OpenStreetMap OpenTech 2011


Published on

Talk given at OpenTech 2011. An overview of the developer ecosystem around OpenStreetMap data, and how web and mobile app developers can use OpenStreetMap.

More details:

Published in: Technology, Business
1 Comment
1 Like
  • See these slides in a more static way over on my blog

    There's also a youtube video of the talk (linked from ^ )
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Open Technology enthusiasts will have heard of OpenStreetMap before
  • If you've only taken a quick look, you'll perhaps have the idea that OpenStreetMap is a competitor to Google maps. It kind of is that, but that's really not the whole story.
  • It's more accurate to compare OpenStreetMap with wikipedia. It is very much the wikipedia of maps. Similar for a number of reasons....
  • Like wikipedia we do mass collaboration. We have getting on for 400,000 registered users. These people can all edit the map.
  • So we have an edit tab. Users can view the map, and then move across to the edit tab enter the editing software. A vector based map editing environment.
  • Like wikipedia, Openstreetmap is open licensed. All the data is released with an creative commons license
  • We have an OpenStreetMap foundation. This is a not-for-profit organization. Like wikipedia, we didn't manage to register as a UK charity because it's too awkward (The charity commission isn't geared up to deal with Internet-based good causes) but effectively we're a charity, or rather we do deserve to be a charity. The foundation is quite small. It doesn't employ any people, and so there's relatively little money changing hands. Everyone involved in OpenStreetMap are volunteers.
  • Including me... Just to introduce myself a little bit. I am a volunteer and enthusiast, active in the OpenStreetMap community in various ways since 2006. I do have a day job. At we do a lot of work with open data, geo technology and transport related stuff. So I do get to use OpenStreetMap sometimes with day to day work, but essentially I do OpenStreetMap in my free time as a volunteer.
  • What about using OpenStreetMap? Well many web developers will think of the Google maps thing of embedding a map on your website, and you can certainly do that with OpenStreetMap. Here's a an Oxford University website using embedding “slippy map” JavaScript and showing OpenStreetMap tiles:
  • So what's going on when you embed maps in this way. There's actually two quite distinct things going on. Javascript on your website will run in the browser to display the panning zooming map interface. This fetches tiles from a tile server. These are little square images which make up the map. When you see OpenStreetMap used in this way, you'll often see people using a JavaScript library called OpenLayers. It's a popular because it's open source and it's quite good. But it's a separate project from OpenStreetMap, and in fact there are many different javascript libraries to choose fromfor displaying a slippy map. Computer image from
  • You can even use the Google maps Javascript to display OpenStreetMap tiles. This looks a bit weird but you may be interested in following this approach if, for example, you have a whole bunch of marker overlays code already written with Google maps. You can still present OpenStreetMap as a base map, or even just as an alternative choice for your users.
  • So the message to web developers is, please go ahead and use OpenStreetMap in this way, instead of boring old Google maps. OpenStreetMap tiles are available for free with a creative commons licensee
  • And mobile developers too. You can bring the OpenStreetMap tiles into mobile apps.
  • So we have this OpenStreetMap tile server pumping out tiles to various people's websites (and to the display on of course) But we're missing something from this picture...
  • We have raw map data being processed to create this tiles on the tile server
  • This is process called rendering. We go from vector data, the geographical coordinates of every point along every road, to a rasterised map image, which then gets chopped up into tiles.
  • The raw data, as it turns out, is what OpenStreetMap is really all about. We're open at the raw data level, offering up geo data which underlies the map, via an API and via planet downloads.
  • So the OpenStreetMap data feeds into the tile server...
  • But also to an API and to planet downloads. So lets take a look at the API...
  • This is an XML API which is created in ruby on rails, along with the OpenStreetMap website.
  • It's actually a read/write API, so the editing software which allows people to contribute, will write changes back to the database via this API. App developers and web developers can also access the API, for example to request a small bounding box of data. * * This is not really what the API is for. It's actually primarily to support editor software. Some people in the community also work with the API to do scripted importing. Advanced developers might like to look at providing OSM editing functionality in their apps. But most developers will actually want to look at...
