Archive for the ‘OpenStreetBrowser’ Category

Vortrag „OpenStreetMap – Kartographie für alle Zwecke“

Mittwoch, Oktober 9th, 2013

Morgen, den 10.10.2013 werd ich wieder mal einen Vortrag über die OpenStreetMap halten, diesmal auf der „Shareconomy“ Konferenz der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Datenverarbeitung.

Hier mein Abstract:

Am Anfang stand der Wunsch eine lizenzkostenfreie Straßenkarte der Welt zu erstellen und die OpenStreetMap war geboren – quasi die „Wikipedia der Landkarten“. Zuerst wurde sie von den großen kommerziellen Unternehmen belächelt – besonders aufgrund ihres scheinbar unstrukturierten simplifizierten Datenmodells. Schnell hat sich aber eine schier unüberschaubare Datenvielfalt etabliert, die sehr differenzierte thematische Karten ermöglicht – Karten historischer
Sehenswürdigkeiten, Radwegkarten, Karten für Personen mit eingeschränkter Mobilität oder speziell angepasste Karten für humanitäre Katastrophenfälle sind nur ein paar der Möglichkeiten.
Außerdem hat sich rund um die OpenStreetMap ein riesiges Ökosystem an Software entwickelt – das meiste davon natürlich Open Source. Schließlich wollen Daten gesammelt, eingetragen, abgezeichnet und vor allem weiterverarbeitet und schließlich dargestellt werden. Die großen Datenmengen stellen auch besondere Anforderungen an die Datenbanksysteme.
Die OpenStreetMap bildet inzwischen die Basis für einige erfolgreiche Unternehmen. Außerdem kann sie gut mit Open Data Initiativen kombiniert werden. Last but not least gibt es viele wissenschaftliche Projekte die sich mit diesen Daten auseinandersetzen.

Hier finden sich die Folien:



OpenStreetMap auf den Linuxwochen Wien 2011

Montag, Mai 2nd, 2011

Diese Woche, 5.-7. Mai 2011, finden wieder einmal die Linuxwochen in Wien statt. Ich wurde, wie letztes Jahr, dazu eingeladen etwas über die OpenStreetMap zu erzählen, und zwar am 5. Mai um 18:00. Vielleicht ist ja jemand meiner werten LeserInnenschaft interessiert, und beehrt mich mit ihrer/seiner Anwesenheit. Ich würde mich sehr darüber freuen :)

Hier der Abstract zu meinem Vortrag:

Neuigkeiten in der OpenStreetMap

Die OpenStreetMap, die Wikipedia für Landkarten, entwickelt sich stetig weiter. Inzwischen sind über 350.000 MapperInnen registriert, von denen im Schnitt 6.000 jede Woche aktiv sind und Änderungen an der Karte vornehmen.

Immer mehr kommerzielle Firmen entdecken die OpenStreetMap und verwenden sie als Datenquelle für ihre Services, sehr oft in Kooperation mit der OpenStreetMap-Community. Da die Lizenz CC-BY-SA für manche kommerzielle Firmen ein Problem darstellt, wurde ein Lizenzwechsel auf die selbstentwickelte ODbL (Open Database License) initiiert, der im April in die dritte Phase gegangen ist.

Auch in Österreich tut sich auch einiges. So hat – eine Kooperationsgemeinschaft der österreichischen Länder und dem Bund für Orthophotos – seine Photos zum Abzeichnen freigegeben. Der Verein OpenStreetMap Austria wurde gegründet, mit dem Ziel die OpenStreetMap in Österreich zu bewerben. Seine erste Aktivität ist die Organisation der „State Of The Map – Europe“ Konferenz, die im Juli in Wien stattfinden wird.

Über all das wird Stephan Plepelits berichten, aber auch über sein großes Projekt – den OpenStreetBrowser – der auf Version 2.0 zusteuert.

