History API and Database

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The entire history of OpenStreetMap spans several years now. Every day, a lot of new data is added, existing data modified, and stale or incorrect data removed. While the history of each object that ever existed in OSM lives on in the main database, there is no easy way to replicate the full history for an area. There is a full history planet dump that is made available at irregular intervals, but none of the existing OpenStreetMap data processing tools are suitable to process this file. Also, there is no suitable database schema for a full history OSM database.


The general purpose of a full history database and API is to make it easy to answer questions of the type 'What did OpenStreetMap look like in area X on date Y'. This is useful in many ways:

  • Visualizations: historical maps, animations
  • Visualizations of Changesets : Objects before they are modified or deleted
  • Visualization of objects deleted in the last x days
  • Monitoring mapping in a local zone
  • Monitoring modifications of specific tags
  • Monitoring new users
  • Tracing vandalism
  • Insight into user and social dynamics
  • Quality analysis
  • Undelete changesets
  • Undelete objects
  • ...Add yours...

Questions for a History API

This is a never-complete list of possible questions one might have for a history API:

  • Give me the data for bounding box X on date Y.
  • Give me the data inside a Boundary relation.
  • How many features of type X existed in OSM on date Y?
  • Between which dates was user X adding features of type Y?
  • Give me the list of users with less then 10 changesets created.


There are several data-sources that contain history information:


  • To design a database schema for a full history OSM database
  • To develop tools for generating and processing historical OSM data:
    • Generating full history dumps for arbitrary regions
    • Importing full history dumps into a full history database
    • Applying existing diffs to an existing full history database
  • To design a full history OpenStreetMap API
    • Retrieve full history for a bounding box
    • Retrieve full history for a boundary relation
    • Retrieve feature X on date Y
    • When was feature X deleted / created?
    • How long has feature X existed?
    • Which users were active in area X between dates Y and Z?
    • ...Your History API request could be here...

Relevant projects and pages


Who's involved with this topic?