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Die OSM-Nachtlebenkarte

21.09.2015 | Frederik Ramm

Im Juli hat eine Studentin der Hochschule Karlsruhe, Lisa Stolz, bei der Geofabrik ihre Bachelor-Arbeit abgeschlossen. Lisa studierte Kartographie und Geomatik, und da bot sich ein gestalterisches Thema an – die “Nachtlebenkarte”.


Es gab ja schon einige Karten in dunklerem Stil oder den Versuch einer “Lichtkarte”, aber was Lisa versuchen wollte, war, diejenigen Orte, bei denen man anhand von OSM-Daten auf das Vorhandensein eines gewissen Nachtlebens schließen konnte, durch hellere und buntere Farben auch auf der Karte lebendig werden zu lassen. Dabei wurde z.B. auch von der “Kneipendichte” auf die Belebtheit einer Straße geschlossen, was sich dann in einem helleren Farbton äußerte.

Die Bachelor-Arbeit steht als PDF-Datei zur Verfügung, und der Stil kann auf GitHub unter einer freien Lizenz heruntergeladen oder abgeändert werden. Für eine begrenzte Zeit steht auch eine weltweite Demo-Ansicht zur Verfügung.

A new, world-wide water and waterway debug layer is live at the OSM Inspector web site. We’ve done away with the old VMAP0 river reference, and extended coverage from Europe-only to the whole planet.


There’s tons of new features – for example, OSMI will detect when a river changes its name, or starts out of nowhere (or ends in something that is not another body of water).


Rivers without names are highlighted, as are directional problems where two parts of a river flow towards, or away from, the same point.


The software backing these new layers has been written in C++ (using Jochen Topf’s excellent Osmium library) by Geofabrik intern Nathanael Lang. It is Free Software, and can be run in a standalone fashion to convert an OSM .pbf file into a SQLite database if you’d like to run your own analyses. Fork it, or report issues, on GitHub!

OSM Inspector Address View now world-wide

11.04.2014 | Frederik Ramm

For over 5 years now, Geofabrik’s OSM Inspector is an important quality assurance tool for OpenStreetMap, used by thousands of mappers on a daily basis to check their local area or their own work.

Some of the Inspector’s layers, like for example the routing problem analysis or the broken multipolygon view, have already been available world-wide for a while; but others were restricted to Europe because of limited resources.

Today we announce the launch of a world-wide address layer, highlighting mistyped addresses, addresses without matching roads, bad interpolation ranges, and other common problems with addresses in OpenStreetMap. The new view is available from the standard view select drop-down in OSM Inspector, replacing the previous Europe-only layer.

This view was previously computed by a relatively slow process based on a PostGIS backend, and now uses a completely new standalone backend that is based on Jochen Topf’s new Osmium library, and available on GitHub.

This launch is made possible by a generous hardware sponsorship from Canadian telematics company Geotab Inc. – thank you!

We’d also like to thank Lukas Toggenburger, who developed the new OSMI address backend as part of a project thesis for his master studies at HTW Chur, in Switzerland, in a cooperation with HSR Rapperswil.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation is an English non-profit organisation created to support the OpenStreetMap project. It has about 500 individual members. The Foundation pays for the servers on which OSM is run, organises the yearly “State of the Map” conference, and last not least also has to deal with the legal aspects of running a world-wide, crowd-sourced mapping project. Foundation work is done by volunteers entirely (one of which is this author), but of course money is needed for hardware and hosting, accounting, legal fees, and various bits and pieces that help the volunteers do their jobs.

Since the Foundation’s last Annual General Meeting in September 2013, the Foundation is open to corporate members.

You can now be among the first who publicly show their support for the OpenStreetMap project by signing up as a corporate OSMF member. The membership fee is £1,000 per year (at current rates, that’s €1,200 and US$1,650). Your membership fees will help to keep OpenStreetMap’s servers running and ensure the continued success of the project.

Read more on the OSM Foundation blog.

Geofabrik, of course, has joined already, and we encourage our friends and clients to do likewise.

WMS Relaunch

13.01.2014 | Frederik Ramm

(Diesen Beitrag auf Deutsch lesen)

WMS servers are quite old-fashioned in many respects. The WMS specification was created in 2000, and the basics haven’t changed much – WMS essentially specifies what was then mostly a HTTP CGI request. The client says “give me this map, in this projection, for this extent, in this resolution”, and the server hands over a raster image. This is how web mapping was done before the age of tiles, or even vector data. Nonetheless, WMS is a key component in many professional GIS workflows to this day.

In fact, a long time ago when OpenStreetMap started, it did offer a WMS itself, but that was soon replaced by a tile-based map which is better suited for high-exposure situations.

At Geofabrik, we’re doing both – we have tile servers for public-facing, high-volume services, and we offer WMS for those who have different needs. We have been running our OpenStreetMap WMS for a while now (we’re selling the service starting at €35/month, see product web page). We have developed the Mapnik-based WMS server ourselves and it’s open source.

Setting up a WMS isn’t rocket science, but because the WMS needs to compute a new image for each request, you have to carefully adapt the map style and database queries to work fast enough. This is where we’ve spent quite some time optimising things, by creating suitable database indexes or computing simplified geometries for landuse areas or road networks. We’re now soft-launching our overhauled WMS, with new clients getting access to the new services and existing clients being upgraded one by one. Here’s a couple things that our WMS does:

True on-demand rendering – any projection

Every single image served by our WMS is rendered from fresh OSM data when you make the request. This means that the data you see is no older than a few minutes (apart from the simplified major roads and landuse areas used on large map scales). It also means that we will never do bitmap reprojection of pre-rendered data because the images is produced using the requested projection.

Germany in UTM32N - left, bitmap reprojection with tilted labels; right, Geofabrik WMS

If you are using other projections than the standard “Google Mercator” projection – say, UTM or Gauss-Krüger projections – then you will probably be familiar with maps where the labels are anything but straight. This happens when the WMS serves your image as a raster reprojection rather than a fresh vector rendering. It is faster but compromises image quality. We don’t do that.

High-resolution images for printing

We had offered a high-resolution “print” WMS for a while, but now we’re supporting user-set DPI so you can request a map in any resolution. Some desktop GIS systems, like Quantum GIS, will automatically re-request an image in a higher resolution if you make a printout, leading to excellent results.

Different resolutions served from the Geofabrik WMS.

Selectable layers

Because we render each image on demand, we can also switch individual layers from the OSM style on and off. This is something that we had to configure specifically for clients until now, but the new WMS uses the standard WMS layer selection methods to expose a couple of layers (like world boundaries, place names, the road network, landcover, buildings, POIs and so on). Your GIS client will let you decide which layers to request.

WMS layer selection - left, the Karlsruhe region without landuse; right, Düsseldorf without POIs

This feature is particularly useful for displaying a non-cluttered base map (e.g. without buildings and POIs). You can even use it to generate a transparent map of roads and place names for overlaying on aerial imagery.