OSM Map versus competitors / grabbing new users right now

Hi All,
I wrote first To « Memberships Working Group » and I was answered to get back to OSM Community to get my answer.
So before answering it, I would like to draw your attention on the point(s) below.
When an individual buys a house, we are in a 1/1 relationship: a buyer, a seller and an intermediary who then disappears.
When a company wants to set up in a port area / craft area / commercial area, it is either the owner, or the tenant, or a simple user. It depends on the subject and the legal terms that define the occupation of the place.
So the question remains the same in the question exposed below. If you want points set by ordinary users to survive over time, whatever happens in the interval between point setting and the nth visit years later, they can’t be pegged to ‘temporary information’ '.
Isn’t the only (?) good way to start by attaching this point to a GPS position. And then to include this point in the cartographic work afterwards?
Hi there,
Given how late OSM is when compared to the Big Bad Wolf (G Maps), it is perfectly understandable that your product is still behind in terms of the options offered to the end user (or webmaster).
On the other hand, what I do not understand and I would very much appreciate your explaining to me in commercially understandable terms, is why a user who enriches OSM has access to a detailed satellite view from which he can work constructively and productive while:

  • the average OSM visitor only has access to a sinple map view ?
  • the average visitor cannot obtain a GPS position of a “place” that is not previously defined upstream in your cartography ?
    Because until you offer the possibility to define any point on a map to an average user, you have NO chance of initiating the switch (necessarily slow !!) from Gmaps to OSM / Qwant and co….
    So the longer you take to offer the option, the more you are playing against yourself. When on an OSM map, we want to define a point and the system switches us to what it considers to be the closest known point, even if it is in the middle of a port basin or the ocean, admit that it doesn’t make you want to use it, does it ? !
    If at least one could get a GPS position with a hyperlink attached back, which can later, once your hard mapping work has been done, be attached to that position, you would start recording new clients right now. Until that is done, they are not likely to come.
    So if a contributor can attach information to a satellite view, which in any case can be modified later, by any other contributor… Why can’t an average user obtain a GPS position to attach to a point that remains to be defined ? Since by definition your points remain to be defined since any contributor can modify them later !!
    Thanks in advance.
    Looking forward to reading from you.
    Thanks in advance for your constructive feedbacks.

Hello and welcome to the forum!

I have to admit that I don’t get the point of neither the post nor the quote.


In other word, is it the right way of working to see your “bookmark” pointed on the ground to be in the middle of a port basin of in the middle of the ocean when you want to save it ?
If yes, thanks for your contribution.
If not, please explain what is not clear ?

I am trying to understand what you are trying to achieve. Are you looking for information on how to edit OSM data?


All of it? You clearly have a problem with something, but it’s not clear what that is. You clearly think that OpenStreetMap is something, but whatever that is OSM is surely more than that - it’s not just a website, or a map style, or a copyright message at the bottom of Bing Maps.

I’d suggest that you explain what problem you are trying to solve first, before getting into the detail of exactly what is wrong. Then explain how you had hoped that OSM might help with solving this problem, and why you don’t think it does.


I think they are asking why we are not like Google maps. For example the website doesn’t show aerial imagery (except in editing mode) and, unlike Google maps, the are no clickable POIs on the website (except in the editing mode).

The answer is because OpenStreetMap.org is not designed for end users. It is designed to help editors edit the map database. Others companies can then use the database to create a more direct competitor to Google maps if they like. One such example (Quant maps) has already been mentioned, although I don’t think this does as much as Google maps.

I got this helps. The reason why is much more complex and embedded in the history of OSM.


I don’t understand what you are looking at and what you are doing.

Me neither, but it sounds like they mean the Nominatim result which points to the closest street/place.

On openstreetmap.org, you can actually right click (or long press if you’re on mobile) any location on the map and select “Show address”. You’ll get the choice of either the precise location (lat/long coordinates) or the closest address (the Nominatim result). But yeah, it’s not intuitive, because that map isn’t designed for end users.


