Victor Vyalichkin: “Freedom, equality, fraternity are only in OpenStreetMap, where everything is always in sight”

Victor Vyalichkin (Rainbow Fox) is a software engineer from Tula who loves walking in the country and popular science literature. He joined the OpenStreetMap project just six months ago, but he already managed to become the first cartographer of his hometown. Why does he map every day, how does he collect data for OSM and what is the best way to switch to JOSM - he told all this in an interview.

- How did you find out about OpenStreetMap?

- For the first time, I learned about this project several years ago, when my colleague, explaining to me where we should meet with him, dropped the link not to Yandex.Maps or Google.Maps, but to OSM. I remember that at that time I was still surprised that I did not know anything about this card. I looked at what my hometown looks like in OSM, and this is where the interest in it faded away. But at the beginning of this year, when I was far from home, for some reason I again remembered OSM. This time I decided to understand it in more detail. It struck me that the villages and villages were pretty well drawn in it. I read WikiOSM and decided to make my first edit. Made. And I was fascinated by this process.

- What are you fascinated with?

- Drawing a map in OSM is a way to relieve stress and relax, but at the same time you are doing something useful and important. But I always wanted to be involved in something like that, so that my hobby would please not only me alone. When I draw a map in OSM, at the same time I combine the pleasant, useful and interesting.

- What was the first edit?

- Added some store through the online editor iD, which is on the main page of It is simple and works in a browser. In addition, when you use it, it seems that you do not need to study or read anything else - I opened the map and draw. Therefore, I worked in it for some time. Then I set myself the goal: to make at least one, albeit a small, edit a day. Most of all I liked working with POI (point of interest - a point of interest or other object marked with a point on the map). Added 3-4 POI per day, which literally came across to me along the way.

- Was it difficult to enter the project? To understand him? To study?

- The project itself is not complicated. Or am I saying this because I am a programmer? The complexity was with the documentation - it is scattered and unrelated. The project has its own Wiki , but for some reason it has poorly developed what is called cross-references in ordinary Wikipedia. Articles have to be searched through a search engine. I would like to see more connected articles within WikiOSM in the future. But if you don’t understand something or you can’t find it, you can always ask in the RU-OSM Telegram chat.

- How did you find out about the chat room?

- At some point, I saw an invitation to iD that appears after each edit. I decided to go and see what was happening there. At first I just read it. Then he began to ask and communicate.

- How do you characterize the Russian OSM community?

- It is quite hospitable and well-mannered. I was never refused help, they always gave advice and helped in resolving my issues.

- Do you use the data from OSM somehow?

- I do not apply in professional activities. But I use OSM, as probably most of the others, as a card. He especially helps out when you need to see some place outside the city: a village, village or paths in the forest.

- How much OSM can be trusted in the country?

- POIs are poorly marked, and everything else - roads, houses, paths - is most often good. It is quite possible to go, navigate and not get lost. If something is missing on the map, you can always quickly edit it.

- What applications do you use for navigation?

- OSMAnd and fork Maps.Me - Maps.

“Why did the choice fall on them?”

- There is no large selection of mobile applications that would work with cards based on OSM. These are simply the most popular. Why don't you like Maps.Me? It has a lot of advertising. Therefore, I decided to use the fork, from which it was cleaned. I tried somehow to master Galileo (now Guru Maps), but it didn’t work. Still, the intuitive interface is an important thing. In OSMAnd and Maps.Me, like its fork, it is just that - nice and convenient. Easy to figure out. Installed, opened and used. No extra effort required.

- How do your loved ones relate to your hobby?

- Good. Sometimes they even come with me to collect information “in the field” for mapping.

“What exactly did you tell them?”

- The same thing as you: it’s pretty exciting, you feel like Columbus, because every time you discover something new for yourself. All those who went to the fields with me, in the end, agreed with this statement.

- What do you like about OSM? What do not like?

- All good. For the amateur level - the card is just perfect. Every time you open it, you are amazed, how could this even happen? After all, the map is drawn by volunteers! Thousands of people from around the world took, gathered and drew a map of the planet. And they continue to do this for the 15th year in a row. In OSM, it seems to me that everything is pretty well worked out. The only technical point that confuses me a bit: why store data and GPS tracks in one database? It would be logical to separate them.

I would also have made such a page where I posted all the links and tips I needed for beginners. Because, despite the same WikiOSM, I learned about the Vovik validator from the chat. If you start reading WikiOSM, you will never know about the existence of this service, as well as the fact that JOSM has developed a wonderful set of blanks with Russian POIs, which greatly simplifies mapping.

