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The hacker's guide to OpenStreetmap

OpenStreetmap (OSM) is a free web map based on freely-licenced map data provided by a large community of contributors. The map data consists of a huge geospatial database with global coverage, and its licence allows custom map generation, enhancement and other hacks by all comers. However, its usefulness is reduced by the fact that its documentation is a patchy, poorly interlinked set of wiki pages distributed across multiple sites. Use of the data requires a complex set of tools, and comprehensive accounts of how they work together are thin on the ground and hard to find with search engines.

This set of pages tries to provide better documentation than official sources (not a high bar) and link to external pages that are helpful and up to date. I will start out by describing the toolchain used for displaying a map in a web browser as used on openstreetmap.org and then proceed to successively more customised setups.

The OpenStreetmap web map

Options and URL format of the OpenStreetmap web app

The canonical map server toolchain

The way from the geospatial database to browser-viewable map images

Contributing to OpenStreetmap

Basic and advanced tips for doing your bit for the community project

Offline viewing (1) - pre-rendering and viewing standard tiles

Render map tiles for offline viewing using the canonical toolchain

Offline viewing (2) - rendering and viewing whole maps

Render and view complete map regions

Custom map style (1) - tweaking the standard OpenStreetmap style

Understanding and modifying the old standard style in Mapnik XML format

Custom map style (2) - advanced modifications

Changing the projection, adding hill shading and contours, adding supplementary data and more

Custom mapping (3) - rethinking the whole shebang

Standard tools are centred on web maps, but custom formats and processing is feasible

Geoinformation data sources, file formats and tools

Where to obtain geographical data, its file formats, and tools to process them

Custom scripts overview

Overview of scripts and small programs from all parts of this guide

Online manuals

Manuals of OpenStreetmap-related tools online, or links to documentation elsewhere.

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License

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