Newbie questions

A friend just recommended Open Street Maps to me for a little neighborhood project I am working on. I have a few newbie questions I’d like help with.

  1. What is the purpose of OSM? Is it appropriate for my little “project”?

Because of the corona virus, everyone is more or less house bound, so we are all looking for activities, especially for children. One neighbor suggested a “bear hunt”. Neighbors would put stuffed animals, mostly teddy bears, in their windows. Then parents would take their kids around looking to see how many they could find. I offered to make a map of the neighborhood with a little “bear” next to each house that said they would put a bear in the window.

Is this something I could use OSM for? I would need to be able to either place the bears using OSM or download a hi-res graphic and they place them myself using a graphics program.

If this is doable, I would appreciate a few pointers for where to get started.

  1. The signup terms seemed to indicate that everything I do on OSM becomes public. Is they true? If so, it’s probably a showstopper. Any maps I create would need to be private. My neighbors would not be OK with it being publicly available.

Thanks for any help.

OSM is principally a geographical database, a map of the world on a free licence.

In itself OSM is not a map platform (like, for instance Google Maps with its API). Anybody can use OSM data and make a platform on their own - so render map backround based on OSM data, allow users to plot some content over it, search for addresses etc.
For example: Mapbox processes map data from OSM and allows users to style it, it also bundles its own satellite imagery, and has some libraries for maps, routing, geocoding and so on.
Or Pokemon GO uses OSM data as in-game map and to inform the game of what “habitat” is where - however other data is Niantic’s own (like Pokemon spawns, Pokestops).

What you need it a map to put markers on it. I think uMap ( can do what you want, even if it’s quite complex.

I went through the Editor Tutorial and was able to get to my neighborhood. But there are literally hundreds of points already placed there. Is there a was for me to:

  1. Can I get a clean map of my neighborhood without any points?
  2. Can I download a high-resolution digital copy as a JPG or PNG?
  3. I was able to download something, but it is an OSM file, which I can’t open. Is there a way to convert it to JPG or PNG?
  4. I found a website, MyGeodata.Cloud, that said it would convert OSM files to JPG, but it said mine was too large. Do they really work?
  5. Can I add custom points that I design? These would be like little teddy bears.

I’ll go check out uMap


The hundreds of points (and lines) you see in an OpenStreetMap editor are the geographical data.

Wouldn’t it be the easiest way for you to make a screenprint of the map of your neighborhood on and save it as a JPG or PNG? Because I don’t think uMap will let you put teddybear markers. Unless they support custom images.

When you create a map with umap, you can place as many markers as you want. You can assign custom markers, you can create popups which refers to images on other servers.

Ah yes, but you can customise the markers only to a limit. It might be enough for the bear map. At least it’s much more flexible than an image on which you paste the markers.

You can pick them from a pre-defined list or use a custom one via a URL. In case you are using e.g. Overpass to retrieve data, you can even use the value of a field as a variable in a URL to obtain another marker.

Set up simple web page showing OSM mao using Leaflet (tehre are numerous examples on Lealet web site)

Create GPX or KML file containing waypoints for bear locations. You can do that even using Google Earth if you are not familiar with better tools…

Use Leaflet to load and show GPX waypoints on top of themap.