Perhaps you should think about what else to display objects on the render map, which is posted on the official website of the project. Because now there are a lot of things there. Alas, not everyone understands that OSM is not a map, but a database. Mass user how is it arranged? He will not understand the technical side. He went in, saw that the map did not have what he needed, and left. Although it is possible that all these objects are in the database, they simply are not displayed on this particular mapostyle.

I admit, I myself did not immediately understand that OSM is not a tile on For me, it was originally a project that displays an online map on a site. After all, working through iD it seems that you are editing a picture on a site. After some time, when I was a little "cooked" in the community, I realized that this is a database that everyone can use as he wants and even make their own renderings.

By the way, JOSM helps to quickly understand this strange truth about the database. When you start working in it, you literally begin to see it. You understand that it is not tiles that are downloaded, but data. And gradually, understanding comes that OSM in fact is a point, line and relationship.

- And how do you like JOSM?

- To start working in it, you need to spend several days studying it, since it, unlike iD, is not intuitive. But as soon as you master it, as soon as you immerse yourself in it, JOSM becomes the best editor for OSM.

- What would you say to a person who thinks: to draw him in OSM or not?

- You must definitely try. If something doesn’t work the first time, don’t be afraid and continue. The first pancake is always lumpy. Someone will definitely correct your mistakes. Edits can be rolled back only in one case: if you have violated the OSM rules regarding the licensed cleanliness of the entered data. To understand tags, you need to read WikiOSM. And thoughtfully and leisurely, because not all things are obvious and logical. Didn't find an answer to your question? Post it in a forum or chat room. If OSM "drags you in", with its help you can get to know your yard, district and city better, and also help others.

- What kind of help are we talking about?

- OSM is an attempt to make a free and independent map of the planet, which does not belong to any one person, which means it is not censored. However, I would not say that the creation of this card requires some incredible efforts. You just walk down the street and celebrate what you saw. Now there are applications that allow you to make edits directly from your phone. You can go to any object (cafe, pharmacy, store, etc.), open, for example, OSMAnd and mark all the POIs in it. I like the fact that there are more and more applications that simplify mapping. The easier it is to map, the more likely it is that someone else will do it.

- censored?

- All commercial card services known to us do, first of all, not a map, but an advertising platform, because they display some objects more clearly, while others do not. How does this happen? I had such an incident in my life. I was looking for one hotel, and they stubbornly offered me another. I know the name, I know the address, but they still advise me to go there, whose owners paid for the advertisement. I am sure that everyone came across something similar, just did not pay attention. Freedom, equality, fraternity is only in OpenStreetMap, where everything is always in sight.

“I know that you made some kind of PC program that uses OSM.” Tell us about her?

- It’s called “ WhereIsMyPhoto .” The program is simple - it allows you to search for pictures on a computer, including metadata (EXIF). When I was interested in photography, I needed such a program for personal purposes. She also knows how to show the place of shooting, if there are coordinates, on a map where OSM is used as the basis. That's the whole program.

- Why did you decide to use OSM?

- Firstly, then OSM was already in my ears. Secondly, because commercial cards require money for this. Here, if you do not make too many requests - for free. Thirdly, working with the OSM database is extremely simple and straightforward. Incidentally, it was on the OSM forum that they prompted me how to do everything right. This was before I started to map. I then spontaneously stopped by and asked one question, they answered me in detail.

- Several times you noted that you go "to the fields" to collect data for OSM. Seriously?

- Yes, I walk the streets.

- Why did you choose this path? Simply, many without leaving their homes outline satellite images.

- I want everything to be done as correctly and accurately as possible. If I draw houses somewhere where I can’t come myself and look at them, I will think that they are crookedly drawn or somehow wrong, and when I can check it, I’m calm.

- How is the data collection process?

- I take pictures and make notes. For forays into the fields there is a good mobile application for Android - OSMTracker . It writes a GPS track, allows you to leave notes, it also has a cool feature - approximate accuracy, with which you can already understand at home how much you should trust the track. I can make some POIs on the go through OSMAnd. So I go and celebrate.

- How do passersby react?

- When there was an action with entrances, grandmothers peeped with great distrust. But more often than not, when you mark a POI, nobody pays attention to you. Especially in large cities. Nobody cares.

- Do you communicate with other mappers from Tula?

- Not. But this is due to the fact that almost all the main edits in Tula were made before I joined the project. Now, if there are edits from other users, they are rare and most often relate to the borders of towns and villages in the Tula region. We can say that at the moment I am the only maper in Tula.

Communication of Russian OpenStreetMap participants is in the Telegram chat room and on the forum .
There are also groups on social networks VKontakte , Facebook , but they mainly publish news.

Join OSM!

Previous interviews: Ivan aka BANO.notIT , Anton Belichkov , Elena Balashova , Ilya Zverev , Timofey Subbotin , Sergey Golubev .


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