Hi @LSWKER and welcome!

Ummm, no, it is not right? But there are no “bookmarks” on openstreetmap.org website. Are you using some other website or app, and if so, which one?

If not, please explain what is not clear ?

It is not clear what website/app you are using, and what is exactly bothering you there?

Also, there might be a language barrier; it seems English is probably not your first language. This forum has automatic translate feature (see globe icon), so you can try explaining the problem in your native language, and we can probably understand it better.

Also please give us example - by providing exact steps that you do (Starting with which web page or app do you open, and everything that you click or type), including what you expect to happen, and what happens instead.

Then, we can explain and give you advice.


I think it is. It’s a general purpose map, there is search, routing, different variants and layers, all useful functions for ‘end users’.

It doesn’t try to offer everything that Google does: integrating all value-added applications for end users into one map application. Nor to be as specialized in one thing as TomTom, or node network planners, or trip advisors, or PT-planners.

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But those things are only there because they help mappers, and the criteria for including them was exactly that - it is explicitly stated that the goal of the web site is to support mapping and not to provide an end user Google Maps alternative.

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Yeah, if you give it to the average end user they’ll just be confused. “Query features”, “Results from Internal”…

“Directions from Here” also never actually puts the marker where you clicked (which I think is what the original poster was complaining about), because by default it’s set to car routing so it looks for the nearest road.


A necessary disclaimer.

And yet, despite actively trying not to be, osm.org is still the best Google Maps alternative based on OSM data and open source software…

Sadly, the “hope for someone else to build a GM competitor from OSM data” strategy hasn’t been all that successful in the past 1.5 decades. (Let’s be honest, Quant Maps just isn’t very good and no one outside France seems to have heard of it.) Whenever I talk to non-mappers who have looked for a GM alternative, what they have inevitably tried is to replace it with osm.org, and they either stick with it despite its obvious shortcomings for idealistic reasons, or bounce back to Google.


While that is true and could possibly be confirmed by digging through OSMF board minutes that are a decade plus old, Joanne Casual visitor to osm.org doesn’t have any kind of realistic chance of finding that out. There is literally not a single word lost on the subject on the whole website.

Since the first time I came in contact with OSM 14 years ago there has been this resistance to spelling out what the website is for, maybe it is a belief that by not doing so we are leaving the option open to pivot, maybe it is a misplaced feeling that doing so would be considered “unfriendly” and would drive away potential contributors, I just really don’t know.


Clearly they’re not memorable enough for people to spell their name right! It’s https://www.qwant.com/maps :slight_smile:

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There are plenty of potential improvements to osm.org that would benefit the general-purpose user and also benefit the principal purpose of supporting mappers. For example, vector tiles with clickable POIs, autocomplete geocoding, and so on.

But for them to happen, you have to write some actual code, not just impenetrable screeds about “When an individual buys a house” and “the Big Bad Wolf”.


Bonjour à Tous,

A l’intention de Richard :

1- La référence immobilière est à relier au fait que dans la vie économique, c’est comme dans la Vie Privée, il y a des rapports de force basés sur l’argent. Et comme les sommes en jeu sont colossales, ceux qui ont de l’argent se permettent des raccourcis que les autres ne peuvent s’offrir. Donc, quand un gros mangent des petits ou un moins gros que lui, les impacts n’en sont pas moins importants sur votre produit. Donc pour redevenir terre-à-terre et en lien direct avec ce que vous faites au quotidien, un GROS opérateur de dépôts conteneurs vient de prendre le contrôle d’une myriade de petits dépôts hier “indépendants” => de grosses modifications sont en cours sur votre produit sur la zone industrielle du Havre (FRLEH) et cela impacte lourdement le travail (et donc le mien) qui avait été fait précédemment. Donc voici une “autre limite” de votre produit, limite / conséquence qui pourrait être amoindrie en permettant à des utilisateurs de définir un point qui ne soit pas en prise directe avec un travail de cartographie ! Que ce travail soit fait en amont, ou en aval de la définition du point par l’utilisateur.

