Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
New OpenStreetMap tiles from Stamen: water color, black and white, terrain (stamen.com)
247 points by drewda on Mar 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

When I first looked at OpenStreetMap a couple years ago I dismissed it solely because I didn't like the tile design. But now I see more and more really beautiful designs popping up (e.g. also those from http://mapbox.com/) and I expect OSM to gain a lot of importance in the next years (overtaking Google Maps maybe?). These 3rd-party tile designs a beautiful example of how much more can be done with data that's truly open!

The one thing I don't understand is who pays for hosting it. Once everyone uses OSM, won't it be prohibitively expensive for a non-profit to serve it? Maybe I'm wrong and it's not that much of an issue. Does anyone have an idea how much it costs Google to serve the Google Maps API? Wikipedia is in the same situation, and they solve it with their donation pleas. Maybe it would make sense if a fraction of our ISP bill automatically goes to the most visited non-profit websites. They offer kind of a public good to everyone, after all.

Disclosure: I work for MapBox.

Two parts: OpenStreetMap, the website, aims mainly to be a database and a great editing interface. So the end result is mostly the data, which you can download in full ( http://planet.openstreetmap.org/ ). They have a few sponsors to handle the bandwidth required ( http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Partners ), and a few meaty servers ( http://munin.openstreetmap.org/ ). There could always be more, and the base of partners could easily increase.

Part two is that _tiles_ and design are a different matter - OSM.org itself has low limits on the number of tiles you can use from their server before they start pushing you to use your own server or another service. MapBox is one of those services, and basically we handle a massive amount of work & bandwidth, and price out the service based on how much these things cost.

Once everyone uses OSM, won't it be prohibitively expensive for a non-profit to serve it?

Yes. The problem is that Google has started charging now as well- at least, once you hit a certain threshold. They might have a deal available for non-profits, I'm not sure. It's certainly something I'd hope MapBox are working on, because non-profit mapping seems like a large (and worthwhile area).

No doubt, the bandwidth costs are expensive, though. I made my own custom map tiles (you can see a demo of them in use at http://www.taxono.my) and put them behind an Amazon CloudFront server, which makes it about as cheap as possible. But still, if my traffic gets huge, it could be an issue.

> (...) which makes it about as cheap as possible.

Have you tried Cloudflare?

"Everyone" won't ever use OSM - its license is prohibitively restrictive for a lot of uses.

It's great for anyone that don't want to combine it with data they can't release, but for anyone that needs to mash it up with proprietary data, it's a non-starter by design. I think a lot of people don't realize this, as I've seen more than one company use OSM data in ways that either puts them in conflict with the license or will force them to open data they've previously been very protective of...

But as others have noted, most people will need to host themselves or pay someone to host it for them once they reach certain thresholds.

(disclosure: I've got an interest in a company in the GIS space that can't use OSM data exactly because of the license, so I do have a vested interest in it)

There is nothing that restricts the display of a proprietary data layer on top of an OSM render : in the resulting mashup, the variously licensed sources of data each remain in its own layer and there is therefore no mixing of conflicting licenses.

On the other hand, if you produce new data by processing OSM data or mixing it with your own, then you are constrained by the bounds of Openstreetmap's license.

> On the other hand, if you produce new data by processing OSM data or mixing it with your own, then you are constrained by the bounds of Openstreetmap's license.

.. such as the moment you provide a function to generate PDF versions of the maps, or any number of other features that end up mixing the data. So in effect you either accept severely limiting your features, or you use other sources of map data.

No - as long as the other items have no dependency on or interaction with the OSM layer, the generated PDF is clear of license conflict: it is still merely a composite display of independent sources, not a work produced on the basis of OSM data. If the OSM data was rendered without modification then it is not necessary to release the other data sources. Cf. http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Open_Data_License/Use_Cas...

They've changed their tune then, because that used to be explicitly called out as an example of a grey area in the old license that they would be prevented with the new license.

If that's correct then that's fantastic.

Given that it's contradictory to what used to be claimed, it still makes me concerned about touching it without having a lawyer going over the license in great detail, though...

Could you point to the part of the OSM license that says this?

I think you can layer data on top of tiles from osm with the openlayers api without licensing issues.

