Tue 14 Mar 2017 9:25PM

App Idea: Photo & Notes

R RobJN Public Seen by 422

Another app idea. This was shared at the meeting on Saturday but that doesn't mean it will go ahead. We will be picking these ideas up and working on them though :-D

See attached.


Nick Whitelegg Thu 16 Mar 2017 11:45AM

Like this idea - the whole general approach of combining simple apps for "non-techy" users to gather information, with JOSM plugins for techy users to actually use the data to enhance the map, is a good one.


Harry Wood Fri 17 Mar 2017 1:25AM

I've had dedicated notes app on my 'hack ideas' list for a while: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:Harry_Wood/hack_ideas#Notes_dedicated_app

I've also listed some existing efforts to be aware of (none of which you've got in your "review of existing tools" section yet).

I thought it could be a very simple thing to develop. (My list is mostly things I feel like I could do myself with a bit of free time) . I also think putting photos front and centre has great potential to drive up the usefulness of notes.

I see you've identified hosting photos as a challenge. Mapping photos are kind of interesting when it comes to resolution. Often they can be scaled down a lot and still be just as useful, but... just as often not e.g a lot of photos are of signs. Harder/impossible to read if we discard resolution.

Overall I like this tech idea, but... it feels weird to be presented with a big design PDF, and to be discussing this in relation to OSMUK rather than on some other OSM tech channel, but if you're talking about presenting this as a thing to seek funding for... I can see why you're doing it that way.


Gregory Marler (former Director) Sat 18 Mar 2017 2:07PM

The "Notes app" idea was a strong contender for a focus of the UK group. This one I think came from asking how to go towards the aim "Increase the quality and quantity of data about the UK in OpenStreetMap" but it might also be classed under "Improve and increase the ... toolsets ... of the OpenStreetMap community in the United Kingdom."

There's certainly no reason for people outside the UK to be excluded from contributing. If such an app was created then it would be great to present it to the wider OSM community. The "design pdf" is actually a set of slides for a talk that Rob presented at State of the Map (2013?). Nothing was created following that, but they're helpful slides/notes to have now.


Jon Harley Sun 19 Mar 2017 9:50AM

As Rob says the "big design pdf" was only for the purposes of trying to stir the OSMF into action. We're not really sure what OSM tech channel to approach, any ideas?

My experience of trying to talk to the operations WG about a speculative project in the past has been poor (several weeks just to get a reply saying they don't even document what services they run), so I guess it's all about finding just the right person, any suggestions for who to talk to about notes?


Gregory Marler (former Director) Sat 18 Mar 2017 1:55PM

For a possible implementation, one (potential) suggestion was to use the Fix My Street app which is open source. The app code is primarily Javascript & HTML to be built for PhoneGap/Cordova, but it requires an online instance of the platform code.


RobJN Sat 18 Mar 2017 9:53PM

It didn't come out of SotM. I put this together in Jan 2015 and pitched it to the OSMF groups at the time. Unfortunately it went nowhere then but I hope the OSM UK group can deliver it or something similar.

Looking forward to hearing what @spiffy and @adamhoyle come up with on the apps front.


Adam Hoyle Mon 20 Mar 2017 5:43PM

Hello All,

Sounds like a few people have had a similar idea around creating a Notes App, which gives me confidence that it's an idea worth pursuing.

I'm currently working with Jon (@spiffy) to work out the details of how we might put together a Notes app. Once we have a proposal together we'll share it here for discussion.

In the meantime, if anyone has any more comments or thoughts on any aspects of a native mobile app to capture notes, then please add them to this thread. As I say we'll share the proposal here, so there will be more opportunities to share thoughts & feedback in the future.

I have worked on many native apps, and I am up for volunteering my time to build, deploy and maintain the app. I'm equally happy to try to seek funding and/or mentor/work with someone else to put it together if that works out as a better approach.




Harry Wood Fri 28 Apr 2017 12:03PM

"any suggestions for who to talk to about notes?" Mostly my suggestion is to choose a channel which is more obviously open to the target audience worldwide.

The target audience in this case is folks who are interested in OpenStreetMap and developing apps. There are many such people, including people who have already written apps which show/manipulate notes (see my list).

dev mailing list and lesser used 'developer' forum are obvious starting points. You might kick the idea around there, see what suggestions people come up with. But I know it's not a focussed channel

An approach to the whole problem would be to examine the internals of open source apps like OSMAnd and vespucci and see what could be used. So then it might make sense to go to their development channel to put the question "What would it take to rip out all the other features leaving only the map display and notes editing features as a new app?" or to map display apps like MAPS.ME, or mapbox GL SDK. "What would it take to use your display technology as the base, and add notes features on top?". Maybe that can be the place where the discussion lives for a while at least.

There's a github organisation called "OSMlab" which is dominated by OSMUS folks, but I see our very own Firefishy is one of the admins. I'm sure they'd like it if UK folks got more involved and moved in on the act there. It already houses one of the projects I listed: https://github.com/osmlab/osm-note which I think you should look at but fair enough if you want to make different technology choices (e.g. you mentioned it should be "native" which is a reasonable choice, plus the focus on photos), but the reason I mention OSMLab is, I guess it could make sense to request to create new repo there which will come with it's own "issue" discussions, so starts be a good focussed gathering place. Better to have some code to check in first though maybe.

I guess my main point is, there is absolutely nothing UK specific about this idea (unless the idea is presented here as a thing our organisation might seek uk grant funding for), so maybe there's a better place where it's opened up to worldwide discussion?


Adam Hoyle Wed 10 May 2017 7:35PM

Hi Harry,

Thanks for your suggestions.

I've just subscribed to the dev mailing list, so let people know about the Notes App project there.

Can you point me to the developer forum please?

Using OSMlab on GitHub sounds sensible - at least to see if we can get access. I don't know Firefishy - would you be able to put me in touch, or ask about GitHub access yourself? My GitHub name is 'atomoil'

Fwiw technically I am currently thinking that if I lead the development then we'd use React Native. As there is an iOS / Android requirement we'll need a x-platform tool - I've tried most x-platform tools and have the scars to prove it, but React Native looks very promising. I'm about to use it on another project, so if that doesn't scare me off then it's top of my list. It's also the platform used by the Kort app, which looks awesome and I've been in touch with. They're solving similar challenges to us, and are much further ahead in terms of development.

I agree that there is nothing UK specific about this, except that I am experienced at mobile dev, motivated by the idea of a Notes app and I live in the UK ;-). I'm definitely no expert on where people talk about OSM, so if you can point me in the direction of other worldwide discussion places where people might be able to help in any way, then do let me know. :-)