A first look at OpenStreetMap's new directions feature
Whenever I need to go somewhere where I have never been before I look up the location on various map services available on the Internet.
I like the directions feature that most offer a lot as it helps me understand how to reach the destination.
OpenStreetMap just announced that it has added a directions feature to its main website. While services such as OSRM or Mapquest that use the data provided by OpenStreetMap have been offering direction features for some time, this was not the case for the main project website until today.
One of the reasons why the makers of OpenStreetMap decided to integrate directions on the main website is that the lack of the feature may have given some visitors a false impression.
Since directions were not provided on the main site they assumed that the mapping service did not support it.
Car is selected as the default means of transportation which you can change to bicycle or foot. Two data sets are available for each transportation type so that you can switch between them to find the better result.
As you can see on the screenshot above, some roads are not named yet and appear as unknown. This depends largely on the available data but since it is an open project, users can hit the edit button to add missing information.
This is actually another reason why directions has been added as it is a lot easier to spot places or roads that have not been named at all or named improperly. Note that you need an account to edit information on the map.
Missing information are still unfortunate for you if you just want to get directions and don't have the time to edit them manually. The way is displayed on the other hand but orientation may be difficult depending on how many "unnamed" entries are displayed to you.
Still, it is very likely that this will get better over time once users of the service start adding information to it that are missing.
To be fair, services like Google Maps do provide additional information such as public transit or flights that OpenStreetMap does not at this point in time. If you require those you won't be able to use the service for now.
Still, the integration makes sense on many levels.
Now You: Which service do you use to look up directions?Advertisement