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Avoid Google Maps with Gnome Maps on GNU/Linux (ghacks.net)
107 points by eaguyhn 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

Much as I would like to avoid google, the routing on OSM or graphhopper leaves a lot to be desired.

There's no routing using public transport. Half the buildings I've tried looking up either don't exist on OSM / Gnome maps, or result in an address half-way across the globe.

That said, I prefer using HERE maps as it works very well in offline mode, including voice navigation, compared to anything else I've tried.

The fact is that getting a global mapping and navigation solution right takes tremendous effort and money (Apple can tell you a lot about how their attempts worked out for them), and I want an application that I can trust and that just works when I'm behind the wheel or at an unfamiliar location.

I'm sure OSM and alternatives will continue to improve over the years, and I'll play with them occasionally, but I will still go back to HERE, waze or google maps for the important stuff.

Even Apple struggles a bit with their maps despite financial resources. MS got help from HERE to get good maps...

Building these things is hard

Every time someone mentions HERE, I check Tokyo and see that it's still entirely missing.

The biggest problem with these open source maps is that there is no painless way to contribute updates.

Updating OpenStreetMap is incredibly easy. Create an account, click edit (iD, the javascript-based map editor, is intuitive and highly functional), make changes, click "save."

The hard part is learning how to map well. The documentation is fragmented: There's a multi-language wiki with a lot of inconsistencies in the translations. There are dozens of mailing lists for various regions and sub-topics. There are IRC channels. There's a web forum. There's a subreddit. There's a Stack-Overflow-style Q&A help site. There are Youtube videos. And you can often find a different answer to a simple question in each of these resources! A little chaotic. But I wouldn't quite call it painful.

> Updating OpenStreetMap is incredibly easy. Create an account…

Creating an account is a pain point for some people. I notify companies and individuals all the time about typos, dead links, bugs, etc. In any instance where I am not an established user, the process halts when I have to create an account. I’m giving freely of my time and knowledge; the process for me to do so should be as close to effortless as possible.

> Creating an account is a pain point for some people.

Fair enough. And even fairer, if you're not an experienced mapper you may easily be able to spot a problem but not be sure how exactly to fix it. OSM has you covered -- right-click the map and select "Add a note here". Add a quick note with all relevant info. It won't appear on the map, but mappers who are working in the area will (hopefully) see it and fix it.

Not sure if Gnome Maps implements this functionality, but most phone-based OSM clients do.

It's literally like wikipedia. Anyone can contribute, provided they make an account. There has to be some accountability with edits, hence the requirement. Your dream requires accepting anonymous edits, which opens the doors wide open to abuse.

You don't need an account to help with wikipedia. I've never created an account, but I've fixed many typos, anonymously.

OSM used to have anonymous edits, but that was disabled more than 10 years ago


> There's no routing using public transport.

At the same time, I found OSM much more reliable when it comes to finding public transport stops in small cities. True, it's not great when it comes to "how do I get to X", but it's great for "what's the closest public transport stop near X" in cities that Google Maps doesn't/won't support.

You can contribute better directions/addresses!

When a person is lost or misdirected, the priority is usually figuring out how to get where they wanted to go. Fixing the map is a low priority. Learning the complexities of the OSM API's and toolings is even lower. The process is complicated with many moving parts and tailored toward commercial level development not end map users. OSM, like any sophisticated database is complex and requires a substantial degree of technical commitment.

Adding a couple addresses using the editor built into the website should take 15-20 minutes (the first time, to register and do the walkthrough and such, just a couple minutes after that).

No need to muck directly with APIs and so on to make a quick contribution.

The structure of these projects is a long way from abstractions that deal with "Oh Shit, I'm lost and I'm late" well. The projects are largely inward focused and there's a lot of developers talking among themselves instead. The Open Street Maps page has no "Fix an Error" link. It has Help. Typing in an address and getting irrelevant data isn't a user error. It's a bug. Help is the wrong abstraction.