State of the Map 2009

Freitag, Juli 17th, 2009

As announced on my blog before, last weekend I went to the OpenStreetMap (OSM)-conference in Amsterdam, called the ‚State of the Map‚. The schedule featured a dense program of interesting talks, and several coffee breaks for networking. This year the Friday was the business-day, filled with talks about data quality and using OSM data in applications. Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to the community, with talks about the state of the OSM in different countries, new challenges for the project as it gets bigger and bigger and applications, applications, applications.

Some of the things which were interesting to me on the conference:

Data quality is a big issue for most of the people I talk with, people just can’t imagine, that data collected by a community can compete with commercial data. It is true, that the OpenStreetMap still has big white holes, especially on the country side. On the other hand completeness in the densely built-up areas (especially Europe) is much higher than in commercial map data (points of interests, foot- and cycleways, …), although assessment of this data shows, that most of the data has been created by a couple of people. Still, comparison of the street data with commercial data (done in the UK with Ordnance Survey data) show a very high correlation. A big advantage of the OpenStreetMap is the high actuality of the data, data often gets uploaded as soon as changes in the real world happen.

One big advantage of the OpenStreetMap is the big community. In March of this year the 100.000th user registered, last week there were already 135.000 users. For sure not all users are really active in the project, but at least about 10.000 users were active during the last two months. The big players in mapping business (Navteq, Teleatlas) have around 800 employees. The next goal for the OpenStreetMap are 1.000.000 registered users, for this, the project has to become more user friendly and faster.

Talking about user friendliness, one very interesting project are the ‚Walking Papers‚, designed by Michael Migurski (who I unfortunately failed to have a chat with. I wanted to talk about another of his projects, Cascadenik, which is used by my project OpenStreetBrowser). The idea is as brilliant as it is simple – you print a map of the region you are interested in, as you walk around you mark missing details (points of interests, roads, road names), scan the papers back in and upload them to the server, where they became available as background in your (and everybody elses) editor, to be drawn after. You don’t even need a GPS for this, because you can guess the position on the map. If you don’t have a scanner, you can send your papers per mail to some address, and they get scanned in for you.

It’s not possible to fit all interesting things I learned on the conference into this blog post, therefore I recommend you the video site of the conference, where eventually all talks will appear (hopefully; from last year still some talks are missing). All pictures uploaded to Flickr got the tag sotm09, all twitter messages got the tag #sotm09. On more link: a new webpage showing some great examples of mapping efforts:

In total about 250 people (mostly male geeks) attended the conference. I had the opportunity to talk to some of them and present my project the OpenStreetBrowser. Most were pretty impressed – I still hope it gets famous ;)

Again OpenStreetBrowser

Dienstag, Mai 5th, 2009

As I told I’m gonna present some features of the OpenStreetBrowser from time to time. It’s also a good documentation for the project.

Routes of public transportation

Routes of public transportation are still not being displayed on the main Mapnik and OsmaRender renderings, although they are very important in my opinion. For me this was actually the start of the project, I had planned to make a nice map with public transportation routes. Now they are only an overlay, as they would clutter the main map too much.

There are two noteworthy features: The references of routes sharing the same way get collected and separated by ‚,‘, which looks much better, and stops with the same name get combined and get a box drawn around. Both of these features improve visibility.
Tram and Bus routes around Alser Strasse in Vienna, Austria

Link to Wikipedia

In the OpenStreetMap it’s possible to link to the Wikipedia. The key is „wikipedia:language“, e.g. „wikipedia:en“ or „wikipedia:de“. If such a link exists, the OpenStreetBrowser displays an abstract of the article and an image, when it finds one (it has to be before the first abstract … this is something still to improve).
Showing the Wikipedia-Entry of the “Altes Rathaus” (old town hall) in Potsdam, Germany

Stylesheet for the Overlays

The last feature for this time is the newest feature. The styles of the Overlays „Food & Drink“, „Shops“, „Culture & Tourism“ and „Services“ is generated from a page in the OSM-Wiki. So if you find something missing on these overlays, or you have better icons (many objects don’t have an icon or share icons with other features), feel free to upload them there (the new style sheet will be used after the next database reload, so typically after 1-3 weeks).
Showing the Culture-Layer over Paris, France

