OpenGeofiction:Coastline maintenance

From OpenGeofiction

Maintaining coastline integrity is important because when there are gaps or mistakes in the coastline, it can create major rendering problems on the map, which look like giant "floods" or "droughts". Everyone should be careful with the natural=coastline tag. Unlike with other tags, please do not just "play with" coastline tags to experiment with "how it might look" - the map renderer handles coastline tags differently.

To protect against disruption the coastline is automatically checked a twice an hour, and only passed to the renderer if it has no errors. This check is done on each continent in turn, with the last good coastline being used for a continent when it has issues. So, a single coastline error will result in a complete continent not having its coastline updated.

Note: the coastline process does not run between 00:00 and 01:30 UTC daily.

Common issues

The OSM standard does not allow more than 2000 nodes in a coastline way (or any way, for that matter, but it's a problem most commonly seen with coastlines). The solution to the problem is simple - you just "split" the way into two ways, connect end-to-end. This is a single step in JOSM. If you start with a single coastline way, you can select an individual node and then use the "split way" feature (keyboard shortcut "P"). Done!

Coastlines must be in the counter-clockwise direction, with land on the left side of the way.

Large lakes must not be tagged tagged with natural=coastline, instead use natural=water / water=lake, either as a simple closed way or as a multipolygon relation.

Always pay attention to JOSM validation errors and warnings for coastline, addressing them before uploading changes.


It can be quite difficult, however, to find the exact location of the cause of a "flooding" problem. To help with that, the following useful map overlay has been created, which displays nodes where the coastline is broken in some way:

Loading map...

You can click on a marker in that map to see more information about the related node. A full discussion of how to maintain coastlines can be found on the OpenStreetMapW.svg openstreetmap wiki. A very short summary is that nodes must be:

  • a member of exactly one such way, either as an interior point or as its combined start and end point (if the way is closed) or
  • a member of exactly two ways, where it is the start point of one and the end point of the other
  • nodes that do not meet this condition are displayed on the coastline_info map. Obviously they don't always cause a rendering problem, but in the case of major flooding you will probably find the problematic location among them.

In the case of a continent flooding, you're all - especially the more experienced users - called upon to try to fix it. Because it is important, it is justified to make an edit in another user's territory if you see a coastline problem.

Continent summary

The following table lists a summary of the coastline condition for each continent. Any error in a continent will prevent the coast being updated for that continent.

The .osm.pbf links can be loaded directly into OpenStreetMapW.svg JOSM using File/Open Location... if you have the OpenStreetMapW.svg PBF extension installed. Detailed debug from the coastline process is also available.


Continent Status #Errors Last update

OR.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:33:09 UTC
UL.osm.pbf / .db errors, using old coastline 1 2024-07-16 17:07:17 UTC
ER.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:34:59 UTC
KA.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:35:23 UTC
AN.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:35:54 UTC
PE.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:36:13 UTC
TA.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:36:29 UTC
AR.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:37:09 UTC
BG.osm.pbf / .db valid 0 2024-07-17 18:37:18 UTC
world.osm.pbf / .db in progress 0 2024-07-17 18:37:20 UTC

A Visual Summary

Here is a great graphic that summarizes OGF coastline work.

Isleño Graphic Coastline Advice.png