Can graphic tablet be used with OSM editor ?

As an alternative to the mouse, can a graphic tablet be used with the OSM editor ? I googled the OSM sites for the term but couldn’t find anything.

I don’t own one but used one and found it much easier than the mouse when tracing lines. If OSM can interface with a graphic tablet I might buy one.

Does anyone have any experience here ?


If I think how a tablet works is correct then it’s just like some extended mouse which then should work just fine with the editors (perhaps depending how much functionality you would like to see).

There was (is) a plugin for JOSM and tablet pcs called nearclick.

if you are doing live mapping in a car it might be better to have a “tablet PC”, but using one of those Wacom bords isn’t the best thing for JOSM. There are very few people using a pen for editing so you won’t get a very integrated experience, but if you want to be on the cutting edge you can always try.

Thanks for this input. I’ll see whether I can borrow a Wacom graphic tablet for a week or so and try it out and, if I can do so, will report back.

Right now I’m trying to get to grips with JOSM. Potlatch I grasped fairly quickly with the help of you people on this forum combined with trial and error, but JOSM is something else. When I download an area from the OSM database it doesn’t show all the roads or GPS tracks which are visible in the same area on the ordinary OSM map in Potlatch. I’m plodding through the JOSM instructions, FAQs etc to find out what I’m doing wrong.


There are two ways to work with JOSM, either from GPS tracks or to add stuff to existing data.
From GPS tracks**

  1. You load your GPS track
  2. choose download data (osm data, not GPX tracks)
  3. if area was to big zoom in try again (goto 2).
  4. choose download data, but this time GPX tracks to get the data that other people have uploaded.
  5. Edit data
  6. download data
  7. upload
  8. repeat 5 and 6 because you don’t want to come out of sync with the data on the mainsite.

Incidently, I recently used JOSM to edit offline for a week in a very remote region that only I and robots had previously touched. Of course someone made edits to the area a day after I made my copy in JOSM. There are no good tools to solve this, so it really was a pain.

Already available GPS tracks are displayed much better Potlatch, this is a limitation in the software that you can not correct. Well if JOSM would download the Flash version of the GPX tracks then it could, but I don’t see that happening. (I might be wrong! The main api v0.3 didn’t support sorting trackpoints by date, this might have changed)

Updating the map**

  1. Use and zoom to the place you want to edit
  2. click view
  3. copy URL in the browsers location bar
  4. choose download in JOSM
  5. paste URL in the URL field.
  6. make a bookmark
  7. download
  8. edit
  9. upload

It’s worth pointing out that the following:

Won’t necessarily download everything you can see on your screen. It seems to select an area of approximately 270x220 pixels from the middle of the screen.

However, decreasing the ‘zoom’ variable in the URL by two give me in JOSM exactly what I see on screen on the OSM browser (at a screen resolution of 1280/1024).

For example:
on OSM imported into JOSM with the URL
works for me.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

The other option is, of course, to zoom out on OSM before copying the URL.

It would be nice if OSM somehow gave you a URL based on what can be seen on your screen, but I guess that that requires some whizzy javascripty type thing and that’s an area well out of my expertise.


PS - As an aside, the link ‘Permalink’ at the bottom right of the OSM screen can just be copied rather than clicking on ‘View’ and then copying out of the address bar.

Good catch, of course that’s how it works. I’ve been using Merkaartor which have a built in map navigator in the download dialog. So it’s my mistake. :slight_smile:

And you can also copy the link on the View tab, which is updated each time you Zoom. Btw OT… I think the permalink+edit link is something that should always be available when you display an Openstreetmap.

I use a Wacom tablet and it works fine for OSM work.
(Input devices are handled by the operating system. Once set up properly, the tablet will work in ALL your software)

How do you use it and what could be better?

You use it like a normal mouse, it’s just more precise.

The OSM software does not know what you use to move the cursor. It could be a mouse, a tablet, a joystick, a touch screen, … So it would not make sense to try and improve tablet support at the OSM level. (Not that there’s much to improve in the first place.)

A graphic tablet makes writing on a screen much easier. A good example might be handwriting. Try handwriting on a screen with a mouse and then with a graphic tablet. You’ll find that the latter is intuitive and fluid, just like writing with a pen on paper, and the former is like trying to sign your name with a pen attached to the arm of a power shovel.