[Talk-us] Highway Shield Rendering

Phil! Gold phil_g at pobox.com
Sat Apr 14 19:38:54 BST 2012

* Paul Johnson <baloo at ursamundi.org> [2012-04-13 06:30 -0700]:
> Wait, what?  I was under the impression that the "banners as a
> network" thing was proposed initially in this discussion, given that
> the "modifier" tag has been documented in the wiki for well over a
> year now.  And it makes a lot more sense, since bannered routes aren't
> a different network.

* Nathan Edgars II <neroute2 at gmail.com> [2012-04-13 15:56 -0400]:
> Whether or not there was a consensus last year, it's clear that
> there is none at the present time. See the recent thread about the
> network tag.

First, I have to apologize for not realizing that the network tag was
mentioned in the wiki.  I know
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Relation:route fairly well, but it
makes no mention of the modifier tag.  The only mention I can find on the
wiki is at
, which I didn't realize existed.

I've mostly been going based on discussion on this list, a summary of
which follows.  (Hang on, though.  Even as a summary, it's pretty long.  I
hope that I have adequately represent each person's oninion on the

Jan 01, 2011: highway shields: "get your kicks, where?" 

Thread mostly about Richard Weait's rendering of the Historic Route 66
shield, but Alan Mintz says:
> Cool. Shouldn't the relation be tagged:
> network=US:US
> ref=66
> modifier=HISTORIC 

and NE2 replies:
> Using the modifier tag for a "banner" seems wrong, as the route
> designation is e.g. 30 Business, not 30. It's a little more iffy for a
> historic route.

Presumably, Alan Mintz at the time would have supported, for US 1
Alternate, "network=US:US, ref=1, modifier=ALTERNATE", while NE2 would
have supported "network=US:US, ref=1 Alternate".  (More recent evidence
indicates that NE2 would now prefer "network=US:US, ref=1 Alternate,

Aug 20, 2011: Use of ref-tag on state highways

The thread was mostly about tagging ways, but it dipped into route relations a little.
Craig Hinners said:
> Similarly, instead of this style of tagging of US business routes (example
> found in Salisbury, MD):
> network=US:US
> ref=50 Business
> I'd prefer:
> network=US:US:BUSINESS
> ref=50

and Jason Straub separately said:
> As the person that just got done labelling each TX state highway, I'll
> chime in here with some comments.
> For the network tag, I think that the labelling should be (country :
> state network : network within the state : subnetwork in state), while
> the ref is JUST the number for that highway.  So:
> US:I -> Interstate
> US:I:BUS -> Business Interstate
> US:US -> US Route
> US:US:BUS -> Business US Route
> US:US:ALT:BUS -> Business Alt US Route

NE2 disagreed:
> I disagree with putting alternate and business in the network. These
> modifiers are part of the designation, and some states (Arkansas in
> particular) treat them as lettered suffixes rather than separate plates.

Mar 11, 2012: Route Relations and Special (Bannered) Routes

In was would be the first dedicated thread on the subject, I asked how
things should be tagged.

Richard Welty didn't like putting the modifier in the ref tag, but implied
that data consumers were using route relations' ref tags, which I don't
believe is true:
> i like the idea of separating banners out too, but many current data
> consumers assume that they can just use the ref tag to label a route and
> be done with it.

Craig Hinners again supported what he called
> This was discussed in the August 2011 thread, "Use of ref-tag on state
> highways".
> At the time, a number of people seemed to be on board with the
> "network-classification-per-banner" scheme, as in:
>  network=US:US:Alternate
>  ref=1

NE2 disagreed:
> It's obvious to me that the "banner" is not part of the network. US 1
> Alternate is part of the U.S. Highway system (US:US), not some mythical
> "U.S. Highway Alternate" system.
> It also makes the most sense to put it in the ref tag. Otherwise there's
> inconsistency between an alternate signed as US 1 Alternate and one
> signed as US 1A (with the suffix in the shield). In each case I'll also
> use the modifier tag (modifier=Alternate/A).

Richard Weait also liked network-classification-per-banner:
> increasing specificity on the network tag like network=US:US:Alt
> follows the original intent of the network tag.  It also offers the
> least surprise to naive consumers of the data.

AJ Ashton also liked network-classification-per-banner:
> On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM, Richard Weait <richard at weait.com> wrote:
> > increasing specificity on the network tag like network=US:US:Alt
> > follows the original intent of the network tag.  It also offers the
> > least surprise to naive consumers of the data.
> I would agree with this. From the point of view of using the data to
> make maps, I like this approach better than a separate modifier tag.

It was based on that thread and the previous one (Use of ref-tag on state
highways) that I felt there was a reasonable consensus in favor of
network-classification-per-banner, based on the fact that only one person
objected to it.

Apr 02, 2012: Highway Shield Rendering

Hey, that's this thread!

Chris Lawrence (the person who originally wrote the bit on the wiki about
using the modifier tag) appears to also support
> After more thought, in the general case, deprecating modifier and just
> using network to denote variations using the established ":" separator
> convention is probably sanest.

Paul Johnson feels as NE2 does that this means that the network tag no
longer represents a distinct network (and that's a bad thing):
> Well, that kind of breaks the whole "network" concept then, and the
> key should probably be renamed to fit the expected data...

Craig Hinners, although comfortable using the network tag to represent
distinct network subsets separately from their mainline portions, doesn't
like using it to mark geographically-distinct signage for what's otherwise
the same network subset:
> Phil! Gold <phil_g at pobox.com>:
> > It seems to me that network=US:US:Business:MD is the logical extension of
> > a scheme that has US:US and US:US:Business.
> My initial reaction is that this goes too far in mixing geographic,
> classification, and rendering concepts, which has a bad smell

Michal Migurski says he's used the modifier tag as a data consumer:
> For what it's worth, as a renderer I preferred the "modifier" tag when
> doing the Terrain shields:
>         http://maps.stamen.com/terrain/#13/34.0510/-118.2146
> Modifiers in the ref tag would be a close second; those typically need a
> lot of scrubbing and normalization an yway.
> In the network tag would be the biggest hassle of all.

I mostly support the network-classification-per-banner (though from a
coding perspective, the alternatives would be just as much work for me to
> I think this highlights a reason to use network subsets in the network
> tag: because it's a simpler rule to apply than deciding whether a
> variant route is different enough to deserve its own network value.

If you count out all the emails on the subject, there are probably more
emails opposing the network-classification-per-banner approach, but if you
count the people expressing opinions on the matter,
network-classification-per-banner has a strong majority.

...computer contrarian of the first order... / http://aperiodic.net/phil/
PGP: 026A27F2  print: D200 5BDB FC4B B24A 9248  9F7A 4322 2D22 026A 27F2
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