[OSM-talk] Potlatch again

Mike Harris mikh43 at googlemail.com
Tue Jan 13 12:09:45 GMT 2009

As a relative newbie I still remember my first experiences with both
Potlatch and JOSM. I have no idea whether my own experience is typical but I
did find the learning curve steeper on Potlatch than on JOSM even though the
wikis imply the opposite. I think that Richard may have put his finger on it
- the newbie instructions for Potlatch are a little 'dense' - at least until
you are not quite a newbie!

I would like to help with rewriting these but don't feel that I am competent
enough yet - probably still doing some things wrong (and don't know how to

Also - for what it's worth - I find that I use both Potlatch and JOSM but
for different tasks. I use JOSM as my main editor and for doing bulk work on
new routes. I find Potlatch is better for doing minor tweaks and also for
Yahoo tracing (even with the JOSM plugins, the rectification seems better on
Potlatch - or am I just imagining this?!).

Mike Harris

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Fairhurst [mailto:richard at systemed.net] 
Sent: 12 January 2009 15:07
To: Talk Openstreetmap
Subject: Re: [OSM-talk] Potlatch again

Gert Gremmen wrote:

> Thank you Thomas,
> The image you provided to prove your solution was a complete surprise 
> to me and may contribute to a solution for this everlasting Potlatch 
> Critic.
> You are right, and I am right.
> My screen looks entirely different, due to the missed option (I mean: 
> I missed it and probably also those users that have problems editing 
> with Potlatch) to show ways as THIN LINES.
> Am I right in assuming that Potlatch in default mode shows fat ways 
> and fat nodes ? Then just changing the default setting of this switch 
> would improve a lot in editing quality.

Heh - you can't please all the people all the time.

I got asked to do the fat ways and fat nodes for our Stateside friends whose
main editing work is realigning raw TIGER data onto the better-rectified
Yahoo imagery, and were finding it frustratingly tedious to click on the
thin nodes.

So here's something you, and others reading this message, can do which would
actually be useful.

For each zoom level (z13-z20) Potlatch has its own line thickness, POI size
and node size. Personally I think z13-z16 are about right but z17-z20 need
some attention. (There's even a case for having z20 as super-thin lines
because, by definition, if you're editing at z20 you want precision.)

But I don't have all the answers and would like to know what others think.
How thick should they be? Do not put it here because mailing lists are
utterly useless for bug-reporting - things just get lost.  
Use this trac ticket:
Hey, if you've never used trac before it can be your introduction to this
fascinating world.

(While doing this, remember Potlatch takes a few seconds to redraw lines at
the right size for that zoom level. I need to speed that up in the next

> And to Richard:
> Why react so strong ?
> Instead of cursing  just ask why others experience problems and not 
> shoot (screw?) the messenger especially if he provides proof of 
> editing problems.

The way to provide proof of editing problems is to do it politely.  
Not screaming with capital letters everywhere. Not _assuming_ it's the fault
of the editor, that the editor author is unaware, and what I find most
offensive, your implication that the editor author is blissfully sailing
along without any intention to ever improve Potlatch, in a mail that arrived
a couple of hours after I'd checked in some more stuff for Potlatch and API

Despite all that, I would have responded more politely had you not done
exactly the same thing last month:

> Im a mapper, not a coder, and I won't make a Patch for obvious 
> reasons.

Patches don't have to be code. (I said this last month, too.)

Joining two ways in Potlatch is pretty easy. You mouse-over the other one
until the nodes light up blue, and a little tooltip appears at the top
right. It could be better (for example, I'd like to have "connection" nodes
appear as concentric circles - (o) - to make it
clear) but it's pretty good thus far.

So why do people get it wrong? And I'm not doubting that they do.

Well, one of the reasons is that our beginners' documentation is the weakest
part of the whole caboodle. Put yourself in the position of a newbie. You're
not sure what to do (as Chris Schmidt observed on #irc, "editing topology is
hard") - you may not even realise that the roads have to link together. So
you click the nice "Help/Wiki" link on the left. There's a big button marked
"Beginners' Guide", so you click that.

And then it all goes wrong.

First step: Collect Data. Erm - maybe. I don't think I need that, I just
want to draw a tram line along this road. And it's telling me something
about a collaborative mapping project for Korea. Maybe I'll skip that? This
map thing is harder than I thought.

Second step: Upload Data. Help. I need to upload something? What's that? I
have to save my files to GPX, it says? And "download it into JOSM for
editing"? What do all these strange letters mean?

It's insane. The user doesn't even know what Potlatch is yet, let alone
JOSM. They just clicked "Edit" to add 500m of tram line.

What would be the single best patch anyone could contribute to OSM right
now? Rewriting the beginner docs from scratch. I'm 100% serious.

> To d
> Thanks for putting oil on the waves....

+1 :)


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