Hi, using the search box at the left side of the main http://www.openstreetmap.org site to check that I could find a building I named yesterday I found that I was unable to find it unless I entered the complete title.

I named it 'Sesame Lane Childcare Centre' and thought that searching for 'sesame'or 'sesame lane' would have found it. I would prefer to use the full title I chose instead of 'Sesame Lane'.

It does not seem to accept wildcards either. The 'more examples' link does not provide info on how to make such a search effective.

Is this search box very limited in it's capacity in this regard or is there something I've missed?

edit: Sesame Lane is the name of the childcare group. It is not a type of way.

asked 16 Oct '13, 02:00

nevw's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%

edited 16 Oct '13, 03:56

As far as I know Nominatim does not do partial or wildcard searches.

Technically I am sure it is feasible, although there may be some issues with parsing given that Nominatim is designed to work across multiple languages.

I suspect that such a feature has not been implemetned for two good reasons:

  • Developer time & resources. Nominatim is developed by a small pool of people who undoubtedly have along list of things to sort out. Most of these things will be with what might be considered to be core functionality. Partial search is probably not in this core. Certainly fuzzy matching is not.
  • Performance. Partial and wildcard searches are likely to impose an unsupportable load on the Nominatim server. Only some queries would be supported by indexes with the very real risk that a single query could deny the service to everyone else through requiring table scans of the base data.

In general I find the type of query you need to be met by the Nominatim using something like the following:

< amenity > near < town|place >


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answered 16 Oct '13, 11:20

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 20%

Nominatim has very limited partial search support. You'll find that searching for Sesame, North Lakes actually returns the expected object. (There are simply too many places named Sesame on this planet for an unrestricted search to work out.)

Searching for Sesame Lane, you will run into this bug. Once the bug is fixed you should get results for it, too, but don't expect miracles. SK53's answer as to why partial search works badly is spot-on.

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answered 16 Oct '13, 15:12

lonvia's gravatar image

accept rate: 40%

Thanks for those 2 informative and helpful replies.

(17 Oct '13, 02:16) nevw
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question asked: 16 Oct '13, 02:00

question was seen: 2,956 times

last updated: 17 Oct '13, 02:16

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