If you have suggestions for new feature, complaints or praise, feel free to leave me a comment :)

Some Features of the OpenStreetBrowser

Montag, April 13th, 2009

This time I want to show you some features of the OpenStreetBrowser. One of the goals of my project is to display as many information as possible in a simple and understandable way. Sounds like the quadratur of the circle? Maybe it is :)


The first feature I want to show you are house numbers. Sounds rather boring, isn’t it? The default Mapnik and Osmarenders styles don’t rotate the numbers, so it’s hard to say where they belong to. It’s also a problem of the software (I can only speak for Mapnik, because I’m using it too), there isn’t really a possibility to rotate texts and icons. So you have to use crude workarounds, which are a pain in the ass. But I think I’ve done a pretty good job … although ideas for improvements are always welcome! The house numbers are also being listed in the details of the street in the side pane.

Housenumbers in Vienna

More informations about entering house numbers to OSM.


I don’t know about you, my precious reader, but I like visiting cemeteries. Maybe it’s a Viennese thing, they were always crazy about their afterlife. On cemeteries you can visit all these graves of famous people. Even better if you can see them on the map, isn’t it? The important graves on a cemetery are also listed in the side information pane. Time to visit your local cemetery!

What is still missing is the background of the cemeteries, at the moment there are theses crosses, which is not really appropriate for graves of other religions.

Waldfriedhof Dahlem in Berlin

There is no approved method for tagging graves in OSM yet, the OpenStreetBrowser currently accepts cemetery=grave and historic=grave.


Places (Countries, Regions, Cities, Villages, …) are only entered as Point (Node) to the OSM right now. In many cases you also have borders, but it’s hard to see them and the information which border belongs to which node is missing. The OpenStreetBrowser combines the borders and the nodes and shows both of them if you see the places‘ details.

City border of L’Aquila

The border is a relation of the type boundary or multipolygon, the tag admin_level matches more or less to the place-tag. To help find the correct border add the node to the relation and give it the role ‚label‘ (which is a proposed feature).

These were just three of the features of the OpenStreetBrowser. I will show you more another time.  If you have some ideas or questions, you can post them as comment here or to this page.

*drumroll* The OpenStreetBrowser

Dienstag, März 24th, 2009

I’m very happy, that I finally can publicly announce the project I was working on the last months. I already told you about the OpenStreetMap, this astonishing project with the goal of creating a free map (as in free speech and in free beer) of the world. The great thing about it … you can take the data, use your imagination and think of better ways to visualize the data. And I used my imagination and creativity and created the OpenStreetBrowser.

On the webpage you have a „Slippy Map“, as you know it from the OpenStreetMap Homepage or commercial services like Google Maps. But on the left side you can investigate the current map view. Get a list of Pubs or the Public Transport routes or a list of street names. When appropriate a thematic overlay is displayed. Just play with it, you will see you can’t stop :) If you want to get more information about an object, then just click on it on the map.

Screenshot of OpenStreetBrowser
So. I don’t want to go into more detail here. Just give it a try. If you want more information there’s a page in the OpenStreetMap-Wiki for the project.

Disclaimer: The project is not finished yet, it’s still a big construction site. So, please be patient if it gets slow or if you find bugs (please report them here) or something is still missing.

I want to send special thanks to Manuela for talking and encouraging and for sure for the web design. I’m looking forward for further co-operation. And I also want to thank Monika for mental assistance :)

Teaser for my OpenStreetMap-Project

Dienstag, Februar 17th, 2009

As I got stuck in Bulgaria, looking for flat-mates, I continued my work on my OpenStreetMap-Project, I was mentioning earlier on my blog (in fact I was not talking about this project since beginning of November).

As I already said, the OpenStreetMap is the Wikipedia of geographical data. The data is collected by volunteers or imported from free data sources (e.g. gouvernmental data if available or free satellite images). In Austria a company – plan.atdonated their data, as mapping is not their main business anymore. This improved the Austrian part of the OpenStreetMap greatly, especially on the countryside (although the import is not finished yet).

