Status of OSM 3D


I became curious about and then interested in OSM after a great experience using OSM maps on my Garmin Edge 810 (via

As I read and dabbled a bit I learned of the OSM 3D project which was really exciting to discover. As I read (and read and read), I started to become confused. There seem to be so many conflicting suggestions about how to tag/model structures even for the “Simple” 3D buildings and then when I try the various renders many seem to be still in a demo or early stage even after having started in 2011. Some don’t seem to have been changed since then (e.g. glosm). Kendzi3d pinned one of my cores and locked the UI thread of JOSM and never did actually finish/render anything. Others that do work are very slow on a machine used to run AutoCAD.

Is OSM 3D converging into single model I can use for tagging/modelling buildings? The Simple 3D Building model is clunky but at least a start. But tagging according to recommendations there for a simple building didn’t seem to work XNavigator. (Building:Levels seemed to be ignored while building=yes and building=retail had shape without levels or height. In F4 it did seem to work, but F4 seems also very slow.

Any suggestion of a modelling/tagging scheme and renderer (actively developed) to view that scheme more or less correctly would be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile I’ll keep reading and trying things. I’m a bit leary of java based renders based on the performance I’ve seen, but I’ll try any recommended.


Hi Blair, welcome to the OSM forum, and thank you for sharing your perspective on the OSM 3D scene!

Your first impression is right – there are a lot of hurdles and rough edges when it comes to 3D OpenStreetMap. However, we have made a lot of progress in the past years, and I hope I can clarify things a bit.

As you have discovered, “Simple 3D Buildings” is pretty much what we have as far as consensus on mapping 3D buildings goes. So if you want to map 3D content yourself, this is what you should preferably use. If you have found information that contradicts this, I would be interested to hear where that was – it is almost certainly outdated.
There are a lot of other things that can be rendered in 3D besides buildings, but there are very little tags specifically designed for 3D.

When one tries to find working rendering applications, one of the problems is that there are a lot of dead projects around. As far as I know, XNavigator has not been updated to work with Simple 3D Buildings, for example. I believe this list should be mostly up to date, and it also mentions limitations.

Many people these days prefer F4 Map. I obviously like my own project, OSM2World, although I’m afraid using the offline software is not very comfortable. But feel free to check out the links in my signature.

hello ! F4 Map shouldn’t feel slow, can you elaborate on this so we can work on it ?


Thank you for your reply.

OSM2World is one I haven’t tried yet so I will definitely give it a go. I’m a bit old school so do actually like being able to work offline. I’ve read a lot in the last week so I can’t recall any specifics from the wiki that were inconsistent. I’ll need to read them over a few more times I’m sure so I’ll mention any of these when I come across them. The biggest frustration was the viewers…some appeared touched for years. One of the first pages I read on OSM 3D said to install XNavigator so that was where I started but as you say it didn’t seem respond to my tags yet other buildings had shape without any 3D specific tags (that I could see).

I’ll keep experimenting and will try out OSM2World and a few of the others on the page you pointed me at.

Thanks again,

Hi Cactusbone,

For F4 it took a long time to start up when I tried last night and as I moved the camera closer to level (showing the horizon) it seemed to really bog down. Once things loaded, panning etc. seemed to work well as long as didn’t get too close to the horizon.

I tried again this morning at work and it was much better. The load time was reasonable and as raised the camera to include the horizon it worked fine. So my experience last night may have been related to loading of data. I will try again tonight on my laptop again at home to see if it’s consistent on that machine and connection.


Please provide some additional information about problem. Feel free to send bug request or email me with some more information about problem.

@blairT Also wenn du bei vielen projekten ein Problem mit der schnellen Darstellung hast, wäre es denkbar, das deine Hardware nicht die neuste ist, bzw. nicht optimal auf 3D ausgerichtet ist. Sowohl bei webgl also auch bei Kendzis Plugin wird die Rechenarbeit auf deinem Server gemacht. Es hängt also ndeben dem Datenfluss vor allem daran was bei dir an Hardware läuft.
Allenfalls die OSM2World setzt derzeit auf Kacheln. Dies hat dann die üblichen Einschränkungen. Also du kannst nicht frei zoomen oder den Winkel ändern, da die Bilder ja bereits vorgerechnet sind.

ok thanks for the feedback ! displaying the horizon shouldn’t cause any problem but we do load more stuff, so maybe we hit a limit somewhere :slight_smile:

Hi Blair,

welcome to OSM forum and welcome to the great world of OSM 3D :slight_smile:

Reading your original post, I understand that you consider the Wiki pages a mess. And I’d totally agree with that :wink: Over time many pages have been created there: Quite often with overlapping content, sometimes with contradicting information. There are 3D, 4D pages, there are special sites for roofs, trees and so on and in my opinion many of these pages should have been put on users’ pages, not in the main wiki space, as they’re often ideas or views of single persons. I’d argue that there is just one “official” page regarding 3D tagging and that’s the Simple3DBuildings wiki page. The tagging scheme described there is still limited and I agree that we should extend it at some place. However, it’s also a matter of the tools (especially renderers, exporters,…) to make use of extensions.

