After an inspiring WYLUG talk about OpenStreetMap last Monday, John and I have decided to start mapping. John hacked our TomTom so it draws traces of our routes and we took a first test drive with it last night.
We drove around some of Armley’s main roads – most of it was already covered on OSM but we got a few new bits down and it was useful as a test exercise, seeing how our data linked up with the OSM data. Because we were driving, we had the trace thing to record a dot every second but it seems like it only did every 5-10seconds or so — which was a pain because we were moving comparatively fast. We also went over quite a wide area – from our estate in the middle of Armley, east to the near HMP Armley (about half a mile), then back along Tong Road and out towards New Farnley, then the outskirts on Pudsey and coming back through Bramley – so that made the size of our trace a bit too hard to handle for us newbs.
JOSM, the software we’re using to turn the traces into maps, was also a little harder to use than we would have liked. It is … quirky. Apparently it’s a very powerful tool once you get used to it and learn all the shortcuts but at the moment, to quote someone I just spoke to on #OSM, we’re alternating screaming and crying tears of joy.
Anyway, despite the hell that is JOSM, I drew up a couple of tiny residential roads near the prison last night and uploaded them to OSM – and they’re already visible on the Osmarender view. It’s not much of course but it’s a start. Today I traced my walk back from swimming (well, half of the walk because the TomTom was also being “quirky”) and I’ve added another three residential roads this evening. From small acorns do impressive free (as in freedom) mapping project grow.
I’ll walk different routes coming back from swimming until the whole of our bit of Armley is done but on a bigger scale, I want to help getting Bradford mapped and I’m planning mapping expeditions to Southport too since there is very, very little on there (just the railway line and that’s coincidentally very near my mum and dad’s house).
Am looking forward to being able to contribute – it reminds me of creating “much wanted” articles on random subjects (including Czech Airlines, suburbs of Leeds and Liverpool, and Eurovision) on Wikipedia in the early days. I very much hope that OSM will grow as hugely successful and popular as Wikipedia is today.