Roland Olbricht

Overpass API v0.7.50

The temporal dimension


With OpenStreetMap getting more mature, it becomes more important to track changes. But to track changes is difficult for various reasons: Changeset comments can be misleading, destruction may be hidden in innocent looking changes, and the sheer amount of data prohibits a complete manual review.

For that reason Overpass API provides from version 0.7.50 on the complete history since the license change. We present the commands to access that data: One can get the results as they were at any chosen point of time in the past. One can get even a changefile of what has changed between two points in time. This is complemented by a feature to print the full geometry of a way or relation without referring explicitly to its nodes.

We explain how both together support the concept of basic OSM editing operations, how they allow to build powerful client JavaScript only websites that allow tracking of changes with arbitrary search criteria. We will discuss what remains to do to build a complete and logically consistent revert tool based on Overpass API v0.7.50.

About the author

Roland has been a mapper since. He started Overpass API in to make OSM data more accessible. He has a PhD in pure mathematics, a strong background in computer science, and a passion for high performance algorithms and transport networks. Currently he works as a computer scienst at Fraunhofer SCAI in Bonn.