Home > Maps > Tips

We use Open Street Maps and the related umap project to provide maps on the Curious Cat Travel Destinations Site. We believe open data and open source projects are good for society and we encourage others to use Open Maps and other open projects.

There are a few tips to make using Curious Cat Tourist Maps, and other open map projects, more useful. The user interface is pretty good, but could also be more intuitive.

In order to not clutter up the maps too much we only have some of the labels/layers displayed by default on busy maps. So we may for example not display restaurants by default and will rarely display by default things that are more likely to be of interest to digital nomads or expats (like co-working spaces, grocery stores, health care...). It is easy to change what is displaying by clicking the icon the arrow points to here:

That icon is not that obvious (I don't think) but it lets you select which "layers/labels" are show on the map. So for example as 1) where to go (destinations) 2) accommodation (lodging/hotels etc.) 3) restaurants. Anyway clicking that icon will bring up a display of what labels/layers are available and which are being displayed.

Here you see that "where to go" is being displayed an the other 2 are not (they are "greyed-out" meaning they are not displayed. In order to change what is displayed you must click the eye icon on the far left (again this user interface could be improved in my opinion). Clicking the magnifying glass on any one just zooms the map.

This shows the view after all the labels/layers are turned on. You can see in the background that more items are shown on the map.

Clicking the "browse data" button will show you a list of all the locations for the map grouped by their label/layer. The data is expanded/viewable for those labels/layers that are turned on, if they are greyed out and not listed you can click the "eye icon" and they will be shown in the list of items. This time if you click the magnifying glass icon you are taken to the map location of that item. This is useful but again the UI should be better (and likely will be at some point). It is obvious Apple an Google have more resources to improve their user interface than umap has had so far.

If you click the "more" button shown in the top image (just below the layer icon) you will then get a view with more icons you may use.

The most useful are the "gun-site" icon which puts your current gps location on the map and zooms the map in very closely. This is useful but the way it is done is not very good. The main advantage of Apple and Google maps is the real time display of the gps location on the map. This is the major drawback of open maps/umap in my use (I sometimes have to go look on those maps when I am getting confused or when I am walking along and want a running location, though this is annoying too because they are missing many of the locations I add to the Curious Cat maps). Hopefully this GPS integration will improve.

The other useful feature is to just search for a location on the map using the magnifying glass icon (again not great UI - elsewhere magnifying glass means something else...).

Anyway the other icons are
1) home - takes you to the umap home page
2) sharing - lets you get the code to embed the map on a web page (you might want to see some advice on customizing the zoom and size when embedding an open street map.
3) different ways to display the map (alternative views of the same area)
4) edit the open map data to help improve the quality of the data everyone is using (this is like editing wikipedia)
5) lets you draw lines and then get a total of the distance from the beginning to end. Again this is crude compared to what is available on Google and Apple but not something I really care about.

Curious Cat Travels
Curious Cat Travels