[Talk-us] Standard (mapnik) toolchain/processes: can we teach these better?

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Mon May 26 18:24:31 UTC 2014

I appreciate Simon's response that it seems that the "really coolish" 
(people, processes...) happen in what often seems like a bubble: 
that is exactly what I was referring to.  It's like the Cool Kids 
have their "insider club," a world of their own, THEN there are The 
Rest of Us.  The +1 responses I got indicate I'm not the only one who 
feels this way.  Again, I don't think Andy and "the other 
clockmakers" are a secret society -- indeed I have written a few 
emails to Andy personally and he has very kindly responded to my 
pointed questions with aplomb and grace, so I see no ill will being 
harbored, nor does it seem he/they wish to remain in the shadows (if 
they do, please remedy that!).  But how they document their processes 
might either be done more openly, or just "more," period.  Especially 
the "why, beforehand and decision-making" part of it.  Maybe they 
just need to point to comprehensive block diagrams or something 
loosely resembling "the guts of OSM for Dummies" that The Rest of Us 
can easily find and digest.  I realize this is a bit of a wish, but I 
think it is a high-value effort that would pay dividends in the near 
future:  such sunshine in a project like ours seems a bit overdue, 

Simon's description of future wishes for what can realistically be 
achieved with Standard rendering is excellent, and again, very much 
appreciated.  I crave conversations about OSM like this.  I just wish 
there were a better method to "pull it out" of the greater/wider 
knowledge of OSM than by a grumpy talk-us post complaining about what 
amounts to "a poor map to how our map works."

I also appreciate Martin's +1 about this "lightweight way to push 
such information out to our contributors...(yet we) haven't developed 
a culture of actively informing before the fact."  YES!  EXACTLY! 
Let us endeavor to do exactly this.  And Thank You, Martin, for the 
Wochennotiz.  I have recently discovered the Weekly OSM Summary, 
which feels like a good start in this direction:  like a small 
newsletter about people in OSM and the technical, social and 
interesting things they are doing RIGHT NOW in the project.  This can 
only help gear up the inevitable even more questions than it answers. 
Now, we just need a forum (wiki pages?  not really the best venue) 
where we can discuss such things.  In my opinion, this is a 
critically missing component of a rich and vibrant project like OSM. 
I like our Help forum, with its interactive feel, I just wish there 
were a place we might discover intentions of what the future will 
bring:  THAT seems to be the missing component.  Simon did just that, 
but it felt like I was tugging on wild horses to learn it.

In the hobby of amateur/ham radio, the usually older fellows who just 
know everything that you could talk to at a meet or on the air are 
called "Elmers."  I know Elmers exist in OSM, I just don't want to 
bother them with every little question, patient as they usually are 
in answering each one I might allow to rise high enough to be worthy 
of asking them.  If you are an Elmer, and have the time to spare, 
please help our community develop a way to share your deeper 
knowledge, feeding the cravings of intermediates like me looking to 
grow into more advanced contributors.  If you are such a growing 
contributor (and who isn't?!) please help us to channel our questions 
and thirst for specific knowledge into better sub-communities of 
sharing, especially the one regarding future directions of our 

Thank you to everybody who read and participated in this thread!


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