You're right that you can do probably that if you only ever keep the layers separate. The moment you e.g. provide export functions that combine the layers, you're currently in a grey area. With the new license, it's no longer a grey area, but you explicitly need to release your source data to be in compliance.

Not as long as the other items have no dependency on or interaction with the OSM layer.

Once everyone uses OSM, won't it be prohibitively expensive for a non-profit to serve it?

Wikipedia says no, but that may be an outlier. IMO they should start internalizing costs (especially for embedded maps) now before they get out of control, perhaps by throttling access so that high-volume users are encouraged to mirror and serve the data themselves. Coral CDN has a similar strategy: you can use it for free, but only a certain amount.

It's not clear if the 'they' in your statement is referring to OSM or a hypothetical non-profit, but, if OSM, they've always done this, I believe.

There are plenty of big users of OSM based tiles that would easily take down the OSM servers, so they have to either host their own or use some third-party to do so (MapQuest is surprisingly popular here, since they have capacity to spare and they'll serve OSM tiles up to some limit before starting to charge).

"OpenStreetMap data is free for everyone to use. Our tile servers are not."


Ah, I see they're ahead of me. But that policy is pretty vague about what heavy use means.

If you are a commercial provider, you can expected to be held to tight standards regarding your definitions. A not-for profit gets a lot more leeway, and "heavy use" is about as specific as OSM needs to get. If you are wondering whether you are crossing the line from "reasonable" to "heavy" use, just assume you've crossed it and make an effort to move your traffic onto your own tile server.

Does anyone know how much disk space a map tile set of the whole world takes up? It obviously depends wholly on zoom levels, etc, but if anyone has done this themselves I'd love to hear more about their experience.

about 54 TB. But only about 2% of tiles have ever been seen. Each zoom level has 4 times as many tiles as the previous level and zoom level 18 (the highest) doesnt have a lot of data.

Very interesting numbers - would you happen to have a source for them ? Is that the traffic for Openstreetmap.org's Mapnik tiles ?


Quote: "OSM does NOT pre-render every tile. Pre-rendering all tiles would use around 54000GB of storage. As the following table shows, the majority of tiles are never viewed. In fact just 1.79% are viewed."

Those figures are about a year old, though it does give a newer figure for space used which is about 1200TB or 2.7% of the total size estimated.

Mapbox's Streets global basemap is ~240 GBs.

source: http://macwright.org/presentations/nodedc/#7

OpenStreetMap pays to host tiles that are intended to be used by mappers. Ideally you would use one of the other providers (MapQuest Open, MapBox, make your own, etc.) if you are releasing a product that doesn't directly relate to improving the OSM map data.

Loved the watercolor tile.

And a plea to HN folks: I am working on a project, and it will be great if someone can point me to a way to dynamically apply such a filter to vector derived solid color images.

I am thinking of running a GIMP server, but I find the plugins available limiting. I have very limited image processing experience, and this was not a major part of the product, so had put it on the backburner. I will have access to the edges/ vector images, so there is no need for accurate edge detection- but such organic edges would add a lot if there is a way to do it.

The most important thing in watercolors is the texture of the paper.

They use a texture for sea, another for land, and so on. If you look at the see you will see how the sea and land repeats itself. You will need to make a seamless texture that you can repeat ad infinitum. Those are made with filters on photoshop or GIMP, or you could crreate them using fractals(very difficult for it to feel like a realistic watercolor, that is the reason they did not used them).

I don't like GIMP for that, plugins had a very confusing syntax, I prefer ImageMagick or better I use my own programs. Using Photoshop you can do it "with your hand"(selecting a vector shape, grow it with border transition, apply texture, and repeat), record and then use the macro for all your vectors.

I would use an OpenCL or CUDA program, faster and way more control.

Thanks, looking at the right textures, instead of texture generating algorithms helped here. I think I will purchase a bunch, and that should suffice.

I think this is how they are doing it:

1. Smooth the vector shapes (I'm not sure exactly how they're doing this. A blur and cutoff perhaps?)

2. Use the smoothed shapes as a mask over repeating colored watercolor textures.

3. Composite the various layers

They also seem to be applying a shadow underneath land masses.

Thanks! I did not think of smoothing the vector shapes, that partially explains how it blends so well.

The other thing is the edges of the shape- they are darker and blend in the lighter body of the fill. I guess that works by inverting the shapes, blurring, and using that as a mask for a different more intense blend.