Gnome Maps is a layer of abstraction on top of that. Not only is there no "Fix an Error" link, there's no clear path for an end user reach the Beginner's page in the OSM Wiki explaining how to edit data.

> The Open Street Maps page has no "Fix an Error" link.

If you right click on the map, or click the "add a note" button on the right hand side, you can add a note to the map describing a mistake. You don't need to be logged in

How do I right click on my phone? While a bit tongue in cheek, the assumption that I'm on a computer when using a map is about a decade past the tipping point. Ignoring that, while it's good to know adding notes is a possibility, the channel by which it is conveyed, a Hacker News comment hours later, is exactly why the absence of a "fix an error" button is so frustrating. Nobody outside the OSM community looking at "add a note" would know that it is a good way to record an error.

> How do I right click on my phone?

On osm.org on my Firefox on Android I can long press and get the same popup which allows me to "Add a note". There is also the button on the right hand side for adding a note.

> a Hacker News comment hours later

My apologies, I'm in Europe and timezones, eh?

> Nobody outside the OSM community looking at "add a note" would know that it is a good way to record an error.

Can you suggest a better wording? or icon? Or system?

FTR, when you click on "add a note to the map" you get text saying:

> Spotted a mistake or something missing? Let other mappers know so we can fix it. Move the marker to the correct position and type a note to explain the problem.

Better wording "Fix an Error".

Hear hear. When I'm on a computer I usually go to Google because if I go to OSM and type in a nearby major road, it gives me a list of addresses. And the one I want is probably thirtieth on the list and has a form that is obscure. If you can't search for street names in OSM, it shouln't let me try. Instead of giving me useless results, it should direct me to how I can obtain useful results.

"Commercial Road" - no relevant results in two pages.

"Commercial Road malvern" - no results at all. It turns out in Malvern, Commercial Rd is called Malvern Rd. It seems cruel that OSM requires me to tell it exactly what I'm searching for and to get it right. Giving related information to help the search doesn't help it find the location.

"Sydney Road" - no relevant results.

"Sydney Road brunswick" - finally, the first result is listed as "Sydney Road, Brunswick, City of Moreland, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, 3052, Australia", but it's death by too much information. (a) It's buried in a list of very similar results and I can't quite be sure the one I got is the one I want - this becomes a bigger problem with a minor street. (b) who cares that it's in the city of Moreland? If you're going to list the local administrative district name, why not also the state electoral division? Address are place names, and "City of Moreland" simply isn't a place name. It's the name of the territory controlled by the Moreland City Council, but it's not a placename. Combining (a) and (b), take a look at "Sydney Road, Sparta Place, Brunswick, City of Moreland, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, 3039, Australia". What's that even supposed to mean? I cry.

Google suffers the problem in the opposite way, normalising addresses to the most obscure and ambiguous form they could find, preferring road numbers to names, and using "Melbourne" instead of the suburb name. But at least it finds the place I'm after. OSM is barely useable. Not for want of data, but because it just doesn't care to tell me how to find what I'm looking for. It's exhausting. OSM is useless for practical purposes. I want to use it for a variety of reasons, but I can't.

The default search functionality on OSM ("reverse geocoding" in mapspeak) does, indeed, need a lot of improvement. It's actually a separate project called Nominatim[1]. It's on Github and you can browse the issues and see a lot of similar complaints.

It's a daunting problem, parsing a free text query that may be in any language and trying to best match it with addresses that are standardized a hundred different ways all over the globe. In its current state it isn't good enough for everyday use. It's annoying how often a Google Maps search sends me to the wrong state or even the wrong country. But with Nominatim it's almost a given.

This underscores one of the fundamental features/bugs of the OSM project: It's pretty good at attracting mappers, developers, and 3rd-party projects that use its data and APIs, but it's never really been designed to meet the needs of end users. UX, according to the classic OSM schema, is to be implemented by the various 3rd parties in whatever way suits them best. If someone wants to develop and host a Google Maps replacement using OSM data they're welcome to do it (and they can provide their own reverse geocoding solution if necessary) but that's not an immediate goal of OSM itself, according to the current leadership.

