JOSM is the ‘advanced’ OpenStreetMap editor, used by most technical users of OpenStreetMap. It is written in Java, but despite that it works reasonably well. Jokes about Java aside, JOSM is an excellent example of the type of ‘advanced’ editor that most GIS professionals would feel comfortable with* after some work understanding OSM: it has familiar interfaces for drawing lines, displaying and editing attributes, etc.
It works well on the eeepc: Java comes pre-installed, so it’s simple to get started; just download josm-latest.jar from the josm homepage and run (from a terminal) ‘java -jar josm-latest.jar’. You’ll be presented with a message that you can’t read, but it’s not really important. (The reason you can’t read it is that the message is apparently laid out with ‘fixed’ border sizes of ~350px… meaning the message only has about 100px across on the eee’s screen. “Oops.”)
First, we’ll set up the interface so it has more room for attribute values on the right hand side, by hiding the command history (Alt-O) and the selection list (Alt-E). You can bring these back at any time using the same shortcuts.
Next, we’ll download some data. The easiest way to download data for an area you’re interested in is to navigate one of the ’slippy maps’ that OpenStreetMap has: my personal preference is to use Information Freeway, since it has a full page map. To see the area I’ve been mapping in, check out Grand Cayman; you can use this URL in JOSM by copying it, then selecting “File”, “Download From OSM”.
Navigating the map once you’ve downloaded it isn’t too difficult: by default, you’re in ‘zoom’ mode, which will do a ‘rubber band zoom’ (As we call it in OpenLayers) by default. You can switch modes using hte keyboard: simply hit ’s’ (for select), ‘a’, for add, ‘d’, for delete, or ‘z’ to go back to the default ‘zoom’ mode. Moving the map can be done with Right click->Drag, and the arrow keys can also be used for navigation if you hold down ‘Control’. Zooming in and out can be done with the ’scrollwheel’, which on the Eee is the right hand side of the trackpad.
In general, the editing experience of JOSM on the eee is actually significantly better than my mac. The reason for this is simple — the Mac doesn’t have a right click, which means that navigating by dragging the map doesn’t work. Additionally, one of the ways to get information about nodes near your cursor is the middle click. On the Eee, this is as simple as tapping two fingers on the trackpad.
That said, there are some significantly lacking aspects in using JOSM on such a small screen that don’t come up on the Mac:
- Toolbar is too tall — can’t select buttons towards the bottom of the list
- Preferences dialog is too small: can’t see the ‘okay’ button, so can’t enable plugins (one of the coolest aspects of JOSM)
- Inability to resize right hand side control panels: this means that the ‘layer switcher’ panel is as tall as the tags panel, which isn’t really neccesary for me. Similarly, ‘relations’ (Which are seldom used, at least at this point) share equal play time with tags/attributes, which is somewhat unneccesary
All in all, JOSM doesn’t work out too bad on the EeePC, but the lack of plugins due to the preferences panel being ‘too tall’ is somewhat annoying, and I haven’t yet figured out how to get around it. It’s possible that installing the plugins manually will work okay, but it’s been so long since I’ve installed them from within JOSM that I don’t even know how anymore!
* Of course, many GIS professionals working with OSM are going to have a steep learning curve, due to the nature of OSM’s data model: the majority of the vectorization software (at least, the stuff that I’ve seen) works with features, whereas OSM is topological, which makes interacting with the data a very different experience.