A New Editor for OpenStreetMap: iD

January 31 2013 by Saman Bemel Benrud

Today we are announcing the launch of ideditor.com, home of the web-based OpenStreetMap editor iD currently in Alpha phase. This launch marks our stepped up involvement in the development of this editor. iD is designed to help create an even better, more current OpenStreetMap by lowering the threshold of entry to mapping with a straightforward, in-browser editing experience.

Funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation, we have joined forces with Richard Fairhurst, the author of OpenStreetMap’s current web-based editor Potlatch 2. Earlier this week, the Alpha 1 version of iD was released. iD is entirely developed in the open: visit ideditor.com to learn how to test drive iD or contribute to its development.

Screenshot of site

Developing iD

OpenStreetMap is one of the world’s premier open data repositories. An army of volunteer contributors ranging from individual mappers to commercial companies creates and maintains a worldwide map that rivals commercial competitors. OpenStreetMap is also the foundation for MapBox Streets, which covers the entire world down to the street level. iD aims to be an intuitive, usable, and straightforward tool to edit OpenStreetMap features as diverse as roads, buildings, water bodies and bus lanes. iD’s main focus is to provide a safe and intuitive first-time editing experience to a diverse group of OpenStreetMap users.

We’re accomplishing this goal by building an interface that does a small number of things in a streamlined manner and provides subtle guidance to users from the moment they first open the editor to when they’re ready to save their first change to OpenStreetMap through a more context-aware user interface, custom icons, and helpful tooltips.

Another way we’re making iD accessible is by building it as a JavaScript-based in-browser tool. That means it’s fast, has no Adobe Flash dependency, and can eventually be used on mobile devices.

This week’s Alpha 1 milestone brings refined design, improved performance, and new features. Here are some of the highlights.

We’ve written a fast, effective labeling engine that makes it easier to identify misspellings and unnamed roads:


Multipolygon relations, a complex part of the OpenStreetMap data model, are now displayed accurately and can be edited with iD:

Multipolygon relations

And we’re experimenting with a new and friendly interface for operations like joining, splitting, and deleting map features:

Operations UI

This is just the beginning. Our plans for future releases include a presets system that will allow users to add and modify features without needing to become an expert on OSM’s tagging system, a translation system for internationalization, and improved documentation. We’ll also continuously iterate on the existing functionality.

Head over to ideditor.com for a test drive and give us feedback. To follow the MapBox team’s day-to-day work on iD, check out our OSM development blog.

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