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A system for rendering OpenStreetMap Based Topographic Maps


TopOSM runs on Linux. It may be possible to build and run it on other platforms, but I have not tested this. If you try it, please let me know.

TopOSM depends on some fairly recent software, including:

  • Mapnik (2.0) with included patches and Cairo support
  • Python (2.6)
  • GDAL (1.7)
  • PostgreSQL + PostGIS
  • ImageMagick

(later versions than those mentioned above will probably work)


Required packages will vary depending on your distribution. For Ubuntu 11.04, this list of packages may be a good start:

python-mapnik mapnik-utils gdal-bin gdal-contrib python-gdal
libgdal-dev proj libproj-dev python-pyproj python-numpy imagemagick
gcc g++ optipng subversion postgresql postgresql-contrib
postgresql-server-dev-8.4 postgis wget libxml2-dev python-libxml2
libgeos-dev libbz2-dev make htop python-cairo python-cairo-dev
osm2pgsql unzip python-pypdf libboost-all-dev libicu-dev libpng-dev
libjpeg-dev libtiff-dev libz-dev libfreetype6-dev libxml2-dev
libproj-dev libcairo-dev libcairomm-1.0-dev python-cairo-dev
libpq-dev libgdal-dev libsqlite3-dev libcurl4-gnutls-dev
libsigc++-dev libsigc++-2.0-dev ttf-sil-gentium
ttf-mscorefonts-installer "ttf-adf-*"

Set up PostgreSQL with PostGIS, see:

Build local patched Mapnik

$ git clone
$ cd mapnik
$ patch -p0 < <toposm-dir>/mapnik2_erase_patch.diff
$ python scons/ configure \
    INPUT_PLUGINS=raster,osm,gdal,shape,postgis,ogr \
$ python scons/
$ python scons/ install

If you need a more recent boost than available for your system, you can build one locally (i.e. with PREFIX=$HOME) and tell the mapnik configure step to link against that by adding:


Required data files

Configuring the Rendering Environment

Create the required directories for tiles and temp files:

$ mkdir -p temp tile

TopOSM is configured through environment variables. A template for this is included. Make a copy, modify it according to you system, and source it:

$ cp set-toposm-env.templ set-toposm-env
$ emacs set-toposm-env
$ . set-toposm-env

Import OSM data. The import will be cropped to the area specified in set-toposm-env.

$ ./import_planet geodata/osm/Planet.osm

The import script can also import OSM daily diffs (ending in .osc.gz).

Import NHD data:

$ ./import_nhd

Generate hillshade and colormaps:

$ ./prep_toposm_data

Add a shortcut for your area(s) of interest to

Generate the mapnik style files from templates:

$ ./generate_xml

(you need to do this every time you modify the styles in the templates and include directories)

Create contour tables and generate contour lines, for example:

$ ./prep_contours_table
$ ./ prep WhiteMountains

To render tiles for the specified area and zoom levels:

$ ./ render WhiteMountains 5 15

To render a PDF, use renderToPdf() in


Created by Lars Ahlzen (, with contributions from Ian Dees (hosting, rendering and troubleshooting), Phil Gold (patches and style improvements), Kevin Kenny (improved NHD rendering, misc patches), Yves Cainaud (legend), Richard Weait (shield graphics) and others.

License: GPLv2