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OSM Scout Server

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OSM Scout server can be used as a drop-in replacement for online map services providing map tiles, search, and routing. As a result, an offline operation is possible if the device has a server and map client programs installed and running.

Among other services, the server can be used to provide:

  • vector or raster tiles for other applications;
  • search for locations and free text search;
  • search for POIs next to a reference point or route;
  • calculating routes between given sequence of points;

User's guide is available at .

The server supports:

To use the server, you have to start it and configure the client to access it. An example configurations for Poor Maps, modRana, and JavaScript-based clients are provided under "example" folder. At present, WhoGo Maps, Poor Maps and modRana include plugins already in the upstream and no additional configuration is needed.

The server is written using Qt. The server can be used as a console, a Sailfish, Kirigami, or a QtQuick application. Installation instructions are given in INSTALL.


Starting from version 0.7, the server uses maps distributed via online distribution network. It is expected that the users would download, update, and, when needed, remove maps via server's GUI/CLI. This distribution model allows users to specify which components are required (libosmscout, geocoder-nlp, for example) and download only the required components.

If tinkering is required, it is still possible to import the maps manually. However, in this case, the user is expected to incorporate the manually imported maps into configuration JSON file describing that map and use specific developer options.

Maps distribution and data

Maps are hosted by Natural Language Processing Centre ( , Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic) through modRana ( data repository.

Map data from OpenStreetMap, Open Database License 1.0. Maps are converted to a suitable format from downloaded extracts and/or using polygons as provided by Geofabrik GmbH.

UK postal codes downloaded from These data contain: Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2017; Royal Mail data © Royal Mail copyright and database right 2017; National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2017.


Configuration settings are in ~/.config/osmscout-server/osmscout-server.conf and this file is initialized on the first start. For Sailfish version, add prefix harbour- to the file and directory name.

In configuration file you can specify server HTTP port and the interface. In addition, map directory with several rendering options are configured. In Sailfish, map rendering options are possible to specify through GUI.

Starting from version 0.3.0, server supports up to 100 connections. The requests are processed in parallel, as much as possible, with the number of parallel threads the same as the number of CPUs. Depending on the used backend, one operation can block other operations due to the blocking of the corresponding database. Exceeding the number of supported connections would lead to dropping the connections exceeding the limit.

General notes for developers

There are several aspects that became evident while developing and using OSM Scout Server for providing offline solution on a mobile platform, such as Sailfish OS.

Request large tiles

When requesting rendered map tiles, its advantageous to request larger tiles. Each tile is rendered with an overhead that is induced by labels located close to the borders. For example, current default settings in Mapnik backend, add 128 pixels on each side of the tile. This buffer is internally multiplied by the scale of Mapnik map, commonly set to 3. So, we have 384 pixels added on each side. If the common size of the tiles is requested (256x256), each tile triggers rendering of 1024x1024 out of which only 256x256 section is used. In other words, we use only 6.25% of the rendered data. By requesting tiles with the size 1024x1024, we bring up efficiency to 32.7%, a significant increase.

Do not use timeouts

When using the server on mobile, one has to remember that the server is not rendering tiles nor performing any other calculations while the device is asleep. The server is not keeping device awake, its a job of a client that interacts with the user and knows whether current operation is time-critical, as during navigation, or can be postponed, as when user is just browsing a map and switched off the phone. As a result, using timeouts while interacting with the server is strongly discouraged. In particular, when using timeouts and the device was put to sleep, this can cause large number of re-submissions by a client leading to failure of the server to process a long accumulated queue of requests in reasonable time. So, its recommended not to use any timeouts when using server on the device that can be put to sleep or, if the timeouts are needed, not to submit new requests after that. Since, when client and the server are operating on the same device, network failure is not expected, such timeouts are, in general, not needed.


Server provides its functionality via HTTP or D-Bus. APIs on HTTP and D-Bus cover different functionality. HTTP has been available from the beginning and D-Bus has been added starting from version 1.9. Below, HTTP API is described, followed by D-Bus API, when stated.

