Don't tag for the renderer

Posted by martinum4 on 11 February 2017 in English (English)

Hey everyone, after visiting some countrys i've noticed that a lot of people misuse tags to make it look better rendered. The most common one i've encountered was the misuse of the name tag (in general), but in particular railway-related. Writing the name of the lines served at a specific station in there makes it a lot harder to change lines, also that's not really what that tag is intended for.

I would love it if more people would use OSM as an example and start using relations for lines, IMHO it's a lot easier, but maybe someone needs to copy the OSM Transport layer for that to happen, as we know that the mapping features are only used if they are rendered somewhere...

On a related note, start using railway=halt more, here in Germany every railway=station that doesn't have a switch is considered an halt, in OGF one should check placed stations if railway=halt wouldn't be a better fitting alternative.

Comment from Luciano on 11 February 2017 at 04:37

I think there is a problem with just asking people to follow the OSM standard.

The majority of OGF users don't even know what OSM is. I would guess that even among those users who know what OSM is, most of them are not interested in OSM, or its standards, unless it can help them make a more interesting fictional map.

I, myself, have very little interest in OSM. As someone who has worked professionally in database design, the technical aspects and challenges of GIS (geographic information systems) have a bit of abstract interest, but I am happy to leave the actual work of OSM to people who are either more qualified geographically or more qualified technically than I am. Having said that, there are some remarkably poor design decisions behind some of the "OSM standards", which may reflect the realities of the need for compromise in a collaborative, open source project, but which also can lead me to reject a "standard" if I feel like I can achieve my objectives more easily by doing things in a different way.

My objectives, of course, are making a cool-looking map. My interest in Geofiction, has compelled me to learn a great deal about OSM and OSM standards - because I want to create compelling and realistic map content using the OSM toolset.

Therefore, speaking mainly for myself, but for at least some of the community, too, I think you would have much better luck getting other users interested in OSM standards if you took the time to explain why they are useful, and how they can make for a more realistic or interesting map. Better yet, take the time to create some actual compelling, creative content yourself, and present an example of why using the OSM standards you're advocating make this compelling, creative content possible.

If it is the work of some particular user that caused your feelings of annoyance, another option would be to contact that user and offer to help them improve their map work. Of course, if you're going to get their cooperation, you'll have to present the reasons why they might want to accept your help in a positive and compelling way.

Several times, I have welcomed the technical help of other users who were more expert with OSM standards than I am, but I always try to remember that there is much I still don't know, and that there are things I could learn. Other people have great technical knowledge, but lack geographic or cartographic expertise. So this can lead to an exchange of talents.

Really all I mean to say is that I think you'll have better luck getting people to work toward the OSM standard if you offer something to the community in return, instead of just scolding other users.

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Comment from Myrcia on 11 February 2017 at 08:41

OSM has to have a strict and universal set of tagging rules because the data there can be exported and used by a third party, and because every part of it is a collaborative project. Even though I have mapped on OSM for years I do not follow every tagging convention in Myrcia.

For example I only use landuse=residential to denote urban areas because the reds and pinks of landuse=commercial and landuse=retail are messy and I've always thought it was difficult to define these areas in mixed neighbourhoods in the real world.

OGF isn't an exact clone of OSM, it just uses the OSM tools. As long as the standards people are using are realistic and create good results I don't see why we should force ourselves to use OSM standards across the board.

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Comment from histor on 11 February 2017 at 09:35

In OSM I draw a lot at the place, I live.

Not all of OSM-tags give a good map as result. To say only "residential" is poor, because you can not make a difference between dense building in the heart of a city and small houses with a garden around. And as Myrcia says - you have no tag for mixed areas. "Residential", "commercial" and "industrial" is in the same way primitive as in the SIM-City play.

But for many cartographic items you miss in OSM - therefore you have as a gift a tag for shops, who sell food free of lactose.

Oh yes - in Germany halt has no weak. And? Important for a map is, where stops a train. May it be a stop or a halt.

