[OSM-talk] Actually using OpenStreetMap and the usability of thecurrent maps
Andy Robinson (blackadder-lists)
ajrlists at googlemail.com
Mon Jul 28 23:15:03 BST 2008
Inge Wallin wrote:
>Sent: 28 July 2008 10:45 AM
>To: talk at openstreetmap.org
>Subject: [OSM-talk] Actually using OpenStreetMap and the usability of
>This is a mail that I have been wanting to send for some time, but wanted
>think a little more about the subject before I actually did.
>The topic is how the maps of OpenStreetMap are actually used by ordinary
>users. I know that the data of OSM is supposed to be used in new exciting
>ways like the cycle maps, but the majority of the users are just going to
>what the programmers have made available to them.
>So the question then becomes, is the current renderings good? For which
>Before we can discuss how good the maps are, we have to describe the
>use cases. I will start with my own here, and hope that you will fill in
>own ways of using maps in general and OSM in particular.
>I recently bought a cheap navigator, but before that I often used a
>Swedish map services to navigate to places when I went there for my work.
>print out the map on paper on a low zoom level, showing where I would go on
>large roads. Then I'd print out maps using higher and higher zoom levels
>closer and closer to my goal so that I can see which intermediate and
>roads that I'd have to take to reach my goal.
>So, would OSM work for that usecase? No, I don't think so. Here is why:
> * Names! There are far too few names on the map, especially on low zoom
>levels. It's difficult to get a feeling for where you are and orient
>on the map if you cannot find names on the map. The commercial maps show
>and lots of names, and that is a good thing. We should make names appear on
>the maps earlier.
>* Distinctions between roads. In opposition to the case for names, there
>too many roads on the large scale maps. Here is what the current map looks
>like around my home city:
>There is too little distinction between the motorway, the few primary
>highways and the secondary. I don't think the tertiary highways should
>be on that map. Once they are all mapped they will provide a messy
>making the important roads even more difficult to see.
>* Marking important roads. In the map above, you can also see that there is
>marking of even the motorway (E4) or primary roads (in this case national
>roads 34 and 50). This is like names for cities, towns and villages: it
>it more difficult to follow where you are on the map.
>So, what are other use cases for OSM? Are the current OSM renderings good
>those use cases? Do we need more different renderings for different use
>I think that OSM has reached a state of maturity where we need to start
>discussing how the default renderings are used in real life.
This is where we will find that there are two schools.
The first point you make is about "users". Of our 50,000 registered "users"
only about 11% contribute data each month. Allowing for the fact that some
users will only contribute irregularly then perhaps at best we might say we
have an 20/80 split between those that are working for the project by
contributing data and those that are waiting eagerly to see and use the
fruits (or are waiting for a simple tool to add their street or POI and
nothing more). These numbers ignore those that just brose by and never take
an interest in the project itself.
You ask the question about whether the current renderings are any good.
Personally it's not something I'm concerned about at this point in time, I'm
in the "collect data" school. As long as the rendering gives me enough to
check I mapped it the way I intended then it's done its job. Anything more
is somewhat icing on the cake.
You seem to be in the "I want a better looking map" school and I'm sure with
time there will be plenty of individuals and organisations outside of OSM
that will make very pretty maps with the data. For now what we have will do
for me and I'm grateful to those that put in the effort to make them
The rest of what you say to be quite honest has past me over. Its talking
about the way to display data, ie the cartographic look and the way data is
filtered. If you have the data then you can make it look how you want so
these are your interests and not necessarily the next persons. If the
project was a cartographic project
Now I appreciate that you don't want to get into programming to achieve the
look you want to see, and that's a valid point. Nor do I. Thus in time I
hope our API will be developed to offer the raw data in different formats
with different levels of filtering. That's some way off though, let's keep
the focus on filling up the database for a bit longer, the rest can follow
along when the focus changes and our need for the raw data diminishes. For
now I'll give 100% support to the 20%, the 80% should wait some more or
better still try to do some mapping, somewhere, anywhere!
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