[Tagging] Micro- and macromapping with area=*

Martin Koppenhoefer dieterdreist at gmail.com
Tue Mar 31 08:18:13 UTC 2015

2015-03-31 0:37 GMT+02:00 Daniel Koć <daniel at koć.pl>:

> OSM was started as a middle-scale map of a big European city, hence:
> 1. Highways were meant to be just crossing lines from GPS (=just routing
> and macro-to-middle-scale rendering).

+1, and this hasn't changed. area:highway is a completely different tag,
used for polygons that are part of a street.

> 2. Churches were meant to be - well, typical churches (no need to add
> strange tag "amenity=place_of_worship" for "building=church", because it's
> obvious - isn't it?!).

-1, "building=church" is much newer as a tag, refering to a building and
not to a religious function, and is usable only for christian religious
buildings, while the amenity=place_of_worship and religion=* approach works

> 3. Monuments were meant to be just monuments (no scale recognition - like
> building/statue/plate - probably, no monument/memorial dilemma and surely
> historical - no matter if the monument is old or new).

memorials are not "monuments", they are typically plates, signs, plaques,

> But if I see a grassy area (hence "area=grass") over there or on the
> aerial image, how should I know if it's:
> - natural=grass?
> - landuse=grass? (is it used?)
> - landcover=grass?
> - man_made=grass? (maybe it's made of plastic?)

I have for long been promoting a clearer approach for this kind of mess,
and I agree that there would be need to implement some changes. My
suggestion is to use
- place for parts of settlements, e.g. a residential area with a name, an
industrial area with a name
- landuse for areas with the same usage
- landcover for the physical landcover
- natural for geographic features, landscape features, etc., typically with
a name, e.g. natural=forest for a named forest (i.e. those will also
overlap / be nested in many cases, and can include other features that are
seen as "inside/part of" like a lake, a meadow, etc.)

man_made is a different beast, typically used for technical stuff. I would
never use something like "man_made=grass", even if its made of plastic.
(rather surface=artificial_turf or landcover=artificial_turf)

> - natural=grassland (what about landcover=grassland?)

no, if you look above, "grassland" is a geographic feature, a landscape
type, so belongs to natural, while landcover would be something like
"grass", "bushes", "trees".

> Now I may start to dig into wiki pages to get definitions. I'm lucky if I
> speak English - many of them are not translated to my language and probably
> won't be (and these which are, can be outdated). And that's just one
> place...

if you speak English you could translate some pages into your language,
although this is another big issue: translations tend to not follow up with
amendments of the English version.

> Sorry - out of time! Too confusing, too much to check - and it was just
> simple grassy area...

yes, the world is complex, a grassy area could be a football pitch, a park,
a meadow, a garden, a roof, etc., so you will have to understand and
interpret and classify what you are mapping, there is no alternative.

>  wood vs forest is an topic on its own and how about landcover=* ?
> Again - I see some area populated with trees. It may be landcover or
> landuse, but surely it is the area.

it will always be "landcover" AND "landuse".

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