And in both cases, I see there is some cool randomness going on. I see how I may be able to handle it for the latter- through a texture etc., but not sure how to handle the randomness in shape creation.

Also, it would be great if someone can suggest a good library to implement this. I am currently using Processing to render the image, but it may not be the best way for these set of procedures. The other image processing libraries I found were not high level enough.

PS: I have a hunch that their textures are not monochromatic. They seem multicolored and they are probably varying the hues of a colored texture to manage different shades.


stamen's work is based on this with some approximations, eg skipping navier-stokes.

Thanks a lot! It is often the right things to search for, and this really helped.

Also, your installation was a big relief from gradschool stress. And I enjoyed guessing the algorithms that went into different visuals, though I am sure I was mostly wrong, as I was here.

thanks :)

it's all one algorithm actually, just with different parameters: http://draves.org/npar06/

Great to see OSM projects advancing more and more each day. I love the style of the Toner profile...minimalist and simple.

As someone in the digital mapping industry, I really wish we'd open our data up a bit more.

I also love the high contrast look of Toner. Way too many OSM styles, and non-Google maps in general, have too little contrast.

I wish there were tiles similar to swiss cartographer Eduard Imhof's shaded relief maps. In my opinion, this is slowly but surely becoming a lost art form: http://www.library.ethz.ch/exhibit/imhof/imhof3.html, http://www.library.ethz.ch/exhibit/imhof/imhof8_e.html

There are already tiles like this, including the ones at this link. It seems like Imhof was part of the inspiration for creating them:



Though those are US only, similar tech is available for worldwide maps.





The primary differences are choice of colorscheme and the fact that the OSM examples are targetted at screen DPI and the paper map was probably intended to be wall mounted.

That's not a limitation of OSM, you can target different resolutions and print to large paper too, it's just not as common. Here's an example:


I. Want. That. Watercolor Filter. It is beautiful and warm, and makes me happy. How can I get it, how can I use it? I checked the site and their blog but can't find anything about it.

Original paper is here: http://otherthings.com/uw/watercolor/ (though I think some crappy academia links are broken)

Love to see creative renderings of maps, especially OSM data!

The texture of the 'watercolour' option is very impressive, but (to be critical) I wonder about the usefulness of it without labels and with the fuzziness of roads (some stop then start again, some meld into others which actually don't meet).

I love the toner option though :) Fantastic!

And the terrain map is great too. Certaintly easier to get a grip on than the OSM cyclemap (contour lines).

Although the Watercolor design is the most beautiful, I'll probably end up using the Toner tiles the most. They are perfect for paper prototypes and mockups!

In another case where users have been trained by google product methodologies: I just got pissed because scrolling my mouse wheel doesn't zoom.

The map framework they are using supports mouse wheel zoom but i think they chose not to use it so you could use your scroll wheel to scroll the page.

I do that quite often when embedding maps. It’s a toss up between the UI help of scrolling, and the interruption of normal page scroll.

The watercolor tile set is beautiful.

Does anybody remember the 8 bit mapping project?

Having the source styles for that style would be awesome. But maybe seeing the source for these I could get some ideas.

getting a 500 on all the image requests

Yeah, it's definitely buckling under the strain right now. Mine did something similar when I posted a map tile styling tutorial.

Good to see a CC license use the "commercial" option. I wish more did.

Really, gorgeous work. The "Toner" version is really well done and incredibly useful for anybody who needs to laser print / xerox a ton of maps. I can tell the server's choking right now so I'm going to stop playing with it, but I wanted to say the design choices here are truly excellent in balancing level of detail with readability. Great job.

Well, it has few bugs. Or, perhaps, it wasn't meant to be used outside of the US. Compare this:



(I guess I could just fork it and try to fix it, but I'm not sure how. I wish there was a tileset that wouldn't give so much prominence to the roads, but rather to the aspects that matter in the city. Important buildings and landmarks, foot-only pathways, public transit lines. Freeway is just an obstacle.)

Really? In that tileset, bodies of water are like toner cartridge death. I bet my printouts will start looking banded and faded after a few dozen pages of it.

Granted, there could be a "mostly water" version of the toner tiles, but most people are printing out the tiles of the land. But anyhow, if a little black kills your cartridge you should get a new printer.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact