Making edits to the map of the Isle of Man

Our map of the Isle of Man is based on geographic information and maps from the OpenStreetMap project, which means that it can be updated by anyone who is interested in helping out. Perhaps you've seen a road name that's been typed incorrectly, or something that's missing from the map, and would like to see it fixed. There is always the feedback form, where we'll try to fix up anything you point out to us, but you can also jump in and make the edits yourself if you want to try it out.

It's been possible to update the map from the start, but a couple of recent improvements have made the process much simpler. The first improvement is a friendlier editor programme, accessible through your web browser on the OpenStreetMap site, and the second is point-and-click access to high resolution aerial imagery of the Isle of Man.

If you'd like to jump in and try making your first edit on OpenStreetMap (which will then show up here on automatically), just follow the steps below.

Step 1: signup
Sign up for an OpenStreetMap account. This is free, and shouldn't take long. Simply enter your email address, choose a username to identify you, and choose a password. You'll need to check your email after that to verify that you're real. You may also want to take a moment to read through some of the links in the welcome email (e.g. introductory video), as they can be a good introduction to the project. When you click to verify your email address, you get the chance to enter your location (to help other nearby mappers find you), and also a photo and brief bio if you like.

Before you leave this screen you should make the choice under Preferred Editor to use the new Potlatch 2 editor instead of the default. The new version is more user friendly and gives access to better aerial imagery as well.

Step 2: browsing to your area
Once you've got your account set up, you can browse the map (hit the view tab) to the place you're interested in - maybe try somewhere around where you live, your local shops, or around where you work. When you've found somewhere you'd like to make changes, hit the edit tab at the top of the page. Assuming you've set Potlatch 2 as your default editor, you will be taken straight to it, or otherwise you'll need to hover over the edit tab, and choose Potlatch 2 from there.

Please remember, this is a live database so don't save any test edits to the server. You can make changes without saving them if you wish to try out the functionality of the editor.

Step 3: choose your aerial imagery
In the top left corner of the editing window, click the Background button and select the Bing option. Note the Dim check box, which you can uncheck if you want to be able to see the aerial imagery in more detail.

Step 4: making your edits
On the left hand side of the screen you will see a good selection of common points of interest that we add to the map, from shopping to tourist attractions, accommodation, transport and food and drink establishments, among others. The icons are often based on what you'd see on a map, but in case it's not clear, hovering over each icon will show you what it is.

To add one of common items these to the map, you can simply drag and drop to the right place in the map pane to the right hand side. Once you've done that, you'll be given a place to enter a name (and sometimes other information) on the left hand side.

To see the details, or to be able to edit something on the map, you can simply click it and use the left hand pane.

As well as adding these simple points to the map, you can make more detailed changes, such as fixing the layout of a road (the aerial imagery we have now is a much richer source of information than we used to add these roads originally). To tweak a road, you can click the road, and move any of its points to better match the imagery. If there isn't a point where you'd like one to be, you can hold down shift while clicking a part of the road to give you a new point, which you can move to better fit the geometry of the road. To add a new road, you can simply click in each place you want to create a point, and can join it to another road by hovering over the other road and clicking it when it shows a plus symbol. To end your road, simply double-click or hit enter.

For further, more detailed information about editing the map, visit the OpenStreetMap wiki.

Step 5: saving your edits to the main database
When you are happy with your changes and would like to share them with the world, simply hit the Save button in the top right corner of the editing window and enter a short description of the changes you made so others can see at a glance what has changed.

Step 6: see your changes on the map
After a short while (this is usually somewhere between a few minutes and a couple of hours) you should be able to see your changes on and (note that you may need to force your browser to completely refresh the page in order to see the latest maps).

Creative Commons Licence
This blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License and available for re-use if you would like to use it to spread the word about the new features on Please feel free to improve upon it or customise it for your local area as well.