not one of
> its strength), but I picked poor moment to start with Mapzen :)

Well - as i wrote some time ago 
(http://blog.imagico.de/on-permanence-in-it-and-cartography/) Mapzen 
did not have any truly revolutionary and innovative ideas in their 
portfolio.  They had the advantage of not being as dominated by 
immediate business needs as some of the other commercial players which 
allowed them to think things through a bit better in some cases and 
make tools a bit more generic which also makes them look more 
attractive to third parties obviously.  Still there is a lot of 'just 
another version of the same thing essentially' in what they did.

Christoph Hormann

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