osmplotr tutorial

for v0.2.3


Stable version from CRAN


Development version from GitHub

if (!require("devtools")) install.packages("devtools")



A map can be generated using the following simple steps:

  1. Specify the bounding box for the desired region
bbox <- get_bbox(c(-0.13, 51.50, -0.11, 51.52))
  1. Download the desired data---in this case, all building perimeters.
dat_B <- extract_osm_objects(key='building', bbox=bbox)
  1. Initiate an osm_basemap with desired background (bg) colour
map <- osm_basemap(bbox = bbox, bg = 'gray20')
  1. Add desired plotting objects in the desired colour.
map <- add_osm_objects(map, dat_B, col = 'gray40')
  1. Print the map

The function print_osm_map creates a graphics device that is scaled to the bounding box of the map. Note also that osmplotr maps contain no margins and fill the entire plot area. Additional capabilities of osmplotr are described in the following sections, beginning with downloading and extraction of data.

Downloading Data

The main function for downloading OSM data from the overpass API is extract_osm_objects. Data of a particular type can be extracted by passing the appropriate OSM key, as in the above example:

bbox <- get_bbox (c(-0.13,51.51,-0.11,51.52))
dat_B <- extract_osm_objects(key='building', bbox=bbox)
dat_H <- extract_osm_objects(key='highway', bbox=bbox)

These objects are of appropriate Spatial classes:

class(dat_B); class(dat_H)
#> [1] "SpatialPolygonsDataFrame"
#> attr(,"package")
#> [1] "sp"
#> [1] "SpatialLinesDataFrame"
#> attr(,"package")
#> [1] "sp"

The SpatialPolygonsDataFrame and SpatialLinesDataFrame of London buildings and highways respectively contain

length(dat_B); length(dat_H)
#> [1] 2178
#> [1] 2139

... 2,178 building polygons and 2,139 highway lines. extract_osm_objects also accepts key-value pairs which are passed to the overpass API :

dat_T <- extract_osm_objects(key = 'natural', value = 'tree', bbox = bbox)

Trees are located by single coordinates and are thus SpatialPoints:

class(dat_T); length(dat_T)
#> [1] "SpatialPointsDataFrame"
#> attr(,"package")
#> [1] "sp"
#> [1] 1310


Negation can be specified by pre-pending ! to the value argument so that, for example, all natural objects that are not trees can be extracted with

dat_NT <- extract_osm_objects (key='natural', value='!tree', bbox=bbox)

london$dat_H contains all non-primary highways, and was extracted with,

dat_H <- extract_osm_objects (key='highway', value='!primary', bbox=bbox)

Additional key-value pairs

Any number of key-value pairs may be passed to extract_osm_objects. For example, a named building can be extracted with

extra_pairs <- c ('name', 'Royal.Festival.Hall')
dat <- extract_osm_objects (key='building', extra_pairs=extra_pairs,

This data is stored in london$dat_RFH. Note that periods or dots are used for whitespace, and in fact symbolise (in grep terms) any character whatsoever. The polygon of a building at a particular street address can be extracted with

extra_pairs <- list (c ('addr:street', 'Stamford.St'),
                     c ('addr:housenumber', '150'))
dat <- extract_osm_objects (key='building', extra_pairs=extra_pairs,

This data is stored as london$dat_ST. Note that addresses generally require combining both addr:street with addr:housenumber.

Downloading with osm_structures and make_osm_map

The functions osm_structures and make_osm_map aid both downloading multiple OSM data types and plotting (with the latter described below). osm_structures returns a data.frame of OSM structure types, associated key-value pairs, unique suffices which may be appended to data structures for storage purposes, and suggested colours. Passing this list to make_osm_map will return a list of the requested OSM data items, named through combining the dat_prefix specified in make_osm_map and the suffices specified in osm_structures.

