Next Editor

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OpenStreetMap needs some improvements in its editing interface. Potlatch is a great full-powered online editor and JOSM is an astounding desktop editor, but to the uninitiated, they can both the intimidating. We need to start thinking of new users - people who start by seeing a map that they don't exactly care about, see an issue, and want to fix it or report it. These users probably won't be hitting as their first view - they'll be coming from elsewhere, and not necessarily care about the project.

In short, not classic OpenStreetMap users, but still people who want to make an impact on the map and have important local knowledge to contribute.

Technical details

The most fundamental of decisions should probably be clear: this should be a web application, rather than a desktop application. Though the latter provides some advantages, it's inappropriate to expect casual users to download anything.

More in-depth, it becomes more complex: should this be in Flash, or Javascript? Flash has far more prior art and is easier to optimize with vector rendering, while Javascript is likely to attract more contributors and make more reuse of existing code for APIs, interaction, and such.

Mobile Devices

It's probably useful to get this compatible with mobile devices: a sample workflow might be

  1. User is using a mobile app that uses OSM maps
  2. They can click on a namespaced link that brings them to the editor / reporter app
  3. They submit an edit or report

There are big questions here:

Should this be the same codebase as an online editor? There are solutions like PhoneGap / Titanium that make this possible, but it might not be technically useful, if the web and online editors are wildly different in UI.

Should this be a full editor, or extremely minimal? This might be able to fly with just a bare subset of functionality - editing 'the current road' or reporting an issue.


If this is a Javascript project, it will require a JSON-friendly API for OSM. See Improving OpenStreetMap for one thread on this. There are several efforts in the making, and there has even been one effort to build this: Cartagen

Reporting Functionality

Also a big feature of a potential editor is reporting issues. Something like OpenStreetBugs, but hopefully with more developer time behind it to bring it to reality, and an awesome backend for whipping through fixes.


  • Drop a pin w/ some data
  • Optionally have an account - this might prioritize your ticket higher
  • Have a backend that basically turns this into a tasking environment for motivated editors

Ongoing efforts

Three questions?

I think we're talking about potentially three separate concepts here:

  1. Extremely simple editor on - at the very least, reporting issues (OSB-style), editing attributes of existing objects, and creating POIs
  2. Further UI refinements to P2, making it simpler to grasp while retaining the essence of "an immediate editor that lets you do everything without getting in your way"
  3. A mobile app - ideally cross-platform (iOS/Android), ideally simply branded "OpenStreetMap", and combining viewer with editor

(Obviously there needs to be some UI commonality - so that you don't learn a skill in one, and then "move up" to the next and find it does the opposite of what you expect.)

My gut feeling is

  1. is JS integrated into;
  2. is P2 as at present, though eventually targetting a JS rather than Flash Player runtime as Jangaroo/Falcon-JS come to fruition;
  3. ...well, who knows; personally I'd be tempted to build it with AS3 on top of Halcyon and package with AIR

--Richard 21:34, 2 March 2012 (UTC)