Beginners Guide 1.3
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Here is how OSM data editing works.
Understanding OSM Data
Let's talk about the structure of the OSM data. The data is made of elements.
All these elements can carry tags.
An element can have tags. A tag is a
Some editors, including JOSM and ID, have "presets". The user clicks a button and fills a form, and the editor applies the proper tags to the element automatically. This can be far easier for beginners than working with raw tags, but it doesn't cover all existing tags. Please note that as beginner, you don't have to dig too deep into precise tagging schemes thanks to presets, but knowing a bit about tags is very helpful. Feel free to skim through the rest of this section if you're in a hurry.
Most tag keys and values have their own dedicated page on this Wiki that explains how to use them. Search for what you're trying to map using the search bar and you may find the appropriate tag. If you fail to find it, feel free to ask others for help. Some tags can be used for nodes, ways, and relations. Others can only be used on nodes or ways. A tag's page usually explains this. Also, please note that some countries have local tagging conventions. Consult your country's Wiki page.
Tagging rules and conventions change with time. These conventions are decided by the community through common usage, voting, and discussion at talk:tagging. Here is a list of important tag keys that you should be aware of. Most editors have helpful presets that will help you get started easily, without knowing tags in depth. But knowing the basics certainly helps.
Note that many keys, like
Important tag keys
Learn the basics of an editor
Adding, removing, and editing OSM elements requires an editor. There are many editors. You should start with one of the three major editors. Before continuing this guide, please choose an editor, and at least learn the usage basics. Information about each editor can be found by clicking on it. The iD editor and Potlatch 2 have built-in usage guides. JOSM has a beginner guide here.
iD is the easy to use editor found per default on the "Edit" button of the OpenStreetMap homepage, and is ideal for quick editing contributions. It runs in your browser and downloads data automatically as you look around.
JOSM is a highly expandable standalone Java desktop application which allows editing more data at once, using more advanced tools and direct access to data at cost of increased complexity.
Potlatch is the precursor to iD, now available as a desktop application for Mac and Windows.
Vespucci is the fully-featured Android editor with the most significant use.
StreetComplete is an Android app that allows to easily add information. Low barrier to entry, no OpenStreetMap knowledge or experience is needed (beyond creating an account). Is not intended as a general purpose editor, only adding of predefined data to an existing objects and answering notes is available.
Now that you know the basics of how to use an editor, it's time to learn some mapping and data collection techniques.