Default port

Default port for HTTP access is 8553 TCP and the server binds to providing services to local apps only. Binding and the port can be changed in the configuration file manually.

URL schema

Server provides access via GET and POST methods. Access to functionality is provided via path and query parts of URL. The path determines the module that is accessed with the query specifying arguments. Here, order of query elements is not important.

When using GET, set the query parameters after ? in the form variable=value and separate the parameters by &.

When using POST, path must be specified as for GET method. However, when using POST, query parameters set by URL can be mixed with the parameters specified in the posted JSON object in the form:

   "variable1": 3,
   "variable2": "value string"

POSTed JSON object keys are checked first and used, if specified, ignoring the query settings specified in URL.

In the description of the schema below, GET form is used, unless specified differently.


See examples folder for the example queries and their results. Below, just the results are referenced. For corresponding queries, see accompanying README.

Raster tiles

The server component for providing raster tiles operates using OSM convention with small extensions. URL is



{style} - style of the map, set to default if not specified

{dlight} - either 0 for night or 1 for day

{shift} - allows to change used {z} by increasing it to {z}+{shift}

{scale} - size of a tile in pixels is {scale}*256

{z}, {x}, and {y} are as in .

Addition of {scale} and {shift} allows to experiment with different tile sizes to optimize for performance and human-map interaction. Note that shift is ignored in Mapnik backend. See Poor Maps settings for example.

At present, only Mapnik backend supports different styles. When using libosmscout backend, styles parameter is ignored.

Mapbox GL vector tiles

The vector tiles, associated styles, fonts, and icons are provided via server.

Styles, sprite

For requesting styles, use


where {style} is a style name.

Fonts (glyphs) are provided via



{fontstack} - requested font stack, for example Noto Sans

{range} - requested range, for example 0-255.

In the styles, corresponding setting for glyphs is http://localhost:8553/v1/mbgl/glyphs?stack={fontstack}&range={range}.

The styles can use provided sprite with icons by specifying http://localhost:8553/v1/mbgl/sprite as a corresponding URL in style definition.


Tiles are usually assessed through styles. If you want to design a new style, for requesting tiles, use



{z}, {x}, and {y} are as in .

Location search

There are two versions of the location search query results. The only difference is in returned JSON format with the second version, in addition to returning the results, giving feedback on query parsing to the user.

Location search: version 1

The location search is accessed by the following URL:



{limit} - maximal number of search results

{query} - location and free text search

Results are returned in JSON format (example).

Location search: version 2

The location search is accessed by the following URL:


where meaning of the query parameters is the same as for the version one. However, the result includes parsing feedback when geocoder-nlp is used, see example.

List of available POI types

List of available POI types is available via


The list is given as JSON array. When using geocoder-nlp as a search backend, the list represents currently used aliases for the used tags. Shortened version of the response is given as an example.

POI search near a reference position or route

To find POIs within a given radius from a specified reference position and/or reference route, server can be accessed via /v1/guide path:



{limit} - maximal number of search results

{radius} - distance from the reference in meters

{poitype} - POI type name

{name} - Name of POI to search

{search} - a query that is run to find a reference point, the first result is used

{lng}, {lat} - longitude and latidude, respectively.

The reference route can be given only through POST JSON object in the form

  "route_lng": [longitude1, longitude2, longitude3, ...],
  "route_lat": [latitude1, latitude2, latitude3, ...]

Given POI type is considered either as an alias or imported POI type. Type comparison is done in a case-insensitive manner. POI types are formed from OSM tags in the form tag_value.

List of the current tags and aliases, as used by geocoder-nlp, is given at

In addition, POI can be searched by its name. For example, you could search for the restaurant by its name. This parameter is only supported by Geocoder-NLP backend.

It is required, that either POI type, POI name, or the type and name are specified in the query.

The reference point can be given either as a query ("Paris") or as a location coordinates. If the both forms are given in URL, location coordinates are preferred.

