The Wizards of OpenStreetMap

Maps are a way to visualize spatial data. You can go on an adventure to an exotic place and tell your friends how far you had actually been and what you did there, but they won’t really get it. You take out a map and show just how far you had been and it immediately brings the lot of you on the same platform and gets them actually interested in what you have to say.

OpenStreetMap has been a large, crowd-sourced project aiming to create the most detailed maps of the world, and share it for free. A lot of times, you might find that detailed maps of your region are not available. Instead of waiting for someone to come up with good maps, you can log on to any OpenStreetMap editor out there and just edit in all that you know about your area! So the next time you visit a remote, exotic location you can actually make a map of and share it with the people of the world and claim all the bragging rights.

In this post, I will list out some of the interesting things that people have done with OpenStreetMaps, and hence the title.


MapBox is a product that allows you to create beautiful basemaps using OSM data that you can easily share with the world. MapBox is also an active promoter and contributor to OSM.  You can add markers and even use the MapBox.js JavaScript library to make your own mapping applications using MapBox. You can also use this map in your mapping applications that run on Leaflet and Modest Maps by using the Wax connector. This is a map of Liverpool, UK that I published by using one of the many styling options in MapBox.

OpenStreetMap of Liverpool, UK styled using MapBox

iD Editor

iD Editor is an OSM editor by MapBox. It is an easy to use, visual WYSIWYG editor for OSM. By far, it is the friendliest OSM editor I have come across. Moreover, it is an online service which means that you don’t have to download anything to your computer. This is a big, big advantage to get more users involved in contributing to the OSM project.


CloudMade is a veteran player when it comes to OSM. They have a lot of development toolkits to develop interesting location-based applications. CloudMade maps also provide a Style Editor, using which you can style OSM maps to your liking and publish these maps in a web application. One of the most popular products by CloudMade is the Leaflet JavaScript library, an easy to use API for quickly building slick web mapping applications.

Stamen Design

Stamen Design, a San Francisco based design and visualization company has come up with a range of stunning cartography based on OSM and other services such as MapQuest and Bing Maps. They have developed three styles for the aforementioned CloudMade maps and have their own mapping library called PolyMaps which allows user to make vector maps using SVG.

This is the ‘watercolour’ cartographic style designed by Stamen Design.


OpenStreetPosters is a project that searches for any location in the world geocoded within OSM and makes a printable poster of the map. OpenStreetPosters uses the toner style made by Stamen Design for the posters. A look at the map gallery is worth the while.

This is a map of New York, made into a printable image using OpenStreetPoster.


OSM-3D has wrapped OSM data around a globe, meaning you have an interactive globe that you can zoom in and out of and navigate through.

Metro Extracts

Metro Extracts allows you to download OSM data specific to a metro or an urban area from around the world in different file formats. They have a very impressive collection of cities around the world.

These are just some of amazing things people around the world have done with OpenStreetMaps, showing just how powerful of a project it has become.

You can find me on OpenStreetMaps as Cartofy.


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