[OSM-talk] Welcome box on the new map page

SomeoneElse lists at mail.atownsend.org.uk
Sat Nov 30 19:24:31 UTC 2013

Simon Poole wrote:

> I really fail to see what you believe was better about the old layout,
> maybe if you could give an example?

Just 5 examples to start with:

1) On the main osm.org site, the extra space taken up by the bar at the 
top and the huge "welcome" area at the left distracts from the map in a 
way that the rectangular left-hand bar didn't - it's easier to mentally 
exclude a left-hand bar and concentrate on the remaining rectangle in a 
way that it isn't possible to exclude the welcome box and concentrate on 
the remaining L-shaped 3/4 of the screen.

2) Browse pages are significantly less functional than previously. If I 
go to "http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/relation/404079" I see the 
tags on the relation, but none of the member ways unless I scroll the 
left-hand area down.  Clearly this screen was designed by people who 
never use browse pages (something borne out to some extent by the 
comments on the pull request).  On browse pages, the picture really 
isn't important to users; it's the "boring numbers" (to echo a comment 
on the pull request) that are.

3) That example browse page has ways descending higgledy-piggledy down 
the screen (The word "way" for ways that have a pictorial representation 
has that pictorial representation to the left; it does not line up above 
the word "way" for other ways).

4) The "view" tab seems to have disappeared.  That means if something 
has been typed in the address bar and I zoom in on something else 
interest I can't then press "view" to get a link to the current map on 

5) If I navigate to an area where data can't be displayed because 
"Unable to load map data, too large of an area (333.48). Area must be 
smaller than 0.25 square degrees.", I can't untick the data layer 
because it's greyed out.  Even if I close the data browser at the left 
and the layer switcher the "Unable to load map data..." message 
remains.  Presumably I have to zoom in, open the layer switcher, untick 
the box, and then zoom out again?

Generally speaking, the whole thing looks a bit "Fisher Price" - 
usability has been sacrificed in favour of superficial prettiness. 
However, I fail to see who the new design is "for".  It's clearly not 
for casual users (they'll get driven away by the ridiculous "welcome" 
box and the new "about" screen).  It's not for mappers (the browse pages 
and changeset feeds are siginficantly less functional).  Maybe it's 
designed to do what many people (myself included) have often said to new 
users on the mailing lists and the help site - remember that "osm.org" 
is just one example map made with OSM data among many.  If you want a 
cycle map with a sensibly-sized layer switcher and a working permalink 
function, use http://www.opencyclemap.org/ instead!

I understand the reticence on behalf of many people to criticise 
suggestions from the (not being directly paid to do so) developers of 
the osm.org site.  As a software developer myself, being asked "how am I 
supposed to use _that_?" and being told "that's rubbish, please start 
again!" aren't nice, but sometimes are necessary.  I'm also aware of the 
alleged Henry Ford quote "If I had asked people what they wanted, they 
would have said faster horses" - people are naturally resistant to 
change, failing to appreciate changes that can allow better things to 
happen in the future.  However in this case I think the new design has 
genuinely got it wrong and needs a serious rethink - what should be the 
site design that casual visitors see?  What about regular mappers who 
just want to get at the "boring numbers"?



PS:  An obvious response to the above is "well what do _you_ think the 
front page of osm.org should look like?".  My response is simple - 
http://openstreetmap.de/. That, and the associated 
http://openstreetmap.de/karte.html do a far better job of explaining OSM 
and the community than the main site currently (and have done for some 

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