[Tagging] State parks and state forests: specific tagging question, general mapping philosophy

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Wed Jul 27 12:36:30 UTC 2016

 On 07/27/2016 05:52 AM, Andy Townsend wrote:

On 27/07/2016 03:59, Kevin Kenny wrote:

How many more years must I wait, then, before they will become visible on
any of the tile layers on openstreetmap.org? If it hadn't been a couple or
three years already, I'd be more patient. A New Yorker would find it
astonishing not to see the Adirondack Park, which occupies about a sixth of
the land area of the state, but if it were not mistagged 'national park'
there would be nothing to trigger its rendering. The smaller state parks,
state forests, and similar reserves likewise would likewise have no
attributes visible to the renderer.

What exactly are you waiting for?  the magic map fairies to read the
tagging list and think "hmm - request for a new rendering of US Parks, must
set some time aside for that" :-)

It'd be nice to be able to customise the tile layers easily on osm.org, but
the only reason that it isn't is that no one has sat down and written the
code yet.  However, it is possible to use other tile layers with a bit of
browser trickery:
.  If you're not in a position to submit changes to osm.org yourself (and
I'm certainly not) you could perhaps try bribing potential developers with
donations, charitable or otherwise :).

Your "do it yourself or pay someone to do it" comment is a bit misplaced
and is coming across as a facile dismissal. Pointing me at "Mapnik for
beginners" is not helping.

I've already done it myself, starting from Lars Ahlzen's TopOSM, and I'm
happy with the result for my own use. (I haven't got the bandwidth to share
it far and wide.) https://kbk.is-a-geek.net/catskills/karl.html is a little
bit of GeoJSON atop my own basemap. I haven't changed it over to
protected_area rendering just yet because I'm still working on the
underlying data for my home state of New York, which is unusual in that has
very little in the way of national parks or national forests but a wealth
of state land, including the largest park of any sort in the Lower 48. The
Adirondack and Catskill Parks now have protected_area tagging on all their
parcels, but there's at least another few weeks of work getting the rest of
the state up to the same level. I've got about 1500 protected areas in
place, and another few hundred to do before I'll take another run at the

The part that I can't do anything about is getting hstore activated on the
main rendering database. That's a matter of turning a switch - osmosis,
osm2pgsql, mapnik, everything is ready for it - but this problem isn't
important enough for the amount of planning, testing and downtime that
would be needed to turn it. That's not really fixable with time or money,
short of a new parallel data center! Any change that fundamental is a risk
to the project, and I just have to wait for something more important to
come along that will justify the move. I can't really foresee that
happening. The risk in making the change simply is not tolerable. I'd
venture to say that the change will never happen because the current
rendering is nearly good enough for most users, and no issue that is
important enough to justify the change will ever arise. Every project
reaches that level of maturity at some point, where the risk of breaking
something for everyone outweighs the potential reward of virtually any
change. A lot of business people don't take a technology seriously until it
reaches that level of stability.

That leaves US users in a bit of a quandary, with only a few viable
choices: beef up openstreetmap.us to be the public face of the project on
this side of the ocean (a disaster from a marketing perspective, to have
two competing faces), resign ourselves to the fact that our national
forests, state parks, and similar administrative regions will never appear
on the main map, or tag for the renderer. That's where we've been for a
couple of years now.

The other part that I can't do anything about is coming up with a suitably
artistic rendering style. The underlying problem there is that I'm
colour-blind. I come up with interfaces that are ugly to others, and many
of them come up with interfaces that are unusable to me without
technological assistance. I have appropriate assistive applications to be
able to discriminate the colours I can't see (I use them on a daily basis
to read statisticians' "heat maps"), but they won't tell me what will look

If a pull request would solve the problem, I'd have done it a couple of
years ago. I've prepared a lot of data. I've configured osm2pgsql, osmosis
and mapnik to use it, and tested the resulting rendering. I've got "get
with Lars on reactiviating TopOSM" in the queue right after "get the State
Parks fixed" and "get the rendering on kbk.is-a-geek.net switched over to

I'm sorry if I'm prickly. I'm frustrated.
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