[OSM-talk] Actually using OpenStreetMap and the usability of the current maps

Inge Wallin inge at lysator.liu.se
Mon Jul 28 13:33:05 BST 2008

On Monday 28 July 2008 12:16:53 Frederik Ramm wrote:
> Hi,
> > So, what are other use cases for OSM? Are the current OSM renderings good
> > for those use cases? Do we need more different renderings for different
> > use cases?
> We are not a map rendering project. We are a Geodata collection project.
> The fact that we have maps at all is more or less to show off what you
> can do with our data (plus, perhaps, as a feedback/debugging tool for
> our users); we do not aim to cater to every end-user's need with the
> pre-made maps we offer.

Maybe so.  But your point would perhaps be a bit stronger if not:

 * The Logo in the upper left of openstreetmap.org said "The Free Wiki World 
Map" (not "Geodata Collection").
 * The first sentence of the text under the logo said "OpenStreetMap is a free 
editable map of the whole world.", not "...is a free collection of geo data"

It's easy to get fooled from that, you know. ;-)

> If anything, we should aim to make it easy for other people to create
> suitable maps for whatever community they are in. I.e. we should not
> change our maps to make them suitable for your purpose, but we should
> enable YOU to create maps that are suitable for your purpose and others
> with the same requirements.

Two things.  First: YES, please make it easier to create suitable adapted 
maps.  Second: My point wasn't to make it perfect for *me*, but to make the 
default maps more usable for its intended purpose. That purpose is not stated 
anywhere -- that I could find.

> We could waste an enormous amount of time trying to discuss which kinds
> of default maps we should offer and how they should be styled, and we'll
> probably never reach results. I hope that, in the long run,
> OpenStreetMap will *not* offer *any* maps, just map data from which
> loads and loads of third parties create whatever maps they need.

Now, that's a bit pessimistic, isn't it?  "never get results"? Heck, we have 
very nice results already. I was just talking about making it even better 
than it already is.

The long run is the long run, and you may be right. But we are not there yet, 
and in the mean time I think we should offer the best possible map from the 
data as possible.

Richard Fairhurst wrote in another mail  that ""Showing off our coverage and 
completeness" is another use of the default map. That's a very good purpose, 
but it doesn't conflict with making it more usable for normal people. I do 
understand that having normal people accessing the servers will make very big 
demands on them, so the idea with the current maps could even be to make them 
more difficult to use in real life. I can understand that, but in that case 
it should perhaps be explained somewhere.


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