2- Oui en effet il faut coder. Non en effet je ne suis pas codeur. Et comme je ne suis pas codeur, je ne permettrai pas de remettre en question la manière dont vous travaillez / codez. Par contre, je pense que dans votre intérêt très personnel comme dans celui beaucoup plus large d’OSM, il serait souhaitable que vous sachiez entendre certaine chose, à défaut de les accepter.

A l’intention de Simon & Tobias (et de tous ceux impliqués dans OSM) :

1- Oui, en effet, je pense qu’afficher clairement les limites d’OSM rendrait service à plus d’un (utilisateur). Mais OUI je pense qu’effectivement cela vous fermerait “définitivement” des portes de développement pour la suite. Et donc avant d’en arriver là, je pense que vous devriez réellement lire le point 2.

2- Moi, et ce n’est que mon humble avis, je pense que vous êtes à un tournant du projet. Jusqu’à aujourd’hui, j’ai le sentiment qu’OSM testait la capacité du Marché à accueillir une alternative à GMaps. En tout cas en France, ce mouvement a pris racine. Les Administrations dans leur ensemble ont montré la Voie et même les médias français commencent, sous les remarques “acerbes” des utilisateurs, à produire des cartes NON Gmaps. Et Qwant reste le seul moteur de recherche en France “porteur” d’une image non estampillée “américaine”. Au contraire de DuckDuckGo (définitivement marié à Microsoft) ou de moteurs alternatifs porteurs de pensées écologiques mais techniquement limité dans les résultats qu’ils proposent. Donc, si j’ai bien compris tout ce que j’ai lu jusqu’à aujourd’hui, va falloir que vous tranchiez la question suivante : en l’absence de qui que ce soit capable de rivaliser avec GMaps, est-ce que vous endossez le dossard de Challenger officiel ou pas ?

Si vous ne l’endossez pas, je pense malheureusement que votre futur sera compliqué. Si vous l’endossez, je pense d’après ce que j’ai compris de vos échanges, qu’il va falloir vous organiser pour coder production d’un côté et coder commercialisation de l’autre.

Cela implique un changement de cadre / quotidien c’est certain.

Mais cela élargit drastiquement l’éventail des possibles. Reste à définir la stratégie. Et sur ce point, je pense que le pragmatisme doit l’emporter.

Aujourd’hui GMaps prend la seule direction qu’Alphabet lui permet : le pognon.

Donc si vous choisissez la même voie, c’est la lutte du pot de fer contre le pot de terre assurée.

D’où le partage avec vous d’un courrier resté sans réponse adressé à Qwant. Ce n’est qu’une hypothèse de travail (parmi d’autres) mais elle a le mérite de viser des “gens qui utilisent leur cerveau au quotidien” soit parce qu’ils ont envie de se cultiver soit parce que comprendre est leur carburant. Et c’est plus facile de s’adresser à quelqu’un rompu à la réflexion qu’à quelqu’un qui ne sait rien faire d’autre que dire “J’aime” ou “J’aime pas !”.

Je vous laisse à vos échanges et à vos réflexion en vous souhaitant un prochain “comité de direction” aussi productif et vertueux que possible.


Speaking entirely for myself, no.

I didn’t get involved in this project “to create an end-user alternative to the Google Maps website”. I had, by 2008 (after walking coast to coast across England and Wales) collected lots of geographic information that wasn’t really anywhere on other maps and was looking for a way to get it from one GPS device to another. The fact that it became available to other people as well was something of an accidental benefit.

What OSM is above all else is a do-ocracy. If you believe that OSM should do something that it does not do now then create a proof of concept of that thing - show what is possible by example. You say “je ne suis pas codeur” but you still have a couple of options - (a) learn or (b) pay someone to do it for you.