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Does the center, or the tip, of the OpenStreetMap website teardrop icon, represent the coordinate point?

I mean some websites, and Google Earth, use pushpins, but they also have cross hairs on the pushpin, so one knows they don't mean the "pin tip" at bottom, but instead the center of the entire icon, to be the exact X,Y point the icon refers to:

pushpin

So how about OpenStreetMap's icons. What kind are they?

2 Answers 2

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Teardrop tip in orange circle

Using this specially constructed URL,

https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/235666610?mlat=42.1671290&mlon=-87.8157810#map=19/42.1671290/-87.8157810

we confirm that it is indeed the tip of the (upside-down) teardrop icon that represents the coordinate point in question!

We use the orange node circle to confirm our results!

(We made the URL by using the coordinates of the node we looked up, to fill in the usual location sharing parameters one gets from the "Share" dialog on the OSM website right panel.)

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OpenStreetMap uses the same convention as Google Maps, Google Earth, Mapy.cz and Bing Maps: It's the center bottom of the marker. Marker is typically the name given to 'things' on a map denoting a specific place.

An easy way to tell this is to zoom in and out and look at which part of the marker is anchored to the map. Below is an example of a marker with an anchor more or less in the top right of the marker.

enter image description here

And here is OpenStreetMap

enter image description here

The main place you will find markers that are anchored 'differently' is 'store/branch locators', as the Google Maps API by default puts the anchor at 0, 0, so bad implementations will forget to change it.

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  • Maybe the only markers that one can be sure of without testing are circular ones like "🔴" . Jun 29, 2023 at 11:24
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    @DanJacobson For all properly implemented markers it's obvious based on the shape (it seems basically all modern solutions have standardized to the bottom center nowadays). The only cases where it's unclear is bad implementations on typically 'small' sites, and in that case a circle has just as much of a chance to be badly implemented as any other shape. Jun 29, 2023 at 14:53
  • All I know is with my above Google Earth Pro (major player in our icon methods tally here) screenshot, only when editing a placemark, are the icon-center crosshairs revealed. After one saves the edit, other users will perhaps assume that the tip of the pushpin is where we intended to point we are trying to communicate to be. Then on the other hand, from a GIS designer's point of view, who knows what crazy icon the user might be using, so just use the center of them all. Jun 30, 2023 at 12:13
  • @DanJacobson For better or worse, Google Earth for Desktop is basically abandonware by this point, and from a UX perspective I think it can be safely ignored as a product from a bygone age (just realized that my current laptop is probably my first laptop ever where I never installed Google Earth 😲). And yes, I am well aware of all the functionality that's missing in the 'up to date' web app. From a UX perspective I think the industry standardized to bottom center is because it allows the user to actually see the exact thing you're pointing to, rather than obscuring it with the icon. Jun 30, 2023 at 12:54
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    Reason why I liked this question btw was because in my very first paid job I was implementing a bunch of store/branch locators for a bunch of different companies (and some other map visualizations as well) and I got absolutely allergic to badly designed maps since then 😅 . I have only ever lived on the outskirts of the GIS 'field', but I do sometimes feel like for a long time the UX side was ignored too often (as difficult as getting the right data on a map is (I remember my first foray into translating coordinate systems), it's pointless when the user won't use/understand it (correctly). Jun 30, 2023 at 12:59

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