  • ...the planet downloads. This provides all the raw data as a bulk download for the entire planet.
  • The planet file itself is a bit of a monster. 16Gigabytes of compressed XML. We also publish diff files, so developers can download the planet file once and then sync your data with updates from the community on a minutely basis.
  • So you might like to look at doing at yourself if you have a server handy, but a nice consequence of this, is that we get this middle tier of servers being set up. Mostly these are by third parties. Extracts mean that you don't have to download the whole planet. You can get just the UK extract for example. The data gets converted into other useful formats too. You can download OSM data as shapefiles or maps for garmin units. Nominatim is a search service using OSM data (geocoding and reverse geocoding) XAPI is an extended API which allows you to do more flexible querying, for example get all the libraries in London. Think of the mobile apps you could develop with that kind of data.
  • So we're starting to see a sort of ecosystem of OpenStreetMap data users
  • And notice how the OpenStreetMap tile server starts too look like just one small part of this
  • What about if you wanted to set your own tile server?
  • This is where things get really pretty! You can run the rendering software yourself, so taking the raw data and creating raster maps. Here you see some examples such as So you can choose which types of data you want to emphasise. This gives you full cartographic control over the output. There's a choice of different rendering softwares. For tile servers people are mostly using “Mapnik”.
  • Setting up your own tile server is a pretty technical process. We'd like to make it easier. But as a web developer this means you start to have a choice of different tile servers. Take a look at (and ) (and ) So still displaying OpenStreetMap, but not necessarily taking your tiles from the OpenStreetMap tile server. This limited idea of server tiles (competing with google maps) is only a small part of OpenStreetMap is about
  • The core purpose of OpenStreetMap is to create and release raw geodata with an open license. Data is at the center of this ecosystem. Around the edge of the diagram is an exploding number of interesting new uses of map data.
  • Websites. Mobile apps. Navigations systems. 3D rendering experiments. Some of these are commercial enterprises (and you are allowed to use OpenStreetMap for commercial uses) Some are university projects. Some just from “bedroom coders” . Open data enables interesting unexpected uses.
  • We're building a map from scratch so that we can release it with an open license. This is a lot of work, so we need a lot of people to join in with mapping. We need people use openstreetmap and expose it to more people, to attract more mappers.
  • This is an old slide explaining what's basically going on with OpenStreetMap in relation to Ordnance Survey. As OSM quality improves, at zero cost, it exerts a downward pressure on the price of traditionally licensed datasets
  • The situations a bit more complicated than that of course This year Ordnance Survey released some of their datasets for free. StreetView is perhaps the most useful. Whether OSM is better or worse than Streetview is debatable , but when you consider that StreetView is a raster map, OSM is potentially much more useful (all depends on your use case) They definitely have NOT released all their dataset for free. The popular landranger, still charged for. MasterMap is the super-detail dataset which you still pay through the nose for as part of the planning process. OSM isn't really trying to reach the level of detail of MasterMap, but may perhaps exert a downward pressure on their price point.
  • There's several ways you can help OpenStreetMap. As I've stressed in this talk, we'd like more people to use openstreetmap. This will help attract more people to contribute to the map. If you'd like to join in with mapping in London, follow @OSMLondon on twitter. We like help with developing OpenStreetMap. We need help with the core site and API (particularly ruby on rails pros) , but can get involved as a developer in many and varied areas the ecosystem. Remember it's effectively a charity. When you help OpenStreetMap you're doing a good thing.
  • These slides are (of course) freely re-usable under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License Map images cc-by-sa2 contributors.,,, OSMC Reitkarte,, ö,,, . Wrecking ball photo by Rhys's Piece Is. Photo of me photo mapping by Gordon Joly Adapted free clip-art from:,
  • OpenStreetMap OpenTech 2011

