Map builder by Microsoft is aimed at making it easy for users to improve Bing Maps. Map builder lowers the hurdle for first-time contributors by handling account sign-in and communications (including changeset comments), and providing a simplified set of editing tools. Map builder’s editing capabilities are based on iD. In countries where Bing Maps use OSM data users of Bing Maps see an 'Edit Maps' button which leads them to Map builder. This editor has built-in support for sending and receiving messages and changeset comments from/to OSM community members.
Who is Map builder for?
Map builder was conceived as a way to improve map data by empowering millions of everyday Bing Maps users around the world, who would ordinarily never partake in mapmaking efforts, to easily contribute improvements. Users can elect to proactively contribute changes or do so when they encounter errors while using Bing Maps. Map builder provides a simplified set of tools to make it easier for users to make their first contributions. Most Map builder users may only contribute a handful of changes. Those looking for a more complete map editing experience may elect to contribute to OSM via more advanced tools. While users will experience Map builder as part of Bing Maps, they should understand that map edits contribute to OSM (by consenting to OSM contributor terms on first submission).
Getting started with Map builder
Map builder is accessible through Bing Maps by zooming in on the map until a “Edit Map” button appears in the lower corner. Users can also launch Map builder directly by visiting https://www.bing.com/mapbuilder/. First time users have the option of trying different editing scenarios, such as tracking buildings, roads, or waterbodies. Information on using Map builder is available from the Help button on the toolbar.
Map builder Editing
Users must be signed in using their Microsoft Account (MSA) credentials to submit changes. Upon a user’s first edit, Map builder automatically links the user’s MSA with a newly created OSM account so that user changesets can be identified and commented on. Microsoft also reviews edits to ensure that quality meets community standards. Map builder users assume the same expectations and obligations that OSM users have regarding editorial content and conduct. Changes are validated before or after being merged into OSM. The Map builder editorial team fixes minor issues or drops irreparable changes before merge. After merge, they or other OSM community members can find and fix issues. Changes are eventually propagated back to Bing Maps during a future refresh cycle. For data layers that come from OSM, edits are merged back into OSM. Map builder is an editor of Bing Maps. Bing Maps uses data from different data providers. At the moment Map builder doesn't enable editing something else than OSM linked data. But in future Map builder might have such functions.
Originally, all edits by all users were uploaded to OSM using a single account, until [ https://www.openstreetmap.org/user_blocks/5701 this account got blocked by the DWG] on February 17, 2022. Map builder initiated discussion to learn what are acceptable terms for Map builder to continue operation. The Data Working Group (DWG), after a request by the board, prepared a list of requirements: messages on changesets created by the individual, being aware of contributing to OSM, consenting to OSM license terms, being able to be moderated/blocked, being able to delete all contributions by a particular user.
During SOTM 2022, a new version of Bing Map builder was presented to the OSM community. This version fulfilled these requirements and created a pseudonymous OSM-account for every contributor, managed by Microsoft.
In January, DWG blocked seven Map builder accounts under assumption of automated edits (due to robotic usernames). Also in January 2023, Map builder team met with OSMF and DWG representatives, who asked for clarification of the accounts through dedicated wiki page and proper user description.
On February 2, Map builder paused creating new anonymized accounts to prevent further damage of relationship with DWG. There were no changes for existing users.
On 6 February 2023, Pieter Vander Vennet wrote in his diary about problems with Map builder.
Since February 13, edits from new Map builder users have been uploaded via a Microsoft employees' OSM accounts. Map builder users with existing accounts have always been able to submit changes to OSM directly (under the same circumstances which include a quality gate). These changes were reflected in a follow-up diary entry and a comment of this changeset.
On February 23, the board discussed some concerns related to Map builder and asked DWG and LWG analyzed these concerns. On March 23, after discussions with LWG Map builder team landed on a few use cases to improve Map builder to fulfill LWG requirements, including explicitly accepting the Contributor Terms, displaying OSM attribution when OSM data is rendered on the map, removing the opt-out option for communication with Map builder users. All these requirements were fulfilled on April 24.
In April, Map builder team suggested Single Sign-On for OSM. The board asked Microsoft to start a discussion on GitHub.