Version 36 (modified by techlady, 7 years ago) (diff)


Introduction to JOSM


Node: A "node" is a point.

Way: a "way" is a line connecting multiple nodes. "Way," therefore, is a general term for series of joined nodes, not just for roads or ways in reality.

Relation: A "relation" is an ordered sequence of ways and nodes, a logical container used to group elements.

Area: An "area" is a way whose ends are connected.

Tag: Tags describe what each node or way represents. Tags are organized into "keys" and "values." Keys are basically larger categories, such as "Highway" or "Land Use," while values are specific features, such as "Primary Road" or "Residential Street," and "Residential" or "Retail" land use.

If a road or track or path is curved, the curve is approximated using a number of nodes within a way, and short lines connecting them. If a way has a direction, that is useful for a number of tags, e.g. "oneway=yes" is a road which goes only in the direction the way is drawn [Could someone please explain what this sentence means?]. Other tags refer to being on the left and right of the direction of travel along the way.

Starting JOSM

JOSM is a Java program, and comes in a .jar file. If you don't know how to start it, ask someone familiar with your platform how to run a Java program. You might also want to read the install notes.

When JOSM starts, it presents you with a few messages about recent changes in JOSM. You should have a look at this page from time to time as it keeps you informed on some of the more interesting changes.

The next step is to download some data. If you have a GPX file (downloaded from your GPS receiver) for the area of interest, load it into JOSM using (File/Open). JOSM will display the area of the GPX file.

Next, add data for that area from To select the area to download, first click on the "Slippy Map" tab at the top of the screen. A map of the world appears. To move around the map and select the specific area you want to download, there are several tools: Click with the right mouse button to drag the map, use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out, and click with the left mouse button to define an area. Then, click on the green down arrow source:trunk/images/download.png to fetch the data from

An alternative is to download existing GPX points from the OSM server. In order to start this process you will need to know the latitude and longitude coordinates of the relevant area. The easiest way to do this is to use the download dialogues slippy map in the first tab. Read more on the download dialogue.

Editing in JOSM

JOSM is an offline editor which means everything you do won't be visible for anyone else until uploading it to the server. This makes it possible to experiment and repeatedly moving, tagging, adding and deleting elements without breaking anything. Subsequent actions on a single element will go into the database as a single modification when uploaded.

Adding a Node or a Way

The first step of actual editing is to add a node or way to the OSM data. You can add standalone nodes or you can add nodes to ways, especially where there is a junction between two ways or a significant change in direction of the way.

To add a node, highlight the "Node" button, either by clicking the 2nd button in the left menu bar, or by hitting the "A" key on the keyboard (the 2nd button should then be highlighted). Then, move the mouse cursor over where you want the node, over a way or over your GPS track (if you uploaded one) and left click wherever you want a node. A white dot (a selected node) should appear and a rubber-line span from that dot to the mouse cursor. If you create subsequent nodes, the earlier nodes will be shown as yellow dots.

A series of joined nodes forms a way.

Adding Tags

Ways or nodes on their own are not of much use unless they are tagged to say what they represent. The Map Features web page Map Features shows and explains all the current tags that could be used on a point or way.

The Properties Pane: The first step in adding tags is to be sure the Properties Pane is open on the right hand side of JOSM. The 8th button on the left (an icon with a wrench over a document) should be highlighted. If it is not highlighted, click the wrench button or hit "Alt+Shift+P." You will see the Properties Pane, which has three buttons: 1) a plus sign with "Add" next to it, 2) "Edit" and 3) "Delete."

To edit the properties of a node or way (such as adding a tag) in the Properties Panel, the way or node must be selected.

  1. Enter Select mode by clicking the first of the left-hand icons or hitting the "S" key.
  2. Highlight the way or point you wish to select. Click the "Add" button.
  3. A dialog box will appear, and you will be asked to select a key and a value for each tag. Type in the key/value pair that represents the tag you are creating. For example, for the key, you might type "highway," and for the value "secondary" (no quotes).
  4. Click OK. You have now tagged your way.

Uploading to OSM

If you are happy with all that you have done then you must upload your work to the OSM server. Click on the green up arrow source:trunk/images/upload.png.

JOSM will give you an overview of the elements that it is about to upload. You will be asked to provide a short text summary of your edits. This description will be saved with your data on the server and provides information, for example, for the Recent Changes list.

Click on "Upload changes" and your data will be uploaded, saved and visible to everyone else.

See Upload to OSM for further information on uploading.

Conventions in Creating Certain Types of Ways

A couple of other points about creating ways.

1) Dual-carriage ways (divided roads such as motorways, interstate highways, etc.) should be drawn as two separate parallel ways, with each carriage way being a different direction.

2) If a street is one-way (including the individual carriage ways of a dual-carriage way), that way should be drawn in the direction of travel.

3) Key-and-value tagging is case sensitive. All keys should be entered in lower case.

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