    1. 1. Harry Wood
    2. 2. Open Source
    3. 3. wikipedia of maps
    4. 4. Mass Collaboration! > 350,000 registered users
    5. 6. RAW DATA Open Licensed
    6. 7. <ul>Not for profit foundation </ul><ul>No employees. All volunteers </ul>
    7. 8. Volunteer: Mapper/Developer/Community <ul><li>Open Data services
    8. 9. Geotech and Transport
    9. 10. use OpenStreetMap a bit </li></ul><ul>(@harry_wood on twitter) </ul>
    10. 11. Use OpenStreetMap Embed on your own website Javascript map display brings in tiles
    11. 12. “tiles?” OpenStreetMap tile server Javascript map display
    12. 14. Web developers go forth! Use OpenStreetMap (tile server)
    13. 15. ...and mobile developers too
    14. 16. OpenStreetMap tile server Many websites & mobile apps
    15. 17. OpenStreetMap tile server Raw Data! Many websites & mobile apps
    16. 18. Vector Raster Rendering
    17. 19. RAW DATA Open Licensed <ul>Open access via API & planet downloads </ul>
    18. 20. OSM tile server websites & apps OSM Data
    19. 21. OSM tile server websites & apps API OSM Data Planet downloads
    20. 22. API Planet downloads OSM Data
    21. 23. OSM Data Planet downloads Read/Write Editors API Contributors Apps / Websites Developers
    22. 24. OSM Data Planet downloads Read/Write API Apps / Websites Developers
    23. 25. OSM Data Planet downloads Read/Write API Apps / Websites Developers (16Gb) diff downloads (smaller)
    24. 26. OSM Data Planet downloads Read/Write API (16Gb) diff downloads (smaller) Nominatim XAPI Extracts & conversions
    25. 27. OSM tile server API OSM Data Planet downloads Nominatim XAPI Editors Contributors Extracts & conversions
    26. 28. OSM tile server API OSM Data Planet downloads Nominatim XAPI Editors Contributors One small part Extracts & conversions
    27. 29. OSM tile server API OSM Data Planet downloads Nominatim XAPI Editors Contributors Your own tile server? Extracts & conversions
    28. 31. OSM tile server API OSM Data Planet downloads Nominatim XAPI Editors Contributors Tile servers Extracts & conversions
    29. 32. API OpenStreetMap Planet downloads Nominatim XAPI Editors Contributors Tile servers API Extracts & conversions
    30. 33.
    31. 34. Building a map from scratch <ul><li>On the ground surveys
    32. 35. Lot of work (needs lots of people) </li></ul>GPS
    33. 36. OSM and Ordnance Survey £many £0 Low quality High quality OS OSM
    34. 37. OSM and Ordnance Survey £many £0 Low quality High quality OS MasterMap OSM OS StreetView OS Landranger
    35. 38. <ul><li>Help contribute to the map
    36. 39. Show the tiles on your website
    37. 40. Use the geo data
    38. 41. Help develop OpenStreetMap </li></ul>Not-for-profit OpenStreetMap Workshop this weekend!
    39. 42. @harry_wood (and @OSMLondon)
    40. 43. Harry Wood has been an OpenStreetMap enthusiast, and contributor since 2006. He works as a senior software engineer at on projects relating to transport and GPS data analysis. Previously he worked in a technical and OpenStreetMap community development role at CloudMade. In 2011 he has continued to volunteer for the project in several roles, as mapper, developer, documenter, community coordinator, promoter, and the chief London event organiser. These slides are (of course) freely re-usable under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License Map images cc-by-sa2 contributors.,,, OSMC Reitkarte,, ö,,, . Wrecking ball photo by Rhys's Piece Is. Photo of me photo mapping by Gordon Joly Adapted free clip-art from:,
    1. A particular slide catching your eye?

      Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.