[1] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Nominatim

Sure, but that's a funnel problem, not a problem with the level of learning required to do a basic contribution. Someone with a modest level of commitment will probably make it through the sign up and tutorial.

Apparently there's an issue where you think the beginner walk through should be better advertised outside of the sign up process?

The "funnel problem" manifests itself as a data problem. More importantly, the "funnel problem" is a social problem. A modest level of commitment to learning software is much more modest than a modest level of commitment to fixing software. Learning how to use open source mapping software is based on the immediate practical value of getting from A to B. Learning how to fix open source mapping software requires a different set of values, it requires a commitment to a philosophy/ideology/goal of arguable merit. I'm not arguing for or against it. Only pointing out that taking the moral high ground leads to the idea that signing up and working through a tutorial is a reasonable act by ordinary users when the alternative is Google Maps.

I honestly don't expect it of ordinary users.

I was explicitly pushing back against your depiction of contributing: Learning the complexities of the OSM API's and toolings is even lower. The process is complicated with many moving parts and tailored toward commercial level development not end map users. OSM, like any sophisticated database is complex and requires a substantial degree of technical commitment.

20 minutes for a moderately motivated person is worlds away from what you said.

Of course OSM would benefit greatly from further lowering the bar, but like you say, that's a lot of work.

Until you can do this from your phone it's kind of irrelevant. I am certainly the type to update an address database, but rarely the type to remember to do it when I get home.

There's a learning curve, but Vespucci is a full featured editor for Android. There's no full featured ios editor.

Maps.Me and OSMAnd will both edit POIs (for adding a shop or whatever).

Go Map!! (https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Go_Map!!) is pretty good for iOS.

The parent comment was also complaining about the lack of public transport routing, and this is not something that you can fix easily, as far as I know: there is no software support for public transportation timetables/routing as far as I know.

(Edit: in fact there is work in progress about this in Gnome Maps https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gnome-maps/issues/25)

I've tried fixing some obvious errors on OSM only to have my changes reverted. The project isn't exactly welcoming to new contributors.

I've never heard this before. My edits certainly aren't rejected, and aside from a few top contributors I doubt anyone recognizes usernames (so I nor others would have such bias). It's extremely rare that I have to undo some of someone's work because there are real mistakes.

Could you link the changeset perhaps? I'm curious now.

Could you please provide a link to the changes that you had made? This would be useful for OSM editors to understand what has gone wrong.

So how do you actually do this? Can you just open up Google Maps with OSM side-by-side and copy addresses? Or you need to source it from somewhere else?

There are also nice tools like this: https://github.com/westnordost/StreetComplete

It's quite easy to use and if you don't plan to draw new roads this is the fastest way to fill gaps wherever you are.

The more advanced app would be this: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Vespucci

Though I don't have experience with it.

Copying from Google Maps would violate copyright. Ideally you visit the place in question and correct them in OSM based on your observations. There are also some satellite maps that are licensed for use as OSM source (and that are often integrated in OSM editors)

Facts like street addresses are not copyrightable. The visual drawing of roads and other features on maps can be, however.

In the USA, yes there is clear precedent saying that. But other places (e.g. UK) don't have this case, so it's not so clear. EU law has created [sui generis] "database right", which is is like copyright for a collection of facts.

OSM is not a place to explore the grey areas of international copyright law.

> Facts like street addresses are not copyrightable.

Google says it is[0]. It might be true because when you get street address from Google, you are also getting the mark on the map for the location. Whether it's true legally or not, it's better to stay away from their data. That is, if you use Google maps, you agree their terms and thus you are not allowed to copy the data.

And btw, I have seen (possibly deliberate) mistakes in street address markers in Bing maps (which is the recommended map[1] to follow for Open street map editors). So don't think that they won't find you if you copy their data).

[0] https://developers.google.com/maps/terms#6-googles-proprieta... (The definition of Content is explained in the following section, which says "... and places data (including business listings). ")

[1] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Bing_Maps

Bing Maps aren't recommended for use in OSM.

Microsoft has generously provided permission and server resources for use of Bing Aerial Imagery since 2010, but that's different than their map product.

Lately there's a bunch more imagery providers that give permission for use in OSM. Mapbox, Digital Globe and ESRI all provide imagery layers with global coverage. There's also quite some government imagery available, OSM editors will show them as an option in the areas they cover, so be sure to check when editing.

Violating T&Cs is not the same as copyright infringement. What you linked to are terms for the API, the Google Maps/Google Earth Additional Terms of Service [0] would be the more relevant document. But again, violating Google's Terms is not the same as copyright infringement.

I don't know whether Bing Maps uses trap streets [1] or not.

[0] https://www.google.com/intl/en_us/help/terms_maps.html

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trap_street

An individual fact isn't copyrightable, a collection of facts can be. Details vary by jurisdiction, but in an international project like OSM you have to comply with the strictest jurisdiction

But the subject was an individual adding a street address for a route. That's not a collection of facts.

The address alone is a single fact, but its context on a map that allows it to be found is a collection of facts

As an OSM contributor in the UK myself and my peers only use clean-room data ( firsthand visit ) or data from public sources ( planning applications etc )

You need to source it from somewhere else, usually your own knowledge – go to places, photograph them, add them in OSM.

Despite what others might tell you, Google does not own addresses and associated information (opening hours, phone number etc.), so you’re free to copy them side-by-side. Uploaded photos are a no-go though.

Edit: for all people blindly ramming that downvote button, see my explanation below.

No, don't do this.

OpenStreetMap isn't an experiment in the legalities of copyrights, database rights and terms of service. Only use sources with clear provenance and clear permission.

Person A copies information on opening hours, the address, postal code, phone number etc. from the website (or even multiple sources) of a business onto Google Maps. Person B then copies this information from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap. The copyright either lies in the public domain or with the original website, not Google (Maps). This should be crystal clear and is in no way ‘an experiment’.

Okay, so now address the Google TOS (no extraction) and database rights.

Note that this is a FAQ:


At least there was this recently https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/01/ninth-circuit-doubles-...

Obviously that only covers one specific angle though.

The point here becomes that the original data source(s) are freely available and often unlicensed. Same example: the local bakery is not going to license their website information (or often the site is copyrighted by the creating company). You can copy this information to OSM. You can copy this information to Google Maps and OSM at the same time. Google cannot put this information under their license with a ‘no extraction’ rule because they don’t own that information. I get that OSM has to be cautious but no sane judge would ever rule in Google’s favor in this case.

After spending some time adding info to OSM, you'll start to see plenty of cases where Google and Yelp have info for an establishment that's nowhere to be found on their website. And even for some businesses that don't have a website at all. Some of it's extracted from their street view imagery, but some of it clearly isn't. I can walk by my local bakery and their phone number and hours aren't posted anywhere visible. Maybe they're on the takeout menu. Maybe a business card. Maybe they're printed on the receipt. Maybe you actually have to ask someone.

You can't assume that everything on Google Maps is from scanning public web sites. Sometimes, apparently, they do some actual investigation.

Plus, Google's not always right anyway! Nothing's more embarrassing than being caught copying incorrect information. So do your own research. Obviously copying info from a public website is fine, but info on the ground is going to be more complete and reliable. (Plenty of businesses are sloppy about updating their websites.)

Yes you can copy it into OSM from the original source. But not if it's gone through Google.

> Google cannot put this information under their license with a ‘no extraction’ rule because they don’t own that information.

So what prevents someone from extracting all of Google Maps' data to OSM?

