Is there a commonly used and usually rendered way to mark a generic but important "point on a trail"? It doesn't matter what kind of point. It can be a well-known and named rock (e.g., "Peace Ledge") or tree ("Old Oak") or tiny monitoring station ("Rain Gauge 14"). The issue is that none of these are normally rendered on OSM, but they can be very important to hikers where there are no commonly rendered trail marks. A generic tag such as "Important Trail Marker" (which is always rendered on OSM) would be very helpful. Is there such a thing?

asked 24 Feb, 05:10

rugiez's gravatar image

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As far as I know, there is no such tag, and I doubt there ever will be.

What follows is my view of things, and in no way an "official" OSM standpoint.

The concept of "always rendered on OSM" is inherently ill-defined, because there are many different renderings of OSM data.

I definitely see how what you are seeking could be useful from a hiking-map point of view, and I have often wished for something similar myself. However, the OSM database must cater to all sorts of uses, not just hiking. This means that it must avoid encoding information in a way that is tied to one type of rendering, and instead try to encode what is there, on the ground, with as much detail and "generality" (is that a word?) as is reasonably possible, and leave the rest to the renderers. The way to get better hiking maps is not to tag specifically for such maps, but to work on map renderers to make better use of general data.

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answered 24 Feb, 08:10

turepalsson's gravatar image

accept rate: 27%

As others have pointed out there are many different renderings out there and those more oriented towards hiking (e.g. OpenAndroMaps) render more of the objects you describe. Let me also point out a couple of useful features you might be able to map instead of the one you originally thought of and which might be more commonly rendered:

place=locality: for a named, unpopulated place
information=trail_blaze or =route_marker

There is also a Hiking page in the wiki with an abundance of hiking related features to map.

Please also keep in mind that many features might not be rendered but they may still be found in a search as long as they carry a name tag.

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answered 24 Feb, 12:32

TZorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

  1. Can you explain how natural=tree and natural=rock aren't rendering for you? I suppose only man_made=monitoring_station will have less support across all applications.
  2. In the past, landmark=yes had been discussed as a general tag for landmarks viewed from maritime. For =tree, there's denotation=landmark.
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answered 24 Feb, 08:38

Kovoschiz's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

edited 24 Feb, 08:39


Example of a landmark named tree

In the "standard layer" this renders as a symbol, although without the name. In OpenAndroMaps, which is much more suited to outdoor recreation than the standard layer, it is rendered with a big green dot and the name is also displayed. So at least as far as trees are concerned, I think renderers already have sufficient information in the data.

(24 Feb, 09:09) alan_gr

I haven't checked whether tree and rock aren't rendered. They may well be, but my point was to ask whether there is a more generic landmark that stands a chance of appearing on an open street map used by by developers for apps such as "Opendooractive," "Viewranger", etc. If I understood the answers correctly, there isn't. I'm new at this and just learning that there is a difference between what's featured on Open Street Map and what's featured on maps based on Open Street Map. It seems that the denotation=landmark may come the closest to what I was looking for.

(28 Feb, 06:52) rugiez

I have mapped an actual "survey point" (man_made=survey_point), actually a "Bearing Tree," a not-terribly-uncommon method of marking boundaries in forests. I recently added natural=tree to this to see if it would render differently (it only renders in Carto at z=19 (super close-in zoom). I've also named a "famous" tree (also specifically tagged natural=tree, so it renders, I guess) at my University campus, also heavily-forested. (It is a tree where people leave a "wish paper" tied to a thread or a branch).

For a rock, especially a named or well-known rock that stands out from its immediate surroundings, you could do this, too. Our wiki for natural=rock states the tag is used "mainly as a single node element." Give it a name and see what renders! (Try z=19).

There is a wide misunderstand that OpenStreetMap is precisely a rendering of the underlying data. It's easy to make, many do, so don't feel especially befuddled. But really, OSM is a database, and might or might not render what's in the data, depending on the data, the renderer and even the version of the renderer. (Renderers evolve and change, y'know).

When you say "it doesn't matter what kind of point," yes, in OSM, it does: it must be "something" in the real world. And the kind of thing that it is will guide how it is tagged. BTW, "monitoring station" (like for river flow data) do render, too. As long as it's a "something," it's good to put it into the map. Maybe a renderer (though, only a specialized renderer, like for biking or hiking) will render what it is, like a bike "fix-it station" or a specific kind of hiking trail that describes if technical skills or equipment are needed. In short, you can't count on "always rendered on OSM," that's not quite how it works. If the data are in the map (good) AND the renderer supports that tag (key-value pair, like "tourism=viewpoint") THEN it will render (at some particular zoom-level(s)).

I hope that helps!

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answered 02 Mar, 08:14

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question asked: 24 Feb, 05:10

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