Comparison of editors

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JOSM screenshot, showing photomapping features.
JOSM offers a large set of features and useful tools for a wide range of editing styles: It will either read in GPX tracks from your hard disk, or download them from OSM. Aerial imagery can easily be downloaded as a background for tracing. JOSM also supports photo mapping and audio mapping. Once you have completed your edits, you can upload them to OSM.
  • Fast fluid panning and zooming. Near-infinite zooming for super-precise mapping.
  • Can work offline using downloaded data files, and can work with local photo and GPX files
  • Advanced editing functionality e.g. make nodes of a roundabout into a circle.
  • Bing and other aerial imagery immediately available as backgrounds for tracing.
  • Highly configurable and extendible via plugins, Map Styles and Presets.
  • built in validator, which checks for common mapping errors before data upload
  • Active development
  • Offline editing is possible
  • The finer points of the interface take a while to learn.
  • You have to download the software to run it, unlike the following online options (although there is a "Java Web Start" option)
  • It requires Java 7+ to work (not a big problem for most people).


iD screenshot
Online editor.
  • It is currently the pre-set editor for's 'Edit' tab, and runs in your web browser.
  • It has a 'walkthrough' feature and has been designed to be an easy introduction for brand new OSM contributors
  • Development is active and ongoing, with a lot of attention paid to user experience.
  • Unlike Potlatch, this doesn't require a flash plugin. It's all JavaScript and should work in most modern web browsers.
  • It's not intended for power users (who are already excellently served by JOSM) or those who want the speed of a desktop client.
  • Consumes most processing power (compared with Potlatch 2 and JOSM), so if the CPU/browser is slow, lags are frequent
  • Zooming and panning prompts a map fetch (not as fluid)
  • The interface departs from normal OpenStreetMap terminology (no mention of "nodes" and "ways"), which can cause confusion, and editing accidents.
  • It is not possible to work offline
  • Does not support all browsers (I.E. in particular is not supported)

Potlatch 2

Potlatch 2 screenshot. Showing OSM data and background imagery
Flash online editor.
  • Available via the 'Edit' tab's drop-down arrow.
  • As the precursor to iD (above) Potlatch was also designed for beginners and is great for quick easy immediate editing.
  • Displaying of gps traces in a separate layer.
  • Advanced features include a Potlatch 2 merging tool
  • It is not actively developed, since iD was created as a replacement.
  • Requires a flash plugin in the browser (not a big problem for most people)
  • As with iD, it's not intended for power users
  • not as fast and fluid as a desktop client
  • does not work offline

Potlatch 1

Old version of the Potlatch editor offering quite a different editing experience, but it has similar pros and cons as the current Potlatch 2.
It is still available on but not linked in the edit tab (you need to edit the URL manually).
  • Has an undelete feature to restore objects (with the original ID and version history). Unique (via its special/own database API): can show all previously deleted ways on its map for easy undeleting (even if the object ID is previously unknown).
  • Reverting to previous object versions (but take great care that you know what you are doing …)
  • Requires a flash plugin in the browser
  • Many – compared to the other editors. Likely you will not want to use it except for the "pros" features in exceptional occasions.


Merkaator screenshot
Merkaartor is a small editor for OpenStreetMap available under the GNU General Public License and developed using the Qt toolkit.
  • Has some unique features like transparent display of map features like roads and true curved roads.
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Binaries for Windows, Mac OS X and some Linux platforms are available. Source for the rest.
  • Easy to set up satellite imagery from Bing or any other WMS source.
  • Tag styles can be customized
  • Save rendered maps as SVG or bitmap graphic
  • Merkaartor is under early development, which makes new and exciting features available only by grabbing the source.
  • Albeit under development (and it is not bad at all) it is very memory hungry and can freeze the machine while page-swapping (lots of disk activity)
  • Crashes on large data sets. Developer community is moribund.

Quantum GIS

  • Very comprehensive GIS program
  • Open source, free
  • Not focused on OpenStreetMap editing


ESRI has released a plugin for editing OSM data.
  • Industry standard GIS Program
  • Very comprehensive GIS capabilities
  • Proprietary
  • "ArcGIS for Home Use" will cost you 100$/year
  • Works only with ArcGIS 10
  • Editing relations are not supported



Vespucci is the first OpenStreetMap-Editor for Android and has been available and developed since 2009.
  • Mobility.
  • A full editor for OpenStreetMap that works both on small (phones) and large (tablet) screen android devices.
  • Create/edit Nodes, Ways, Tags, and Relations, with all the usual geometry related operations.


See also