How to improve OSM default layout?

I am new to OSM, but I really like the projekt and I will be involved. I already do mapping for Orienteering.

But in my point of view, the default OSM map (see ) looks awful. How can that be changed? Google Maps looks much better, but it should be possible to make OSM look even better than Google Maps.

Has this been discussed before? I did’t found anything about it.

  • In low zoom levels OSM render very little details, that looks awful. OSM should render more forrest. Example zoom level 6 Example zoom level 8

  • Some information should be more clear, like road numbers on big roads. Example zoom level 11

  • Some colors is really awful, in example the green color for forrest is to intense and look bad. Example zoom level 11

  • Similar objects doesn’t really look that similar on the map. In example the red dotted lines and the blue dotted lines in this example (zoom level 14). Similiar objects should have almost similar color (doesn’t have to be the same), maybe different pattern (like black dotted lines, and dark gray dashed lines instead of the red and blue dotted lines).

Maybe OSM should have a design competiotion among Design Students or something like that, and then pick the best map layout. We should be better than Google :wink:

Finally I find it is to many map features, we should maybe have fewer, then is it esier to do mapping.

The map is rendered by Mapnik, so you can make a stylesheet that looks better and propose it :wink: OSM is a project that advances because it’s members come up with new stuff, software, events etc.

Regarding the number of map features that we have in OSM, I strongly disagree that we should have fewer. This project might have street in it’s name, but it’s really about mapping everything around you which includes (but not only) streets.

From what I’ve read, the Mapnik layer tries to follow common (British?) cartography practices, where the color scheme is selected to convey information effectively, not to look pretty. Still a design competition sounds fun but is unlikely to produce a scheme worthy of replacing the default layer for that purpose - that doesn’t stop someone else from setting up a map service with those colors.

Perhaps making a better list of problems? I posted your list to the wiki.

It really is easy for you to make a difference, you just need to have the guts to try to make the changes yourself. Best forum to discuss this is the mailing list or

I use mapnik to render Polish Garmin maps for UMP-pcPL (OSM like project), and I based my styles on OSM definitions:
You can compare with OSM, by simply switching layers. I suggest zooming in near Warsaw (Warszawa), as it has comparable amount of data in both projects.

I made many modifications, to make map look better:

     6 db_settings.xml
     8 layers_static_places.xml
    33 layers_static.xml
   364 layers_ump_gis.xml
   125 styles_admin.xml
  1168 styles_bridges.xml
   216 styles_cities_texts.xml
    20 styles_clifs.xml
    98 styles_directions.xml
   292 styles_generic_texts.xml
   486 styles_leisure.xml
  1482 styles_minor_roads.xml
   986 styles_paths.xml
  1543 styles_points.xml
    17 styles_power.xml
   360 styles_roads_texts.xml
   300 styles_roads.xml
    79 styles_static.xml
   123 styles_stations.xml
   193 styles_symbols.xml
   387 styles_tracks.xml
   341 styles_tunnels.xml
   199 styles_water.xml
  8826 total

If You find some ideas usefull, fell free to use them in OSM.

Yes, that sounds good, I will try to experiment with mapnik.

Yes, I agree to that. I’m just a bit confused sometimes when it’s not really clear what of the symbols to use, should maybe be more clear definitions of the symbols.

Yes I think most of the maps in the world is aiming for that. But OSM do it very bad. I think Google Maps and other countries has the same goal but they have other “common cartography practices”. I think OSM can perform better in this area. For me a map looks good when it’s not using disturbing colors or symbols, and in that way convey the information more efficient.

Ah, that looks much much better than OSM! Good job! I think we can improve it even more with changing some colors.

Speaking of all the mapnik styles &c. Is there a repository/… with mapnik templates or styles? I have managed to install mapnik at home on my Debian machine but apart from the (large) included style there are not so many examples to be found. The included tutorials seem to go from very simple (draw a shapefile) to the full map with rules for all scales with nothing inbetween…

“very bad” is the wrong language. It’s all a matter of taste. Personally I think the cartography on OSM is a million times better than the ooops-I-just-vomited-fifty-bright-colours design of Google Maps, but that’s just my personal opinion. Cartography is art, you’re never going to satisfy everyone.

mar_rud - where can I find the XML styles files for mapnik?
I mean… those pretty pretty styles of yours :slight_smile: