Why Openstreetmap as a product fails to compete with Google Maps – part 1/3

This page summarizes the projects mentioned and recommended in the original post on news.ycombinator.com

Our great sponsors
  • SonarQube - Static code analysis for 29 languages.
  • Scout APM - Less time debugging, more time building
  • SaaSHub - Software Alternatives and Reviews
  • osmscout-server

    Maps server providing tiles, geocoder, and router

    There is the OSM Scout Server project, that makes it possible to download various OSM based data packs for offline use:


    Then it provides various services (routing, PoI search, geocoding, etc.) over this data set to all applications running locally on your machine. It targets mainly various mobile Linux distros but works perfectly fine on desktop as well and is available in flatpak form.

    Like this all navigation and mapping can share the same data set and no potentially sensitive location related metadata is leaked to a remote server other than what data packs have been initially downloaded.

    Also the community run infrastructure just needs to be able to store and store and distribute the ~150 GB of data packs covering Earth but does not need to have any extensive compute and memory requirements to handle lots expensive of individual API queries.

  • osmand_map_creation

    OSM data + open address data compiled for use in OSMAnd

    Update: Just found this.


    It seems to have full coverage in my city, and drastically improves address coverage in the US

  • SonarQube

    Static code analysis for 29 languages.. Your projects are multi-language. So is SonarQube analysis. Find Bugs, Vulnerabilities, Security Hotspots, and Code Smells so you can release quality code every time. Get started analyzing your projects today for free.

  • eraser-map

    Privacy-focused mapping application for Android

    (Former Mapzen employee here).

    I _think_ you're talking about Eraser Map(https://github.com/mapzen/eraser-map) right?

    It was awesome! It's the closest I know of to "Google Maps, but open source and based on open data". It was an app built for _end users_, not OSM editors. And it worked pretty darn well. When it didn't, any problems could (at least theoretically) be addressed with improvements to OSM data or the Mapzen open-source projects.

    There was a team of at least two people working on it full time, plus lots of work on the design, product, and integration with geocoding, routing, transit etc. The multi-modal (switching from walking to transit to car, etc) transit directions were particularly awesome.

    I used it as my daily driver for much of my navigation around NYC, and as time went on only had to fall back to Google Maps maybe 25% of the time, usually for missing POI data.

    Unfortunately I think it's one of the few Mapzen projects that hasn't seen new life after the company shut down, and like you said it would take quite a bit of work (read: money) to keep it going. It might be possible with some work to find grant money through a couple organizations. The OSMF has done some awesome work lately with the micro-grants, but this would definitely be a level we haven't seen (yet).

  • I've once spoken to an OSM "evangelist" and he really struggled to get this point.

    In a way I got his point the OSM model can virtually store anything so it's the data provider burden to develop a glue code to interact with OSM.

    However because of potential vandalism or sheer goofiness objects and ids can potentially break at anytime so writing glue code is actually not trivial.

    Maybe a half way solution would be to promote generic glue code framework. I've heard about this project by a french local authority that help sync back data from OSM to your own database. Dunno if other similar projects exists.


  • fdroiddata

    Come on, this has nothing to do with it being open source, rather the contrary.

    The same thing could happen (and has) with proprietary software, and you are then out of luck.

    With open source? Use the last known good version, fix wat you need to, even if you are the only one person on earth interested in that piece of software. Maintain it. Or just find someone else who is doing it (that's a "fork").

    I've stopped using a lot of proprietary software and apps due to this, though examples are fading from my memory. On Android, I think I can name at least ES file explorer and Touchpal that went down the Adware hole.

    Nowadays I only use FLOSS. Not even GAPPS. OSMAnd is pretty nice and featurefull, it suits me as a maps power user, but it can be a bit daunting. There used to be a maps.me fork on F-Droid, but it was recently removed: https://gitlab.com/fdroid/fdroiddata/-/merge_requests/7951/d...

    Looks like the maps.me community is reorganizing, and hopefully it will re-emerge stronger and more resilient that it was before. Also, lessons learned with this might be useful to other projects.

    > And who knows when the currently best fork will get taken over by the next wallet software huckster?

    This is the reason why you should pick a project with strong guarantees: https://www.debian.org/intro/why_debian leads to https://www.debian.org/devel/constitution

  • openstreetmap-tile-server

    Docker file for a minimal effort OpenStreetMap tile server

    I think an easy to setup self-hosted vector/tile server could help increase adoption. I'am currently looking into replacing Mapbox with a self hosted solution. My last attempt ran out of disk space building the docker images (with european maps) from https://github.com/Overv/openstreetmap-tile-server. Haven't found the time to setup a larger VPS but this looks like a great project to get started.

  • omim

    🗺️ MAPS.ME — Offline OpenStreetMap maps for iOS and Android

    1) it is open source with at least Android app published under Apache-2.0 License ( https://github.com/mapsme/omim is still up)

    2) commercial entity often develop open source software, this dychotomy is false

    3) mapy.cz is strictly superior for hiking, and for most of foot navigation (at least in my opinion)

  • Scout APM

    Less time debugging, more time building. Scout APM allows you to find and fix performance issues with no hassle. Now with error monitoring and external services monitoring, Scout is a developer's best friend when it comes to application development.

  • vtm

    OpenGL vector map library - running on Android, iOS, Desktop and browser. (by mapsforge)

    for an example. It's perfectly smooth. The application is closed source but the underlying renderer (VTM) is LGPL3. The renderer, https://github.com/mapsforge/vtm, is basically an OpenGL alternative for the mapsforge offline maps format and maintained by the same guy (the original mapsforge renderer is arguably a bit slow, struggling to hide its slowness behind cached tile bitmaps).

  • appledata

    Apple has an active team editing OpenStreetMap and their maps use OSM data in many countries. I see them making edits in my country regularly (they tag changesets with “#adt” so they’re quite visible). More info on the OSM wiki and their GitHub repo:



NOTE: The number of mentions on this list indicates mentions on common posts plus user suggested alternatives. Hence, a higher number means a more popular project.

Suggest a related project

Related posts