> so you’re free to copy them side-by-side.

The OSM community will delete your contributions if you do this. And you risk being banned. Please don't bring copyright infringment into OSM

That is theoretically true in some jurisdictions, absolutely wrong in others, and completely untested in most.

Open Street Map specifically bans doing so, and if you’ve done any edits based on this, they should be reversed, as they threaten the legality of the entire project.

I use the "Report an issue" feature with Apple Maps quite often, and I've noticed that they've become a lot faster with updating things. even things such as "pin in the wrong location." I've added new businesses and found them on the map just a few days later.

Apple Maps has improved so much. but it's only as good as the data it's fed.

> Apple can tell you a lot about how their attempts worked out for them

Worked out pretty fine in the end if you ask me. I'm using apple maps all the time and it works just fine.

Have you tried asking people for directions?

I find talking to other people and asking for directions is better because you (sometimes get shortcuts and) meet new people, find out interesting facts, get updates like, "Yeah it's over there but it's closed due to flooding" or, "over there mate but if you go around the back you'll skip the queue." Aint no online system telling you those gems.

I've also found reading a static map and or remembering the directions given to me, or discovering them through exploration, solidifies the knowledge and I remember them long term.

We rely too much on GPS.

This anti-technological-advancement stance comes up often enough and always seems ridiculous to me.

> We rely too much on GPS.

A slightly more extreme variant of this argument would be "Have you ever set out a rain-catcher and drunk your own water? It has more bacteria so your guts are more hardy, and not having enough water builds character. We rely on the water system too much".

There are various other arguments along that line that could be made, but they're all basically "Why not ignore technical advances and do things in a more time consuming and error prone way to build character (or have a more genuine experience or something)"

There is nothing wrong if a person wishes to do this. I know map enthusiasts who like to learn roads and maps and cities' grid systems because it's a hobby.

However, encouraging people to ignore technological advancements is silly; for someone who wants directions from A to B, digital maps are obviously superior, and it's time-saving measures like these that add up to advance society and improve our lives.

> Aint no online system telling you those gems.

Google maps and reviews do tell you if a place is closed, if you should go in a different way, or if there are secret menus often as not, but this tiny factual bit isn't my actual gripe, but rather the tone of the comment as I responded to above.

I never said don't use GPS. GPS is excellent in a lot of ways. Google's consumer options in this space are world class and incredibly useful. I used them my self this past weekend in Melbourne. They worked.

I'm saying don't rely on it too much. Don't expect it to always be there. Have fun with other options. Learn to read a map because it's a fun and useful tool, and so on.

Use technology.

> This anti-technological-advancement stance

Please don't put words into my mouth or tell me what I am or am not. I'm literally a programmer working in tech who uses Google Maps at least once per week.

Unfortunately asking for directions is not an option for everyone, to put it lightly.


I don't really understand the down votes to your comment. It truly is difficult to be black in America lately

No solution is a solution for everyone.

We do rely too much about GPS, but asking people for directions isn’t exactly a mapping solution.

There are no people on the streets in USA. This technique works in India though.

It works in India, but you need to ask at least 5 people and go with the majority opinion ;-)

But you just made 5 new friends for life :)

And if you look rich enough, "for life" is about another 20 minutes.

Thanks for the downvotes (for having an opinion and offering another solution to a local problem.)

I know not everyone can ask for directions. Not everyone can even use a mobile phone but that doesn't mean I can't offer it as a solution to a problem.

If you're interested in contributing to GNOME Maps, you can install GNOME Builder and run it, click on the Maps icon under "Contribute to an existing project", and then hit the Run button once it clones/opens.

You'll have a local build, with all the dependencies met, in an IDE to contribute to the project.

Also, http://wiki.gnome.org/Newcomers

The thing is Google Maps is so much more than a pure map, or even a multi-modal routing service.

