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Most of the places (cafés, restaurants and the like) I am working with on OpenStreetMap are nodes (like this one).

However I've recently seen cafés (like this one) being mapped as closed ways - more specifically as areas.

Areas seem to make sense: a café or restaurant is never a single point in space but a certain geographical area.

However, the OpenStreetMap default browser editor recommends:

  • a point (node) to "add restaurants, monuments, postboxes or other points to the map"
  • a line (way) to "add roads, streets, ways, canals or other lines to the map"

When I contribute new places to OSM, should I add a node or a way?

This is key when using the Overpass API, where nodes and ways are treated very differently.

asked 27 Sep '18, 05:46

robinmetral's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 27 Sep '18, 13:14

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦


I've changed the title to be less confusing, the term "place" is typically used for populated places and other localities, not for shops and other facilities.

(27 Sep '18, 13:15) SimonPoole ♦

It's really up to you. If you can discern the building's outline from the satellite imagery and you are willing to draw it as a closed way, feel free to use that method.

The only time this isn't a good idea is if the building contains other shops or cafes. Then the node approach is better because you can add nodes for the other POIs inside the building. As long as you're communicating the existence of the POI, be it a monument, bar, supermarket, whether one uses a node or way to show it isn't crucially important.

Some objects, like the postbox example you gave, are probably always better mapped as nodes as most of them occupy such a small space they cannot be drawn as ways.



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answered 27 Sep '18, 06:39

AlaskaDave's gravatar image

accept rate: 16%

Thanks for your reply! I'll mostly stick to nodes then :)

How about a building where there might be several shops, with each occupying a certain space (in a mall for instance). If there is a way to know approximately what the limits of each shop are, would it make sense to create new closed ways within building areas?

(27 Sep '18, 07:12) robinmetral

This is possible with Indoor Mapping and Simple Indoor Tagging. You can create individual rooms inside a building (don't use the building key for this!). However this approach is still rather uncommon and only required for very specific use cases.

(27 Sep '18, 07:46) scai ♦

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question asked: 27 Sep '18, 05:46

question was seen: 2,038 times

last updated: 27 Sep '18, 13:15

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum