Online services that extend the capabilities of OpenStreetMap


Article from Issue 218/2019

A variety of online services rely on the data collected by the OpenStreetMap project. This article introduces you to the most useful options.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) [1] is one of the largest and most popular community web projects. In contrast to a tool like Wikipedia, however, OSM users rarely see the project's website. Instead, geo-information systems such as route planners, navigation apps and devices, or outdoor trackers integrate OSM's data as part of their own presentation.

If you visit the OSM website directly, you can click on the Layers button on the right side to display alternative map forms, such as Cycle Map, Transport Map, or Humanitarian Map (Figure 1). In addition, you can display current information about the maps by checking the Map Notes checkbox. The contents are shown as soon as you mouse over or click on the little flag in the map. Many layers come with legends that you can enable by clicking on the button with the i to the right of the map.

Unlike commercial map services like Google Maps or Bing Maps, OSM lets you export your map data. Be sure to comply with copyright and license requirements [2]. Some forms of data are available using the Export button in the top left corner of the OSM main view. If you want to save the map image, click on the Share button in the sidebar (Figure 2). OSM supports several image formats, including PNG or JPG, but also artifact-free scalable vector graphics in SVG and PDF formats.


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