My project consists mainly of two parts. The first – and main part – is an interface to browse the available information in the OpenStreetMap. E.g. if you are looking for a pub or the nearest fuel station. But this is not the part I want to talk about this time.

The second part is an improved rendering of the OpenStreetMap. I’m not very satisfied with the default rendering, it looks very pale. I decided to make it more flashy. Additional various overlays can be displayed, e.g. the routes of public transportation (which none of the default renderers of OpenStreetMap do yet).

Attention, technical details: I’m using Mapnik as render engine, the same as the default view of the OpenStreetMap uses. To make developing of the new style easier, I’m using Cascadenik, a kind of CSS for Mapnik.

As I don’t want to announce my project here (it’s still quite buggy and slow), but I want to talk about it, I will show you some example renderings:

In the first example you can see a part of Bulgaria. As you can see the country borders are clearer, and the names of the Cities are displayed in the country language and in the English translation (as available).
In the second example you can see the surroundings of Schottentor in Vienna. Buildings have different colours, depending on their function and a little border.
The last example shows the inner city of Graz with an overlay of the routes of public transportation.

I’m busy developing on my application, I hope to be able to show you more of it soon.

A lot of things …

Donnerstag, November 6th, 2008

I really have to excuse, now there was a really long time without an article on my Blog. It’s not that there’s nothing to talk about, for sure I’m not getting bored that easily.

As I already announced I’ve been to a CouchSurfing-Meeting in Borovets, a skiing-resort in the Rila-Mountains at the weekend of October 24th-26th.
The Meeting started on Saturday, but I wanted to go there on Friday and use the whole weekend, especially as I was told, that this place is very good for hiking. I finally found some fellows – two more Erasmus students from Germany and Latvia and a CouchSurfer from Bulgaria (who did Erasmus at Vienna University of Technology some years ago and was studying at the same university here in Sofia too). We started our trip with an evening hike. We met in Sofia shortly after 6pm and travelled to Боровец (Borovets) by bus and taxi and started hiking around 8:30pm. So it was already really dark and we had to use our head lamps. After about two hours we reached our place for the night … a mountain hut. We were welcomed with a burning oven and candle light. We had some dinner and spend the rest of the evening playing cards.
Most of the next day we spent hiking, we hiked to one of the next peaks, Шатар (Schatar), with about 2500m over sea level. Unfortunately the weather was not very nice, it was very foggy and it even had some rain.

In the days after I got a nasty diarrhea with stomach cramps and fever … not very funny, but after three or four days it finally got better. So I spent a lot of time at home, in my bed or in front of the TV.

On the weekend I joined my first Critical Mass in Sofia with a borrowed bicycle. You know, this is this an international movement of cyclists who meet and cycle through town to fight for more rights for cyclists and other alternative forms of transportation. Here in Sofia we are still a small group, we just were like a dozen people or so. Afterwards I was invited to the national radio for a concert – some psychedelic underground rock band was playing there, which was pretty got. I met the husband and a flat-mate of Rossi, the CouchSurfer where I spent my first two weeks. I had thought I might meet him there, because he is working at this radio.

On Sunday I went hiking again, this time on the Vitosha, the mountain close to Sofia, to it’s highest peak, the Черни Връх (Cherni Vrah). This time we took it easy and used a chair lift for a part of our tour. Unfortunately the weather was again not very good.

Most of the last days I spent with my computer, because I’m working on a new web application (I also should study, I will do it tomorrow, promise!). I told you about the OpenStreetMap (OSM) before, which is a free alternative to Google Maps (and similar applications) and consists mainly of user generated content. I’m not very satisfied with the default view, as the public transport routes are not being displayed (at least not if you enter them in the preferred way). I was thinking about generating an own map style for a long time, and now I decided to just do it. The project is progressing quite nicely, and I think the OSM community will be quite excited about it. But at the moment I can’t show you anything yet, I will write a special article on my blog when it’s ready to be announced.

I could actually need some help with this project. I’m not very good at drawing and I need little icons for train, tram, bus and some more things. So if you want to help the open source community, this is your chance. :)

So, thanks for patience. Have a nice weekend!