It's also a searchable registry of all kinds of businesses, a review and qa aggregator for everything from mountain peaks to restaurants; a price comparison tool for hotels; an organized photo database where for many restaurants you could, if you wanted to, see a satellite view of a restaurant, aerial footage, then street view imagery and finally photos of individual dishes. The list goes on, I'm sure there are features I've never seen because they are not available where I live. It's probably the most impressive customer facing Google product, and maybe the hardest to replace.

That said, I still have both Google Maps and Osmand on my Android device. While it doesn't have the breadth of functionality that Google Maps does, and Osmand's interface takes some getting used to, more often than not OpenStreetMap exceeds Google Maps in terms of accuracy and detail of the pure map data. Which is incredible! So when I'm planning a hike, I use OSM. But during the hike, when I'm searching for a place to have a bite, I use Google.

> But during the hike, when I'm searching for a place to have a bite, I use Google.

I hope, when you're on your hike, you add the restaurant to OSM! :) Along with all the other info (wheelchair accessibility, wifi, opening hours etc etc)

Osmand is a great advanced mapping app but try Maps.me for more like a Google Maps replacement.

"Google Maps is so much more than a pure map"

Which makes it's a shitty pure map. Every time one of those "features" gets in the way of typing in an address and navigating, I want to throw my phone out the window. That stuff should be plug-ins for people that think they need it.

Navigation is not a pure map feature, either.

Sorry, I forget sometimes most of you are from a differnt plane of existence. I wish more of my wizard friends were on HN.

> I was scrolling around the world, setting directions for how to cross Russia by foot (which let me tell you in case you ever wondered, should take roughly 60 hours, depending on locations used)

Huh, out of curiosity, I just checked Google Maps, and it suggests that walking from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok would take 1,883 hours. That's quite a discrepancy. I suspect that Google is probably more accurate in this instance.

I'm pretty sure he meant to write 60 days (1440 hours).

What is the advantage of using Gnome Maps over just OpenStreetMap.org? From their website[1], it seems like it's still just a client for the various services

Gnome Maps can respond to user pan/zoom much faster. G-Maps is hooked in to MapBox's commercial-scale map tile service, which in turn delegates the bulk work to servers run by cloudfront.net. Run tcpdump to see this.

The OpenStreetMap.org application is only supposed to be used for editing OSM data. It is not supposed to be used as a gmaps alternative. For that you should take the Planet OSM data and create a map service (WMS or similar) yourself.

The development of the website is definitely focused on helping mappers.

It's fine for individuals to use it for whatever though.

I guess it depends on how you define "heavy use". According to their policy, you should not distribute any application that uses their tile server.


Sure. The OP is talking about individuals directly using the website as a map though.

(I've added "for individuals" to my first comment)

Eh not really. The OSM community hasn't really settled on what OSM.org is supposed to do. It's very definitely made for regular end users in mind. So you can use it for that.

Appears to be integrated route planning and satellite view.

It's just another option, it's about choice. You could very well use maps.me as I do on Android, or any of the other solutions.

Gnome Maps is a lot faster than the website.

> I was scrolling around the world, setting directions for how to cross Russia by foot (which let me tell you in case you ever wondered, should take roughly 60 hours, depending on locations used) in a matter of moments, and it really was quite easy to do.

This post lost me here. I couldn’t cross Maryland in 60 hours on foot. Much less Russia. Missing some zeros?

Could it be 60 days?

Russia has a maximum east-west extent of some 5,600 miles (9,000 km) and a north-south width of 1,500 to 2,500 miles (2,500 to 4,000 km). (According to Encyclopedia Britannica)

How long would that take to walk? Let's look at another continent for data..

According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association the Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometers) and the elite athletes can do two months, generally it takes five months.

So: 60 days to cross Russia North-to-South is not entirely out of question.

And then, who knows what the author meant. If you were to walk from Pattina, Estonia to Rasony, Belarus, that's about 60 hours and almost all of it is in Russia and in a sense it crosses Russia.

Yeah I’m guessing it must be days. I entered Moscow to Vladivostok into Google Maps (heh) and got 73 days. In reality I’m pretty sure that walk would take me at least half a year. Probably a year.

Yeah that's just distance divided by speed, I think. That's why I picked the Pacific Trail data instead.

Unfortunately, Gnome Maps does not provide distances in miles. Yes, I could do the math to convert these, but graphhopper already does that for me. So, it's a nice app, but one missing feature makes it practically useless for me.

That's an opportunity to start using the metric system!

> Unfortunately, Gnome Maps does not provide distances in miles. Yes, I could do the math to convert these, but graphhopper already does that for me. So, it's a nice app, but one missing feature makes it practically useless for me.

Without having ever used Gnome Maps or looked at the code, it seems to me that adding this could be a reasonably straight-forward pull request. I'm not necessarily suggesting you yourself should do it, but a quick bug report to this effect would get picked up quickly, I'd hope.

It does for me. Sounds like it is likely relying on current locale.

How does it compare to KDE Marble?

I don't understand why anyone would deliberately put themselves at a serious disadvantage by using sub-par map/browser/etc technology in the hopes of somehow limiting Google's ability to gather data. Unless you exist in a vacuum, in the long-run what you're actually doing is failing to take advantage of the data that Google's making accessible to you, at your own expense.

Perhaps someone here can tell me something. I've had another rant, but this is a case of plain wrong information which is different. But I don't know how to go about fixing it.

In Australia, addresses are in the form [Street Number and Name], [Locality (i.e. suburb, town, rural district), Postcode State]. Localities are therefore very important. They need to be in any mapping database of Australia, because people will enter addresses in that form because it's what the post office uses and the local councils define.

But it looks like someone went to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and downloaded the "State Suburb" boundaries and uploaded them into Open Street Map. "State Suburbs" are not places and not used in addresses. They're statistical regions used for reporting statistics. "State suburbs" are built up of other statistical regions to approximate towns, suburbs and rural districts. They sometimes correspond well enough at a broad level to suburbs in metropolitan areas, but even in densely populated urban areas they can be wrong because what makes statistical sense isn't always the administrative border. In country areas, they take scant regard for locality boundaries. "State Suburbs" should never have been uploaded to the database.

(There's an analagous problem with Local Government Areas, which are statistical regions, and municipal districts, which are the territory of a local council. But here the distinction is going to be rarely significant because LGA boundaries are deliberately aligned to municipal district boundaries. Consequently it's more a matter of the source of the authority than the content of the data.)

You can go to data.gov.au and download locality boundaries for each state. These are what is wanted.

But I have no idea how to do this. I don't really know where to begin. I once asked someone for help about trying to find the right forum to ask for help. But it's daunting. When these online databases contain work that is wrong, it's so hard to fix them. People will be possessive of the work they've done. It's possible some of them have been corrected. Others might have been partially corrected. I just don't see how I can go through and fix them without upsetting anyone.

The alternative seems to be to just accept that there's wrong data in there because there's way too many to fix manually, even if I start now and keep going in all my spare time for the rest of my life.

So the first port of call is the Australian community. They have a mailing list (talk-au) which appears active enough. Send an email to them to ask. They might know more about it https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk-au

If you want to upload a dataset to OSM, be careful! that's called an import, and can be tricky to do. As you've noticed, it's easy to add the wrong data the wrong way. Imports are advanced topics https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Import

OSM can store all sorts of data, so there might be a need for the "State Suburbs", esp if you want to do statistical work. But you point out that they shouldn't be used for geocoding (address lookups), so maybe those state suburbs are tagged wrong.

That's not the case in my local area. The suburbs boundaries align quite accurately with the boundaries provided on the local council's GIS. The OSM boundaries are line-strings, so they don't have all the contours from the council, but it's clearly a representation of the real boundary, not the ABS boundary.

