Why are there no identifying names visible on the Great Lakes?

Or on the oceans, or seas? At any zoom level.
This doesn’t make sense to me…

Interesting. This node is obviously intended to provide a label for Lake Michigan, but apparently it doesn’t work.


Indeed, when looking at the mapnik style standard layer on openstreetmap.org

but there are more layers, see http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tiles and more sources in the OSM wiki.

At least the layer from mapquest-open displays some names of water bodies … you can choose that layer on osm.org.

The Github issues list for OSM’s “standard” style is at https://github.com/gravitystorm/openstreetmap-carto/issues .

I know that there have been a number of changes recently aimed at making e.g. countries show up rather than cities in countries, so there may have been a change that affected lakes too. If there’s nothing obvious logged already, it might be worth asking there so that someone can explain what’s going on.

This isn’t as strange as you think. While from a logical point of view, many labels may be desired, people usually tend to have a very simplistic idea of how OSM is rendered:

If you just put a name=x tag on it, it will be rendered won’t it?!

That’s NOT the case. In reality, each and every tag, in this case the relevant tag is place=sea, needs careful consideration if, and how, it needs rendering, and at what zoom levels. Granted, there are 19(!) zoom levels, and probably hundreds of tag combinations already being rendered, so the task of “fitting” it right in there, at suitable zoom levels and with a suitable rendering (font size, colors, icons?), isn’t an easy one at all often.

In reality, this amounts to quite a lot of work for even a single object / tag combination like place=sea. It requires designing the SQL database statement for selecting the right data from the underlying Postgresql database, design the render rules in terms of symbolization (color, font, icon etc.), rendering the data, and reviewing the results: does it fit in cartographically with all the rest?

Just slapping a name label on each node tagged with name=x at all 19 zoom levels and with font size 20 points in black, would result in a disaster…

So, have a little bit of patience and sympathy for those doing the hard work behind the scenes, as SomeoneElse already pointed out, see here and join the discussions, or post an issue if you can not already find a similar one listed (use the Search function first before posting something new):


Thanks for all of the responses. To be honest, I’m kind of amazed and somewhat disturbed that an issue like this, which I would assume is a top level design issue (i.e,. “okay, how are we going to render the identification for major geographical features like lakes, seas, oceans and peninsulas”) is still unresolved after all this time?

I would love to help out, and I have - by doing a fair amount of mapping around my own community, but I don’t have much extra time to wrap my brain around the issues that are involved with this problem. I’m sure if it were easy it would have been solved by now. I’m a newb, I don’t have the smarts to solve it, that is for sure…I’m still wrapping my head around multipolygons and relationships.

It’s good to know that the issue is known, and that people are working on it.

The most important thing is that the geographical data is free. There is a lot of different renderings of this data. Think not only on a map, a list of lakes (ot other elements) is also a rendering.