Speaking of tools, in my impression there are (only) 3 projects that are up-to-date and make use of the Simple3DBuildings tagging scheme. These are F4, Kendzi and OSM2World where the latter two are open source projects. Kendzi is quite active and if you found a bug, I’m sure he’ll help and fix the bug. The same applies for F4 and OSM2World.

And let me take this to be a bit pedantic: OSM2World is a converter which takes OSM data to export it to any format you like. For example there’s an OpenGL-GUI for direct use on your desktop, there’s an export to blender, povray and so on. The output of tiles is just one other possible output which can be used to produce e.g. this slippy map which is maintained by me. And while we’re at it: If your preferred tagging region is not rendered yet, we’re happy to add it to our servers. This way it will be refreshed regularly so you can make use of the slippy map for your area :wink:

Hi Kendzi,

From the screenshots I have seen I would very much like to get your plugin working. I probably won’t get to it until the weekend but I will try again and report what I find.


Hi viw,

I’m understanding you thanks to google translate however what you say seems clear and may be an issue.

I have access to two machines, one is a high-end laptop with nvidia gforce graphics card and 64bit I7 (dual core) processor. The other is a quad core (non-hyperthreaded) 64 bit I7 desktop with an Autodesk approved graphics card. Both are Win7 and are indeed about 4 yrs old so getting a bit long in the tooth. I can however still run AutoCAD comfortably on both. The laptop is what I’ll be working on most but the desktop is available to see if the laptop is the cause of any issues. The desktop also has excellent internet so any differences may also be related to data loading as well.

I don’t run many java applications so don’t have a good feel for java performance on these machines. JOSM seems to run well though and is so far is my preferred editor.

My day job is working on a 3D software product (product manager now but was a developer at one time) so I do have a some knowledge of working in the 3D world–but more from working with objects in 3d rather than issues of rendering, we use AutoCAD to handle that. I understand the concept of tiling but don’t have any experience working with it or GIS software so learning this and it’s affect on rendering will be part my adventure.



Thanks for your reply and welcome!

Regarding the wiki, as someone coming new to it I wouldn’t want to say it that way :), but it is challenging to figure out what I should do for a given goal, even modest ones. Also being new to OSM in general means learning the core mapping and tagging schemes as well, which seem to have regional flavours and also have alternatives discussion interspersed in the wiki. I haven’t looked at 4D yet but did glance at the interior mapping project. I imagine maintaining the renderers could be challenging. It is a lot of information to wade through to get going…but I also appreciate it covers a wide area of information and interests to convey so won’t be straight-forward, even in the best case.

Your and Tordanik’s suggestions of sticking with the Simple3DBuildings wiki page and using F4, Kendzi3d and OSM2World as viewers allows me to narrow down considerably what I’m experimenting with so helps a lot.

I looked at my area on and by the broken image tiles it showed I suspect it isn’t covered. If you could add it that would be great. What form should I specify the area needed and how specific need I be? Ideally I’d like a reasonable chunk of the bottom of Vancouver Island ( If adding areas is relatively expensive, I’ll only be editing the city of Victoria, Saanich, and the Saanich Peninsula for now (

Cheers and thanks,

Hi Blair,

I added part of the island (it’s currently still rendering). I didn’t add Saanich Peninsula yet, it’s the part in the north, right? Let me know if it’s enough. And note: it’ll be rerendered at a regular intervall, not triggered by changes made to the database!


That’s perfect for now.

Yes, the Saanich Peninsula is the part to the north with the town of Sidney near the north east corner. But this gives me enough to play with as I get my feet wet.

Thank you!

Have a look at my “clunky” OpenStreetMap animation:

Pretty cool, MagBen. I like it! Make more examples from other Cities!

Those dark outlines look very good for that scene. I really enjoy all your 3D OSM videos, MagBen! And it makes me happy that OSM2World has helped to create them. :slight_smile:

I searched with for interesting buildings.
In Karlsruhe ( I found two very detailed modelled buildings.

The animation:

Cool, thank you a lot!

Even seen Kremlin, Moscow?
Somebody from Holland has done pretty job…

Could you maybe in future test this area:
I teached young people from this city ( 14-16 y.o.) how to make S3DB.
I believe i can motivate them with one good example. :wink:

Beeindruckend finde ich ein paar Beispiele in Paris (Effelturm oder Truimphbogen: Weiß jemand, wie man das macht (nachmachen kann) - mit normalen “Bordmitteln” von OSM scheint das nicht möglich zu sein. Jedenfalls ist der Eiffelturm kein schlechtes Beispiel mehr, wie hier: behauptet wird.