Potlatch 1/FAQs

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What is Potlatch?

Potlatch is the name for the OpenStreetMap website's built-in editor.

You can find it on the 'Edit' tab of the main website. It uses Adobe Flash, so you will need a Flash Player to use it.

My work hasn't been uploaded to the server. What's happening?

Your work may not show on the main map immediately, however it should after a few minutes (longer if much editing is going on - this is common on weekends), if not, try refreshing/clearing your cache.

However, if you've returned to Potlatch and found that your ways are no longer there, it might indeed be the case that they haven't been saved. This can occasionally happen when the OpenStreetMap server is under very heavy load and not able to register all the uploads.

You will generally be alerted when this happens by a flashing '!' symbol at the bottom left of the Potlatch window. If you see this, simply click it, then click 'Retry' to upload the ways again.

Other signs are when the 'saving data' message in the top right persists, and when the way 'id' (the number identifying each way, displayed at the bottom left under the word 'Way') stays negative. A way is negative when you first draw it in Potlatch, but receives a positive number when it is uploaded: so if this number stays negative, the way has not been uploaded.

I've got two ways with the same end point. How do I merge them?

Click one way to select it, then hold Ctrl while clicking the other.

I want to change the tags of a point at the end of the way. But whenever I click it, a new line appears for me to extend the way.

Click it, but then press Enter to stop drawing the way. You can then change the properties of the point.

I'm pressing a key but nothing's happening!

When you first open Potlatch in your browser, you'll need to click somewhere - anywhere - in the Potlatch area before you can press any keys. Also, while running you might click outside of the Potlatch area which would also stop keyboard input. (It would be a security bug if this could be "fixed"!)

How do I select a way which is hidden "underneath" another one?

This happens if the two ways share the same points - for example, a forest outline and a road along its edge. Just select one of the shared points, and press / (on foreign keyboards, use the ÷ on the number pad). (Do this again if you need to cycle through more than one.)

Displayed ways are too thick: they are obscuring the map at higher zoom levels.

Potlatch makes the ways thicker when you zoom in, to make them easier to click. You can turn this off in the options window (the 'tick' icon).

If this doesn't solve the problem, you might be using an obsolete version of the Adobe Flash Player, such as Flash 7. Upgrade to Flash 8 or 9 and the problem should go away.

FAQs for advanced users

What happens if I merge two ways which have different tags?

The tags from both ways will be brought into the new way. Where they have conflicting values (e.g. one is 'highway: primary' and the other 'highway: secondary'), the two will be combined with a semi-colon ('highway: primary;secondary'). You will see a little warning to tell you about this.

Can I use an open source Flash player?

Gnash might be the tool you are looking for. Thanks to great work by the Gnash developers, the latest version now supports Potlatch.

Can I use Flash on a 64-bit Linux machine?

Yes; Adobe has now (November 2008) released a 64-bit version of Flash Player for Linux.

How are Potlatch edits tagged?

Each changeset (an "edit-session") is tagged as 'created_by=Potlatch v???', with the appropriate version number. Details for a selected item can be accessed by pressing 'h' and clicking "More". Note that Potlatch does not show any 'created_by' and 'edited_by' tags to the user.

How do I create relations?

In Potlatch, relations are treated as a property of a way or node, just like a tag. The little 'chain-link' icon on the right adds a relation, just as the '+' adds a tag. Clicking this will let you add the currently selected way/node to a relation: this might be one in the local area (automatically loaded and available in a pop-up menu), one you search for (by name or ID), or a new one you create.

For specific details on creating a multipolygon see Step by Step guide.

Infrequently Asked Questions

What's a potlatch?

Potlatch was the journal of the Lettrist International, psychogeographical pioneers in 1950s France and the predecessors of the Situationist International. They took the name from a Native American custom of gift exchange.