[Tagging] Basic cartography features missing, why?

Anders Torger anders at torger.se
Sat Nov 7 10:22:06 UTC 2020

Hello Graeme, 

the nature of these gravel yards vary a bit, but they can look like


and they were made maybe 50 years ago. This one probably comes from the
time the road was straightened in the 1970s or so. But there are also
these things near say hydro power plants or other things construction,
50 - 70 years old. The thing with rural areas is that space is cheap, so
there are many of these leftover spaces from past times. And of course
there are also those that can be more easily identified as abandoned
gravel pits were raw material for the roads were taken, there the quarry
tag is more fitting. 

Anyway, these are rather good to have on a map as they today serve can
serve as places to park your car or caravan when getting out into

About upping villages, I know exactly about that problem. Here it's
typical that a village consists of a few farms (nowadays most of them
inactive or at hobbyist level) and has 5 - 10 inhabitants. The villages
are quite closely spaced and kids go to school and shopping is made in a
nearby town, so it's quite nice to live here still if you like peace and
quiet :-). Anyway these type of landscapes makes the fixed sizing and
zoom visibility of name labels not work well. The names of these tiny
villages are important for navigation and you need them on an overview

If you look at our official maps how they do it, they actually don't up
the villages (ie show them more prominently here in rural areas than in
the densely populated south), but instead they render the names larger
and keep them for longer when you zoom out, and when it becomes too
cluttered they have information about which names to prioritize over
others. And if you to that can name the landscape (which is limited
support for in OSM), you get a good overview map for navigation. 

Here's a comparison between an official Swedish map and OSM in the same
location to show the difference in (extreme) cases: 


In OSM zoomed out maps in these areas unfortunately just looks like
poorly designed cartography. Many of these villages are farmlands, so
they cover a pretty big area and you see them from far. There's lots and
lots of space to render name tags, but still there's no name. I
understand that this is the effect when you 1) need to have a style that
requires little processing power to render and 2) in combination need to
have the same style for 1 million people per square km and 5 people per
square km (like it is here). 

I don't think the right way to solve this is to have varying style
depending on local density. What's needed is better and more
computationally costly render algorithms that can deal with larger name
tags and higher name tag density and then just have names visible from
earlier zoom levels. 

However, the style of rendering has been fairly static for X number of
years, and there's no sign that this ever will be solved. Many of us
mappers just want one thing -- a good result *now*, not hope for it to
*maybe* come in 5 years. So I understand that some do tag for the
renderer, and simply up the villages. 

I see soooo many examples of "tagging for the renderer". It's said over
and over again that you shouldn't do it, but people still do. It seems
like OSM (=we) don't understand that we can't tell people to not tag for
the renderer, if the renderer never improves. I think the map we see at
openstreetmap.org needs to show progress and improve to gain credibility
among casual mappers. Casual mappers don't know about all the technical
challenges and algorithm complexity of making a good render. They do
know how a good useful map with well-designed cartography looks though,
and in many parts of the world those are easily accessible and already
used by some online services. There is tough competition today, and if
OSM can't compete with cartography I think it will be increasingly hard
to recruit mappers, and those that do join will be tempted to tag for
the renderer to just try to come somewhat close to what the official
maps can show. 

On 2020-11-06 23:22, Graeme Fitzpatrick wrote:

> On Sat, 7 Nov 2020 at 04:34, Anders Torger <anders at torger.se> wrote: 
>> ** Due to limitations in area-based name tagging the map looks empty 
>> just when zoomed out a little, as names disappear almost directly, so 
>> despite detailed mapping and tagging the overview map is not as useful 
>> as it could be. While the renderer can and does make proper decisions of 
>> prominence for bays and strait made as areas, point-based natural names 
>> often yield strange and misleading maps as vastly different sized areas 
>> have just a point for the name and no other differentiator, there's no 
>> way the renderer can make an appropriate render decision as the data is 
>> not there.
> Welcome, Anders. 
> That is a problem that we encounter all the time in Australia, where there are huge expanses of empty, & official OSM guidelines mean that not much shows :-( Can be worked around to a certain extent by tagging for the renderer by upping villages / hamlets to towns & making country roads highway=trunk but officially not approved. 
> On Sat, 7 Nov 2020 at 05:31, Seth Deegan <jayandseth at gmail.com> wrote: 
> A gravel area tag/tagging convention is needed. One use I've seen is highways in particular seem to have gravel separator between the actual road and usually grass. Standardizing a area (a way) with just the surface=gravel tag could work.  
> El El vie, nov. 6, 2020 a la(s) 12:34, Anders Torger <anders at torger.se> escribió: 
> ** As a minor note, I've noted there is no good tag for anonymous gravel 
> yards, which there are a lot of here. Abandoned quarry is the closest, 
> but still not right, as only some actually were gravel/sand pits to 
> start with. Those gravel yards are often leftovers from construction 
> work or forestry often even locals don't exactly know when or why they 
> were made. Today they are used mainly used for parking by people being 
> out in nature, but they are not maintained so they are not exactly 
> parking lots either.

Assuming of course that we're talking about the same thing - areas on
the side of the road where gravel was dumped while road work was taking

(NB not the same spot! & G Maps used as an example only , not for
mapping blah, blah, blah ...) 

These were discussed in the Australia list a little while ago:
with no real consensus but landuse=stockpile + resource=aggregate
(gravel / sand / rock etc) was fairly well received. 

Unfortunately, though, that won't render :-(, although a counter
suggestion of landuse=industrial + industrial=stockpile + resource=***
would :-)
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