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You can view the map Openstreetmap
At first glance Openstreetmap looks very similar to Google Maps, Multimap, or Yahoo maps. When looking at your area in openstreetmap you may also notice there are large areas that don't seem to be complete. There is one very large difference between these previous mapping services and that is that the Openstreetmap map is copyright free. You can download (Export) the map and legally use it to make your own map or add the picture to your posters, flyers, or webpages.
Although there are areas which do not have much information there are places on the map which are very detailed.
For example here we can see in East Putney in London all the house numbers are shown
A second example shows how the information can be displayed in a different (Osmarender) style.
In the UK there is also information about topography in the Cyclemap
There are many reasons that volunteers are mapping their local area, first it is fun, discovering a lot of places that you didn't know that was there. For development projects, Aid agencies, maps can be invaluable to help pinpoint local resources and start effective local planning.
Using the main Openstreetmap page
When you first use Openstreetmap , it is very similar to other mapping sites. There is a zooming bar on the left hand side to zoom into an area of interest or if your mouse has a mouse wheel then you can use that. To move around the map click with the right hand mouse button and drag the map to your area.
Notice the '+' sign on the top right hand corner - click on that and it will give you a choice of displaying the map in a different style. Mapnik is the standard way the map is presented. Osmarender is slightly more colourful and shows different details. The cycle map will show topographical detail but not at the greatest zoom levels. Osmarender has a few bugs in certain parts of the world. So if you see 'unknown type' just keep zooming in. The other options are for the people that are editing the maps.
If you find you find an area that you like then you can click on the permalink link on the bottom right hand corner. This will change the URL in your search bar to that exact location. It will also include the type of style that you have chosen. You can then copy that link to send to other people.
Editing the map
In this section I will only briefly talk about editing the map. Editing is fairly straightforward and can be done in any web browser preferably Firefox. You will need an account which can be set up as easily as the account you use for this website.
When you click edit on the map page in openstreetmap you will be using a program called Potlatch. You can select lines(Ways) or points (nodes) or areas. You can then add tags to tell the map what they are.
The easiest way to learn is to watch and then to do.
Go to the Beginners Guide, watch the Introduction Video then learn how to use Potlatch. After watching the videos it is best to start by tracing an area that hasn't been done in developing countries. This is because there are less people there with access to fast computers and broad band. The editing of the map is fairly straightforward the difficult bit is to know what tags to use. There is a Map Features Guide here and it is probably more beneficial to see what other people have done and copy them.
More advanced mappers use a program called JOSM which stands for Java Openstreetmap
If you get to this stage you will know that this is much more fun than Minesweeper or Solitaire and you can join their mailing list or forums
Wikimapia: an online editable map, based on satellite photos. You can describe any place on Earth, or surf maps.The information that you put on this website is copyright and you cannot use it to create your own maps.