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OpenStreetMap API

OpenStreetMap is the free wiki world map, an open volunteer-driven initiative to collaboratively create a map of the world, and release the map data under a free and open license.

There are actually many different APIs in and around the OpenStreetMap ecosystem. Many developers searching for an API, may actually be looking for an JavaScript web mapping library. There are a few of these to choose from including free and open source options such as leafletjs.com... These work by fetching map "tiles" from a tile server, and there are several of these to choose from too (the main OpenStreetMap server is not the only option)

Some developers may be looking for data downloads. You can download the entire planet's worth of map data from planet.openstreetmap.org... and keep in syc with community map updates, using the "diff" downloads. Or you can download smaller more manageable country-sized, or city-size "extracts" of OpenStreetMap data.

We do have a thing called the "OpenStreetMap API". This provides read and write operations on the raw map data of the OpenStreetMap database. It is actually primarily for OpenStreetMap editing software, and although any developers can create a new editor tool, this is not a small undertaking, and should be carried out with careful consultation with the OpenStreetMap community. In other words... this thing called the "OpenStreetMap API" is probably not what you're looking for!

You can use the OpenStreetMap API to download small chunks of map data, but for this purpose it's also worth checking out some other options. In particular the OverpassAPI wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Overpass_API... offers some flexible querying by tags etc, which may be useful for your app.

Whether you're wrangling raw geo-data or presenting a web-map mashup, the possibilities provided by OpenStreetMap, and by third parties within the OpenStreetMap ecosystem, offer endless potential for geo map hacking fun! If you need help with development, join the osm-dev mailing list, or other OpenStreetMap contact channels: wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Contact

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OpenStreetMap: Highlights

The free wiki world map
Data Formats
API home

OpenStreetMap: Specifications


Client Install Required

Signup and Licensing

Signup Requirements
Developer Key Required
Account Required
Commercial Licensing
Non-Commercial Lic.
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0. Our maps are NOT derived from copyrighted sources!  
Data Licensing
Usage Fees
Program Fees
Certification Program
Usage Limits
Any intensive usage should be discussed with the community first 
Terms of Service


Authentication Model
HTTP header 
SSL Support
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Vendor API Kits
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API Blog
Site Blog
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Developer Support
Contact the developer community by Mailing list or ICQ 
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Mashups, Developers & Source Code

Developers using OpenStreetMap[ Add me ]

  • bill
  • enjoyeverywhere
  • ethan
  • JamesChevalier
  • MapLarge
  • olbibigo
  • 0xEugene
  • bdefore
  • blazinec
  • KaziManzurRashid
  • osbornec
  • playmap
  • runsaturday

See all OpenStreetMap Developers

Source Code for OpenStreetMap[ Add a source code link ]

There are no source code libraries or how-to links for OpenStreetMap. If you know one why not add it?

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August 18, 2007
at 19:07
Comment by: jeffd

Thanks for the update Harry!

August 13, 2007
at 08:20
Comment by: Harry Wood

OSM API documentation has moved to here:


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