3D Print at WhereCamp 2015

At WhereCamp 2015 we presented a little special about 3d printing.
Of course it was all about map data.

It's not an all new idea, but we made it distinctive by allowing people to select OpenStreetMap data right in OSM Buildings, go to a few subsequent steps and take their printed result home.

To keep this as fast as possible, selectable areas were limited to 200x200 meters and print size was limited to 30x30 mm.

Whole setup turned out to work pretty well.
During the day majority of attendees showed up and asked many questions.
At this point, many thanks to the nice people from http://3d-button.com for operating the printer and handling the data.

From all the feedback and despite some prints gone wrong, this was a great success.

Technical Background

Key to make the whole presentation possible was the API from 3D-button.com.
With that, I was able to programmatically upload STL files.

After I got it working, I had to create a conversion process from OSM data to triangles and then to STL.
It's worth noting that this process will be available as a public OSM-to-3DPrint API soon.

Also I created an easy to use selection mechanism for OSM Buildings (Menu -> 3D Print)

Finally all got wired and a lot of test prints and fine tuning has been done.

The result you see here is the very last print at WhereCamp. After gaining more and more experience in selecting suitable data, proper print material, data handling etc. we found this an optimum.

Find the slides of my talk about the project here.


Berlins neue Skyline

I'm happy about all the feedback about the visualization project Berlins neue Skyline.
It's time to give you more insight into the work.

Morgenpost Interactive Team

The team with Julius Tröger, Moritz Klack, Christopher Möller approached me the with initial ideas early 2015. They did 3d visualizations in the past but wanted to go for something more advanced. Read more about their work here and here.

I had René Schulz supporting me in 3D modelling and data conversion aspects.

Data conversion

As a surprise an official city model of entire Berlin was published in summer 2015. Along with a lesser known HD model of the city center - the one we used. We were also very lucky for administration's special support and their last minute update for 2015.

The key for all our work was to get the data converted the right way. We read the CAD files into Sketchup and exported all relevant information to OBJ format as OSM Buildings has support for it.

This transformation brought 770 MB down to 400 MB. Not bad but not acceptable to present this to users. Several attempts to slice, compress and reformat the solution came in flavor of GeoJSON.

Now every building part, roof, dome, column, facade detail became an individual extruded feature rather that a triangle collection. Besides few visual impact, size reduction was now at jaw dropping 25 MB.

The converter is now avaliable on Github.

OSM Buildings viewer

Next months Morgenpost team flooded us with ideas. While almost driving us crazy, I'm very grateful as this pushed OSM Buildings massively forward and gave us a lot of insight into customer requirements.

Few special features are:

  • a transform method to place HTML labels at seemingly correct 3d position
  • methods to selectively show and hide objects
  • animated growing of buildings on load
  • handling of very large OBJ and GeoJSON files

Special thanks to Robert Buchholz (osmstreetview, flatmat.ch) as he fixed excessive tile loading by introducing a proper bounding area calculation.

For your ideas, data, support get in touch!


AddisMap is using OSM Buildings

AddisMap.com is an Ethiopia-based city guide for Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Since the relaunch of the website in December 2014, it also shows 3D buildings, based on OSMBuildings. 

The team of B.A.M.E. PLC is continuously working on improving the OpenStreetMap data for the country, also including 3D building data.  


Talk: Berlin Large Scale 3D Mapping for Robots Meetup

Few hours ago I gave a short introduction to OSM Buildings at Berlin Large Scale 3D Mapping for Robot Meetup.

We've presented our fields of interest and identified a few topics for next meetups.
Most likely we will deal with data processing, legal aspects and capturing via drones outdoors. There's good chance to collaborate with MaptimeBER in a flight session at former Berlin Tempelhof Airport.

I was impressed by high skill and experience level of all participants and I'm happy everyone was interested in OSM Buildings. It would be a very interesting application to offload and visualize automatically captured 3D data.

See you next time.

Demo Video



German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reporting about MakeCity Festival Berlin

MakeCity Festival takes place from June 11th to 28th in Berlin.
There are 85 talks and workshops about urban planning and architecture.

One project mentioned there is BuergerBautStadt.de which supports citiciens paticipation in planning and change processes.

We are very happy the project has chosen OSM Buildings for visualizing its geometry.


Integration of OpenWebGIS with “OSM Buildings” JavaScript library

OpenWebGIS is the new open web GIS - Geographic Information System. It is a free and open source project. You can use the extensive mathematical functionality to calculate and analyze your data, you even can create real 3D map. Using OpenWebGIS, you will get online GIS at your disposal, it may be similar in functionality to some desktop GIS. You can get some ideas of the OpenWebGIS possibilities, if you read the articles from this list: http://openwebgis.livejournal.com/10393.html. And you can also view this list of videos.  In OpenWebGIS an interesting and remarkable “OSM Buildings” JavaScript library for visualizing OpenStreetMaps building geometry on interactive maps has been integrated.
In order to add the “OSM Buildings” Layer on the map you must first click on the button:
in the upper right corner of the map. This button has the title: "OSM Buildings. Click for visualizing OpenStreetMaps building geometry …". After that in the list of layers on the left of the map there will be the new  “OSM Buildings” layer. See the Figure 1 to get more information.

Figure 1.


Talk: State of the Map US 2015

I gave a talk "3 years of OSM Buildings" at State of the Map US conference June 2015 at United Nations Head Quarters in New York City. That's a lot of big names and it was even more visitors with big names. I'll write anther post about my impressions.

But first the talk, recorded and uploaded by the great organizing team.

Talk video, all in one.

Demo video, shown during the talk.

Slides as PDF, shown during the talk


Product designer René Schulz supporting OSM Buildings

René Schulz is supporting OSM Buildings in modelling high definition 3D architectural objects. He is a CAD product designer in with strong technical background.

René will also take care for geometry simplification, georeferencing and data conversion. Optimized models will be integrated into OSM Buildings to be used for everyone. He will also create rendering imagery for various presentations.

One tool of choice is Creo Elements / Direct Modeling Express as it creates very precise technical constructions.

Further processing is carried out with Blender, 3ds Max, Meshmixer and SketchUp.


Attending State of the Map US 2015

I'll be attending the annual State of the Map conference in New York City from June 6th to 8th. Venue is going to be United Nations Head Quarters with some chance to enter the General Assembly Hall. You know that room (as seen on TV).

Attending is not exactly the thing, I'll be also giving a talk there on June 6th. I'm very proud my application got accepted and I got a spot on that great schedule.

There will be an intro to OSM Buildings and its current state. Preparations are not finished yet as there is so much to say. One of my best talks about the project happened with surprisingly little preparation. It's perhaps a good aproach to have a talk with you rather that to you. On the other hand considering about 650 registrations as of today, it's a bold idea. But we are a community.

I'd love to meet many Followers from abroad there. There is only little chance to visit U.S. soon again. Until now I've never crossed oceans and I'm also funding every aspect myself.

Now it's time to meet in person. I expect a lot of inspiration for OSM Buildings future, I'll fight for more joint forces on OSM in 3D and I'm asking for support to make that happen.

I'm in NYC for 3 more days so there's time for sight seeing. Any locals, get in touch please.

When starting OSM Buildings Summer 2012 I never ever expected to get that far.

See you in a few days!

OSM Buildings mission patch (prototype)


Blog opening

Hello people,

Finally OSM Buildings is getting its long deserved blog.
No worries, posts will be rather short.

Twitter account (@osmbuildings) is live and vivid since years now but there are some stories that need more background. Long considered, finally arrived. Here it is.