Editor wish list.

I’m just starting to learn to edit on OSM, but I’m not new to map editing.

A large part of my experience is using MapMaker Pro. Some of it’s features could be useful here:

  1. MMP made extensive use of layers. In my use of it, I created a high scale map using orthorectified geotiffs. (1 meter per pixel) This was too large to handel in reasonable time showing the entire region (12 x 18 km) on an 8 MB computer. So from the original set of geotiffs, I constructed 2m/pixel, 4m/pix, 8 m/pix, and 16m/pix versions. I added a layer for each of these.

  2. MMP has the ability to turn layers on or off depending on the current rendering scale. By picking suitable scales for turning off each of the imagery layers I was able to to have a useable backdrop at all scale levels. OSM does this too. Tertiary roads don’t show up until you zoom in to a certain level of detail.

  3. MMP has the ability to lock layers. This is a huge help editing. I organized my mapping into layers:


  • Point items (springs, wells)
  • Linear items (creeks, streams)
  • Area items (Lakes, rivers that show width)


  • Point items (oil wells, pumping stations, power pylons, pipe access points)
  • Linear items (pipeline right of way, power lines)

Human artifacts

  • Buildings
  • Other point items
  • Primary & Secondary roads.
  • Tertiary roads
  • Trails & unmaintained tracks.
  • Control points for checking mapping.

Vegetation overprint.

I tried producing contours from the available digital elevation models, but there were none of sufficient accuracy available for our region. To make a useful contour map would have required 2 meter elevation data. (Gently rolling terrain)

Each layer had to checkboxes: Hide, and Lock. Hide made the layer not visible. Lock left it visible, but nothing on that layer could be selected. This latter feature was very handy. I could lock all the area layers and the trails layers when I was putting in creek routes. Or I could lock all but the trail routes when editing trails. This prevented a lot of inadvertent moves.

When working at a larger scale (more earth in view) turning off layers made for much faster updates.

I guess you don’t know JOSM yet?

I also think you are confusing OSM editors with general GIS software. Try QGIS.

The OSM data model DOES NOT HAVE LAYERS: therefore a layer oriented editor is not going to work.

Hydrology, landuse, highways, buildings etc are all inter-related within OSM. As @GerdP says you can use JOSM and edit in layers (and you can use purge to remove features within the edited layer), but you will always have to edit things in relation to everything else. For instance if you choose waterway features and purge other features in an area, you may inadvertently edit things like political boundaries which share data with waterways. This may be fine, but it might not be fine as although the water course might have changed, the boundaries might not. In addition handling conflicts between different versions of the same object is non-trivial.