OSM Mobile Binary Format

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This page describes a historic artifact in the history of OpenStreetMap. It does not reflect the current situation, but instead documents the historical concepts, issues, or ideas.
OSM Mobile Binary Format was a draft for a standardised binary file format for OSM data on mobile devices. See also the discussion on the Dev mailing list back in August 2008.
Reason for being historic
The draft was never completed.
Captured time

This format is currently being developed and is in no way finished.


The purpose of this format is the local storage of OSM-data on mobile devices.


The scope are mobile routing, navigation and moving-map -style programs.

The scope are not editors

Requirements (current state)

Agreed on:

  • storage-space is limited
  • memory is even more limited
  • indexed access into the file without loading the complete file into memory
  • no floating-point


  • support saving a large map as a group of smaller maps each covering a well defined area (e.g. tile).
  • support updating areas to their newest version
  • the format is read-only. Only complete map-files are written.
  • Required Tags

Use Cases:

  • display the map with different information density
  • zoom the map
  • pan the map
  • find your position on the map based on GPS coordinates
  • find your position on a way based on a street-adress or POI-name
  • identify an object on the map based on a user click
  • find a route for a fixed vehicle-type from one way to another.
  • find and display an object based on its textual representation (street name, city name, POI name)

Existing formats (next state)

To be defined

Specification (future state)

To be defined



routable Ways

roads for program-specific vehicle types (cars, people, boats, ...)


geographic featues

lakes, oceans, woodland, ...


topologic features

city-boundary-polygons, countries, ...