[OSM-talk] Tools for a better tomorrow

Andrew Harvey andrew.harvey4 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 22 10:43:30 GMT 2011

On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 11:49 AM, Serge Wroclawski <emacsen at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think there's been a useful discussion in the other thread for ideas
> which might help the project move forward, and so I'm going to lay
> them out and hopefully we'll have a more focused discussion.
> Idea 1: Better collaboration, especially regarding changes people make.
> This is something that several people expressed as an issue. They want
> to be able to discuss changesets better, and be able to refer to
> changesets in changesets.
> I have some ideas on communication which I hope to announce in a few
> weeks. As for changes in changeset, I think that could be solved with
> a new changeset tag "refers_to" or "child_of", and the value would be
> the original changeset.

I support this. I see the current situation as you can either pm a
changeset author with a query about one of their changesets and leave
the rest of the community out of the discussion, or post about it on a
local talk and potentially leave the person who made the original
changeset in the dark because they don't read the mailing list. I
think an open discussion with all people able to weigh into the debate
is better.

Some facility for discussing changesets would hopefully include OSM
contributors who don't read their local mailing list. Perhaps a
section under http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/changeset/1 which
has comments that OSM users can post to can help for discussion on
specific changesets without leaving the community out of the
discussion. The changeset author could then get alerts when someone
posts a comment on their changeset.

> Idea 2: An "Import" Layer
> The idea didn't come up this way, but one of the topics of discussion
> at a recent Wikipedia event I attended was the importance of Wikipedia
> Commons. Where Wikipedia is a secondary source, Wikipedia Commons
> allows users to upload primary sources for access.
> In the OSM context, the idea was for us to have an upload function
> like we do for GPX, but that would support import data, such as
> shapefile, KML, etc.
> This data could be used by users working on data.

I support this. This would hopefully prevent blind imports, but still
allow contribution of bulk data. Contributors could then sort though
the bulk import and see which parts to import into the main db, which
to omit, and which to merge.

> Idea 3: Better import testing
> If people are interested, I talked about this idea a while back, of a
> testing framework for imports and bots.
> This can include maps, but also (I think) should include seeing some
> sort of changeset of proposed changes, and allow users to comment on
> the process and output, before it hits the main database.

I think that some kind of dev branch to the main API would be helpful
for large or potentially controversial edits. I may make a changeset,
but I don't want to upload it to the main API because it needs to be
discussed with the community first. Currently I would have to either
upload it and deal with discussion after the upload (bad), or send an
osmChange file as an attachment to the local list (which is bad also
as there is no version control when community members start bouncing
the proposed osmChange back and forth).

> Idea 4: Better comparison tools.
> A common concern by those wanting to do imports is we lack good
> comparison tools.
> Are there other things folks think we need or could be doing better?
> - Serge
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