Like MapQuest, but Open
December 18, 2010 8:18 AM   Subscribe uses OpenStreetMap (previously, -er, -erer, -est) data served through MapQuest's own server, and any edits feed back into the main OpenStreetMap database.

In other OpenStreetMap news, they've recently been able to license Bing Maps aerial imagery for tracing maps after OSM founder Steve Coast joined Bing Mobile.
posted by scruss (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I looked up my home town (population 200,000) and found almost no listings of anything. Google maps, on the other hand, already shows the names of parks and schools and some businesses, restaurants, etc.
posted by rebent at 8:27 AM on December 18, 2010

maybe I just don't get it...
posted by rebent at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2010

I tried making some changes to some minor map errors, but it went stuck on "Uploading changes" for like 5 minutes, then said failure error, then the Save button went gray.

Also sometimes I click a node and end up with this dotted line that follows my mouse, and I can't get it to stop. I also couldn't get it to split a road until I started clicking random nodes, and I still don't know what it is I did to get it to work. They clearly did not put much work into the intuitiveness of this interface.
posted by crapmatic at 9:44 AM on December 18, 2010

Rebent, the difference is with OpenStreetMap that you can just go and add those details - unless you really didn't know there were any parks, schools or restaurants near you. Think of it as like Wikipedia except for maps.
posted by robertc at 9:45 AM on December 18, 2010

rebent, MapQuest's style is a bit sparse. Here's Kalamazoo in, or OpenStreetMap's default/Osmarender/Cycle Map view. If you don't see stuff you know is there, add it!

crapmatic, the Potlatch 2 editor isn't the easiest to use, but it's doing a pretty complex job. If you get a trail attached to your pointer, hit Esc and it should go away - the editor thinks you're trying to add more points to a way.
posted by scruss at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2010

Thanks, I played with it some more and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I can definitely see a need for it, as I live in an exurb area and ALL the map databases are out to lunch, especially with roads which don't exist, have become overgrown, or have been rerouted. However I think this would have to really take off since there's so much geographical data out there, at least on the same level as Wikimapia, and it's kind of a dry activity.
posted by crapmatic at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2010

It's great to see them working with OSM, but they really need to do something about the performance and intuitiveness; I can't imagine any casual users doing anything with this, and dedicated users can get to the same maps without the MapQuest overhead by going directly to OSM. It's just too slow and too primitive.

(Also, the scroll wheel's behavior seems to make the map zoom, but without any regard for where the cursor is ... I don't know if this is "working as designed" but IMO it's a flaw. If you can't make the scroll wheel mimic Google Maps' behavior, just disable it.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:33 PM on December 18, 2010

I'd never heard of Wikimapia before. I can't see how their data can claimed to be CC-licensed, as it's traced from Google Maps. The quality of Wikimapia is really dismal in my area, and because it appears to be a derived work, I'm wary of spending any time on it.
posted by scruss at 1:40 PM on December 18, 2010

OpenStreetMap is really concentrating on, well, streets (and paths and trails and so on) rather than local-business-search, although it can contain that kind of information. Its addressing/geocoding schema is pretty weak too. That said, I like the project a lot and contribute to it regularly; I think it has the potential to be an awesome resource.
posted by hattifattener at 2:48 PM on December 18, 2010

I occasionally enjoy adding POIs and fixing up roads in my area from my GPS tracks. Other people have already done a lot of the gruntwork, though. It pleases me to add exit numbers and such. I'll have to check out the Mapquest interface. Potlatch is kinda screwy, and JOSM is a resource hog.
posted by wierdo at 3:59 PM on December 18, 2010

Wikimapia always struck me as a bit suspect. The license they use (nc-by-sa) isn't compatible with any of the other "open" projects, which is a huge limitation on its usefulness right out of the gate, and there's a chance that it might not be legal in the US at all if Google wanted to go after it for using the Gmaps satellite imagery.

Although they do in some ways have a nicer interface than OpenStreetMap, I'd recommend that people interested in open mapping spend their time improving OSM.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2010

And thanks to scruss for kicking me in the butt to spend my day working on OSM. There are much worse things I could do with my time.
posted by wierdo at 8:44 PM on December 19, 2010

I've been editing Open Street Map for a while. One very cool thing about editing is the little things you learn about your neighborhood by mapping it. I've lived in my current neighborhood for over 13 years, and it was only after editing OSM that I learned some of the shortcuts and little parks and other little pockets of interest. Though not every neighborhood has great coverage in OSM, I know that the coverage of my neighborhood is better than Google's coverage (/me pats self on back).
posted by robla at 10:58 PM on December 22, 2010

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