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Comment from Kai on 11 February 2017 at 12:15

Hey...I think I should start adding railroads to my city XD

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Comment from trabantemnaksiezyc on 11 February 2017 at 12:17

OSM needs to be used as an actual data source, so they need standards. But OGF is just a platform for having fun and messing around with maps. It gives us more satisfaction if we map something that looks good than if we map something that is compilant to standards ;) .

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Comment from joschi81 on 13 February 2017 at 12:12

A laaaaaaarge vote in favour of what martinum4 said: Don't tag for the renderer, but for consistency of the OGF database! Please never "mess around" in the OGF map. Of course, yes, OGF basically is for having fun with mapping or "making up" imaginary places.

But it uses the OSM software, which is a well-developed GIS tool, and therefore opens up a lot more possibilities than just the graphical depiction of geographical data. If you want to draw maps only for the graphical idea, maybe returning to pencil and paper - or to any "normal" vector-based graphic software instead? Sorry for being rude, but I think OGF is not a place for people who don't like the GIS idea of OSM. (This is my personal meaning.)

Please, at all who didn't do this so far: Get into the idea of GIS data, try to understand what it makes so "wonderful". And please do not "destroy" the possibility of GIS analysis in OGF by misusing the OSM tags (at least not in an extensive way). I want to work with the OGF database for interesting GIS analysis tasks - once there's enough data for the respective topic. I know that there are other people who would like to do this. So I insist again, please try to keep the OGF database as consistent as possible! Thank you.

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Comment from Legendardisch on 13 February 2017 at 14:48

What use has GIS data for something fictional, Joschi81? Instead of being rude, because, yes you are, give us reasons why we should, as it stands now, we map on OGF for the eye, to build fictional places and all.

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Comment from wangi on 13 February 2017 at 17:12

Nothing there was rude. Anyway, using the OSM defined tags allows OGF to use various bits of software developed for OSM. Sure, primarily that's the map but it's also the likes of the presets in JOSM. It's visual changeset viewers, it's the funky 3D stuff on the other post. It's stylesheets for use in other map engines. It's routing code. Could even be using transport and railway maps.

Loads of stuff. Use the OSM tags and you get access to a ton of open source software environment. Use them mostly, and it mostly works. Diverge and do something different, well then less work as intended.

There is normally a load of discussion and consensus building on OSM before tag standards are agreed to. They pretty much make a lot of sense. In many cases, it's the stylesheet which could be tweaked to work better in OGF (a la Histor style).

I don't agree with all of martinum's concerns, but definitely the general point.

(and i do cringe every time i see an aeroplane drawn out on airport apron; the lines of a football pitch - can just imagine the feedback on those in the OSM world!)

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Comment from Legendardisch on 13 February 2017 at 19:45

But OSM is the REAL world and the map is used in REAL applications for REAL uses. OGf only USES OSM Technology, OGF is set in fiction, OGF is not used in REAL applications used for REAL uses, other than a big ART PROJECT. We need to draw the consensus between ARTISTIC/VISUAL and USEABILITY/APPROACHABILITY. And stop comparing OGF with OSM because the two have nothing in common except the technology used.Some of us already map for OSM, no need to duplicate it's entire ruleset to ensure a theoretic practical use that has no use.

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Comment from wangi on 13 February 2017 at 21:57

Personally I think the service in the station name is fine, and station vs halt isn't even clear on OSM.

Legendardish, can you help me understand your view - can you describe a few things you map contrary to the standard OSM tags, and why?

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Comment from Luciano on 13 February 2017 at 22:33

I took my rant to my bliki, q.v.

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Comment from deltanz on 14 February 2017 at 06:38

A laaaaaaarge vote against of what martinum4 said. I know I'm late to the discussion, but as far as I see, no one will ever use the fictional map I've created in OGF to guide him or herself somewhere. OGF and OSM have different USES. So let's chill and try to make interesting detailed and realistic maps the way each user is more comfortable with. That's why I haven't done much in OSM. I don't have a lot of time to spend online and the day I'll be required to learn all the set of rules and how to work with GIS will certainly be the day I'll leave OFG. It's been a great hobby to me so far, I don't intend to make it my career.

