OpenStreetMap To Give Google Maps A Run For Its Money By Launching Its New ‘iD’ Editor

Google has become the king of maps because of the technology that it has developed over the past eight years. One competitor, OpenStreetMap, has developed its own tools and built a community of map enthusiasts that now powers services like Hipmunk, Evernote and Foursquare. Today, as promised, the non-profit has released a brand new map editor, code-named “iD,” which was built from the ground up by MapBox.

The editor will allow its community, and those who have never edited a map before, to plot out roads, landmarks and everything in between. I’ve had a chance to play with the editor over the past few weeks, and it’s amazing. Google has its own community tool, dubbed Map Maker, which helps the them get into the nooks and crannies of the world that it hasn’t gotten to yet.

Now that OpenStreetMap has its own set of tools which makes map editing easy, I expect the service to ramp up the quality of its maps, making it a real alternative for apps and services looking for a service provider. Here’s what OpenStreetMap US Foundation Secretary, Alex Barth, had to say about the release of the editor:

Starting today 1 million community mappers gain access to this new editor. It radically flattens the learning curve for existing users and for the two thousand new ones OpenStreetMap adds every day. Investing in core infrastructure like this is a game changer for OpenStreetMap and legacy proprietary data companies won’t be able to keep up with the combination of top notch editing experience and openly licensed database. In short, we will get more people adding more data, faster.

Adding and changing roads in an existing map is as simple as dragging and dropping, using iD:


The editor itself is open source and built in pure JavaScript with the d3 visualization library. As MapBox has been building the tool, its had involvement from coders around the world already:

The editing tool below, which has been what OpenStreetMap has had for its community to use, was not so easy to get the hang of:


MapBox CEO, Eric Gundersen, thinks that that the iD editor will kickstart the community, which will lead to more content: “This editor is so easy to use, anyone can start mapping in minutes. This is going to increase both data quality and quantity in OpenStreetMap and that means MapBox is going to have the best map in the world.”

The “best map in the world” would mean that it surpasses both the quality and breadth of Google’s offering. That’s no small feat, but we’ve seen open source products in the past reach millions…just ask WordPress.

[Photo credit: Flickr]