[OSM-talk] Funding of three infrastructure projects : Nominatim, osm2pgsql, Potlatch 2

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Sun Aug 2 08:28:22 UTC 2020

Skyler Hawthorne wrote:
> Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I think using any funds at all to
> continue support for a tool that 1% of editors use would be wasteful.
> Flash is, for all intents and purposes, a dead technology. This
> money is better spent on other uses.

The entire point is to move away from a dead technology (Flash Player) to a supported one (AIR).

On the percentage stat, it's worth bearing in mind that the P2 project is by a long chalk the smallest sum (€2500) of the three that OSMF is proposing here. As a point of comparison, iD was initially developed with a $575,000 grant from the Knight Foundation in 2012, so roughly $646,000 now. Very conservatively estimating the cost of employing 1-2 developers to code on iD since then, you get a development cost of roughly €0.004 per (2020) changeset for iD vs $0.0002 for P2, which is kind of fun.

(I'm actually pleasantly surprised that P2 still has so many changesets - 20 million last year, and I'm guessing high teens this year - given how difficult it is to get Flash Player running in most browsers these days. That suggests that P2's users are using it because they want to do so, not because they are magically unaware of the existence of other editors. I suspect if you could find another way of getting 20 million edits for €2500 then we would snap your hand off.)

Looking forward, and continuing the theme of ROI, the other benefit of the project is that it enables development work to continue on P2. The reason I have bid for funding for this, for the first time in 14 years of developing editors for OpenStreetMap, is that it will take a solid chunk of sustained work to do the AIR conversion and a bunch of other stuff I believe will make P2 more sustainable into the future, and there is a hard deadline for that sustained work (i.e. Flash Player switch-off at the end of the year). It's not a project that can just be done in evenings here and there. That enables further, unfunded developments in the future, and in turn I hope the tradition of other editors taking inspiration from P2 can continue - it's not for nothing that JOSM has a Potlatch 2 style and a "Potlatch mode" for editing.

But you are, of course, welcome to develop and put forward a project to OSMF which you believe will have more bang for the buck. "Other uses" is easy to type but doesn't actually mean anything until you identify what those uses are, and crucially, find someone who is prepared to do them.

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