What areas are you looking at.

Hi. If you read my comment, I acknowledge that I can't simply replace the existing data with an upload because they've probably been fixed - the problem is that the suburb boundaries that are in OSM are a mish-mash of suburb/locality boundaries and state suburbs boundaries. This [probably] occurred as a matter of history because they started as "state suburbs" and then people have corrected them in metropolitan areas. Consequently, today they represent nothing - neither statistical areas nor address areas - because you never know whether this particular area (a) represents the SS (b) represents the locality (c) represents both because they're identical (d) represents the SS on one front and the locality on the other.

One place to look at is Mirboo. I've just picked it to avoid yielding too much PII, but it barely respects the existence of surrounding rural districts. (It might even swamp them like others I know - I'm afraid I don't have my full system here.) I know of other examples (locations to which I have an attachment), but you'll forgive me if I avoid giving too much PII on a public forum.

I'm afraid I can't give an exhaustive list because I haven't produced one. Also because I anticipate that if I produce a report it will come to nothing - I usually find that public databases are curated by people who will refuse to accept that any major corrections are necessary because they've already worked on the problem for years and therefore a major correction is taken to be an insult.

As an example, if I can only produce examples in rural areas, I fear that someone will say "we have thousands of correct addresses, but there's only twenty addresses affected by this example, and thirty by that example - it's not important enough". At that point it seems there's no point even producing a report. OSM will just fall into the category of useless databases, where, like Wikipedia, accuracy and convenience are not valued.

I read your comment, but in the absense of any specific examples it was hard to know the details of the problem.

The OSM Wiki contains a Data Catalogue for Australia. https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Australian_Data_Catalogu...

The issue right now is that both the PSMA data (that you want OSM to use) and the ASGS data (that you infer it is using - and in some cases that might be the source of the boundaries that were entered, but it is not officially in use by OSM) are licensed under CC-BY, which is not 100% compatible with the ODbL that OSM uses.

The necessary solution is to request an explicit waiver from the data provider, which has been requested for PSMA, but (as far as I know) never received a response.

OSM boundaries are stored in the OSM DB as polygons (which are made up of linestring)

Gnome Maps looks great.

I wish they would add a local tile cache, like Marble. Not everyone are online all the time.

There is one that was implemented in response to my request for it before GUADEC last year.

I think it's still hidden behind an environment variable though due to some uncertainty behind who the long term tile provider would be.

You know how to enable it?

I'm disappointed that it offers no offline functionality. I'd like to download the map and do all the pathing and rendering locally, because I don't want to transmit over the internet what I'm looking at and where I want to go.

The only google service I rely on is their map. I wish there were an alternative.

Openstreetmap. It's an alternative that desperately needs your (and other's) help. There will not be a 1:1 replacement for google maps unless folks put forth some effort. Be a osm contributor today (it's ridiculously easy with Osmand, or maps.me, or many many other clients.)

And yet, ads on the site are served up through Google.

Kills your chosen theme's window preferences, in particular the ability to resize by point-and-drag anywhere along the window border.

Gnome calls this behavior the "CSD Initiative":


>on GNU/Linux

that sounds so strange to me.

Why target the desktop instead of web/Android/iOS ?

People use GNU/Linux, why shouldn't they have a quality native map and navigation application?

why would you use a navigation app on a desktop os ?

You do realize that GNU/Linux also runs computers that aren't anchored to a desk, right?

GNOME has been working on improving touch interface support with an eye towards mobile devices for years now.

Personally I tend to look up where I'm going prior to leaving rather than relying on turn-by-turn navigation systems. I load up a map, and use navigation features to route my trip, and I personally consider this navigation - just not realtime. Usually I write down the directions on a scrap of paper. Not everyone willfully carries around a surveillance device, and options like GNOME maps makes it possible to still have modern technology at your disposal without participating in these highly invasive ad-funded surveillance systems.

good for you, have a pat on the back

Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.


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