Btw, I love football lines and airplanes on aprons.

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Comment from deltanz on 14 February 2017 at 06:49

and @joschi81 have you ever considered that OFG is not the best place for you to do your interesting GIS analysis tasks?

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Comment from wangi on 14 February 2017 at 11:11

Luciano, I think your use of relations is an evolution of the standard use in OSM (it's a proposal there too) and makes sense for here.

I guess my point is if there's a way to tag something in OSM then it makes sense to do it the same way in OGF. So, to a specific example - if you are tagging a high-speed railway then follow the advice at and It leaves open the future possibility of using OpenRailwayMap, but more importantly saves OGF the burden of documenting another, incompatible, way of tagging the same type of infrastructure.

Changes over on OSM directly impact users here; using the software we are subject to the knock-on of those changes. Like it or not. Remember the changes to motorway rendering, the changes to country boundaries...

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Comment from martinum4 on 14 February 2017 at 18:53

Wow, seems like i poked kinda in a hornets nest there, that wasn't really my intention... I try to tag for OGF just the way i'd tag for OSM, so i'm not trying to built a map, but rather a geodatabase.

With a few exceptions (e.g. using name:transcript and name:local for the regional spoken languages because i got neither name nor some short code for them) i try to keep everything i map as OSM-ish as possible I also see OGF as a good testing field for my OSM tools and workflow, for example how to use the Overpass API efficient, Routing, Leaflet soon an OpenRailwayMap-type Tileserver for OGF (I really love Railways)...

Also there are some nice renderers for OSM-Data, for example the german OSM-Style renders leisure=pitch with the markings if sport=* [also displays the surface of the pitch] and it automatically shortens names if they don't fit (eg. "Stra├če" to "Str.") and various other nice things like planned roads.

I personally got nothing against using relations to "store" stuff that belongs together, but rather use operator=, ref= or ref:= and find the stuff using overpass, that way one only has to assign the ref once instead of constantly having to adjust the relation and add new members, it is also really useful for planned international projects.

If you have any more questions any kind either comment here or send me a PM.

Kind Regards


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Comment from joschi81 on 15 February 2017 at 22:21

To be honest, for a moment some of the reactions to martinum4's diary entry made me want to leave OGF. As the "co-founder" of the project I have large territories in western Uletha and I think giving up (and cleaning up) those territories would enable are large number of new small countries for new mappers. I couludn't imagine there actually are users putting in to question the use of GIS analysis for an imaginary world!

But then I thought: What's the main point of this discussion? It is, clearly, an outline of two very different approaches to OGF: A creative/graphical approach on the one hand and a technical approach on the other hand.

So, the main question is: Can OGF satisfy both types of mappers (and also those who seem to follow both approaches)? The answer is: Yes! (In my opinion.)

To have a nice and consistent rendering in the OGF main layer (Mapnik) users must use the most common OSM tags anyway. So if we're talking about "mapping for renderers" here, we're not talking about basic tags that are being misused, but about details. Maybe these details concern specific ideas that users have for their own analytical work (or simply for getting a "nicer rendering"). So "misuse" is even not the right vocabulary here if people step away from OSM standards in some points. As Luciano outlines in his bliki in a way that is completely understandable in my opinion, creating your own standards in some points can be very helpful. And on the other hand: It does not destroy the OGF database.

In any case: Doing GIS analysis in OGF will in most cases be restricted to the country "belonging" to the person who does the analysis task, as it is/will be for me.

My conclusion is (I repeat myself) that mappers with a more graphical approach and those with a more technical approach (and those who combine both) can live together in the OGF world in good harmony!

(But, @deltanz and @Legendardisch, please don't put into question the use of GIS analysis in a fictional world, as of course you can analyse any dataset, no matter if it is real or imaginary data. It starts with simple tasks like e.g. measuring the area of a city. Because OGF is built upon GIS software, you don't have to measure by hand and calculate, but you get a "one-click result". There are, of course, much more complex tasks...)

Happy mapping for you all!

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