#>     structure      key value suffix      cols
#> 1    building building           BU #646464FF
#> 2     amenity  amenity            A #787878FF
#> 3    waterway waterway            W #646478FF
#> 4       grass  landuse grass      G #64A064FF
#> 5     natural  natural            N #647864FF
#> 6        park  leisure  park      P #647864FF
#> 7     highway  highway            H #000000FF
#> 8    boundary boundary           BO #C8C8C8FF
#> 9        tree  natural  tree      T #64A064FF
#> 10 background                          gray20

Many structures are identified by keys only, in which cases the values are empty strings.

#> [1] ""      ""      ""      "grass"

The last row of osm_structures exists only to define the background colour of the map, as explained below (3.3. Automating map production).

The suffices include as many letters as are necessary to represent all unique structure names. make_osm_map returns a list of two components:

  1. osm_data containing the data objects passed in the osm_structures argument. Any existing osm_data may also be submitted to make_osm_map, in which case any objects not present in the submitted data will be appended to the returned version. If osm_data is not submitted, all objects in osm_structures will be downloaded and returned.
  2. map containing the ggplot2 map objects with layers overlaid according to the sequence and colour schemes specified in osm_structures

The data specified in osm_structures can then be downloaded simply by calling:

dat <- make_osm_map(structures=osm_structures (), bbox=bbox)
#> [1] "osm_data" "map"
sapply(dat, class)
#> $osm_data
#> [1] "list"
#> $map
#> [1] "gg"     "ggplot"
#> [1] "dat_BU" "dat_A"  "dat_W"  "dat_G"  "dat_N"  "dat_P"  "dat_H"  "dat_BO"
#> [9] "dat_T"

The requested data are contained in dat$osm_data. A list of desired structures can also be passed to this function, for example,

osm_structures(structures = c('building', 'highway'))
#>    structure      key value suffix      cols
#> 1   building building            B #646464FF
#> 2    highway  highway            H #000000FF
#> 3 background                          gray20

Passing this to make_osm_map will download only these two structures. Finally, note that the example of,

osm_structures(structures = 'grass')
#>    structure     key value suffix      cols
#> 1      grass landuse grass      G #64A064FF
#> 2 background                         gray20

demonstrates that osm_structures converts a number of common keys to OSM-appropriate key-value pairs.

Producing maps

Maps will generally contain multiple kinds of OSM data, for example,

dat_B <- extract_osm_objects(key='building', bbox=bbox)
dat_H <- extract_osm_objects(key='highway', bbox=bbox)
dat_T <- extract_osm_objects(key='natural', value='tree', bbox=bbox)

As illustrated above, plotting maps requires first making a basemap with a specified background colour. Portions of maps can also be plotted by creating a basemap with a smaller bounding box.

bbox_small <- get_bbox(c(-0.13,51.51,-0.11,51.52))
map <- osm_basemap(bbox=bbox_small, bg='gray20')
map <- add_osm_objects(map, dat_H, col='gray70')
map <- add_osm_objects(map, dat_B, col='gray40')

map is then a ggplot2 which may be viewed simply by passing it to print_osm_map:


Other graphical parameters can also be passed to add_osm_objects, such as border colours or line widths and types. For example,

map <- osm_basemap(bbox=bbox_small, bg='gray20')
map <- add_osm_objects(map, dat_B, col='gray40', border='orange', size=0.2)

Saving Maps

The function print_osm_map() can be used to print either to on-screen graphical devices or to graphics files (see, for example, ?png for a list of possible graphics devices). Sizes and resolutions of devices may be specified with the appropriate parameters. Device dimensions are scaled by default to the proportions of the bounding box (although this can be over-ridden).

A screen-based device simply requires


while examples of writing higher resolution versions to files include:

print_osm_map(map, filename="map.png", width=10, units="in", dpi=72)
print_osm_map(map, filename="map.eps", width=1000, units="px", dpi=72)
print_osm_map(map, filename="map", device="jpeg", width=10, units="cm")


Mark Padgham (2016). osmplotr: Customisable Images of OpenStreetMap Data. R package version 0.2.3 https://cran.rstudio.com/package=osmplotr

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