When reference route is given, the search is performed along the route. It can be used to find POIs along the whole route or its fraction. To search along a fraction of the reference route, the route has to be specified as well as the reference point (via search or the pair of lng, lat). With the reference point specified, the fraction is determined by finding the closest section of the route to the reference point and starting search from that section. Such search for a fraction of the route allows to specify the full route and the current position to find all POIs of interest along the remaining route, for example.

Search along the route is performed from its start (full route or fraction) and until either the number of POIs has reached the limit or the full route has been searched along. The distance returned for each POI is in this form of the search as the distance along the route till the point of the first section satisfying the specified radius to the object. As such, the returned distance can be not till the closest section of the route nor it takes into account the underlying route network required to reach POI when moving along the route. However, it should give a reasonable estimate for the distance in question.

The result is given in JSON format. It returns a JSON object with two keys: "origin" (coordinates of the reference point used in the search) and "results" (array with the POIs). See example for details.


The current protocol (version 2) is fully used by Valhalla's backend and is Valhalla's API for route call. In part, version 2 is supported, by libosmscout as well. Version 1 (v1/route) is used by libosmscout and is described in OLD_API.

Version 2: Valhalla

Routing instructions calculations are only one of the several Valhalla APIs that are exposed by OSM Scout Server. For description of the URL schema, as used by Valhalla's backend, see below in a separate section. Valhalla is a recommended backend for routing and it is expected that the most of the users will be using it.

This is the version that would be mainly supported in future. It uses Valhalla's API, as described in . Please note that there is no API key in the Valhalla's component used by OSM Scout Server.

At present, all calls via v2/route, as http://localhost:8553/v2/route?... would equivalent to Valhalla via /route?....

Version 2: libosmscout

When using libosmscout as a backend, version 2 can be used to request the routes. In this case, the server would consider limited subset of Valhalla's API. In particular, costing option would be used to select the transportation mode (auto, bicycle, or pedestrian) with the order of points found from location. The reply of the server will follow Version 1 protocol with an additional flag API version set to libosmscout V1 in the response of the server. Using this flag, the client application can determine whether version 1 protocol response has been used.

Valhalla API for routing, map matching, and other services

Valhalla is interfaced by OSM Scout Server through Valhalla's C++ API and it exposes most of Valhalla's functionality via different path components of the URL.

URL schema for Valhalla's APIs is in the form



{api_name} - name of the used API, as specified below

{json} - JSON query, as specified by the corresponding Valhalla's API.

OSM Scout Server does not impose any API key to the Valhalla's calls. The following Valhalla's APIs are supported (with the link given describing the API):

At the moment of writing (Jul 2018), elevation data is not imported in the distributed maps. The corresponding issue has been opened (

Activation URL

When its needed to start the server that has been configured for autostarting using systemd socket activation, there is a convenience access path that will not trigger any error or further action


When successful, it will return { "status": "active" } as a response.


D-Bus API is provided via service org.osm.scout.server1. At present, its used to provide map matching service for just in time navigation information. In future, D-Bus API can be extended on request.


At path /org/osm/scout/server1, interface org.osm.scout.server1, currently the following is supported:

Url string property with the URL base that can be used to generate url's for access via HTTP API. For example, by default, its

There is also an API for D-Bus activation on at the root location.

Map matching via D-Bus

D-Bus API is available only if Valhalla router is used, as configured by default.

For QML applications, there is a reference implementation that uses map matching API to provide just in time information. The implementation is available as a QML PositionSourceMapMatched type and can be easily incorporated into application without consulting OSM Scout Server API.

Map matching is provided at path /org/osm/scout/server1/mapmatching1, interface org.osm.scout.server1.mapmatching1. On presence of the service, there is a boolean property Active which equals to True.

The main interaction with the server occurs via the following method:

  • Update(int32 mode, Double latitude, Double longitude, Double accuracy) -> String. This is a method that should be called for updating the current location, given by coordinates and accuracy. Valhalla's map matching cost factor is given by mode where it can have the following values

    • 1 car, "auto" in Valhalla API
    • 2 car along shorter distance, "auto_shorter" in Valhalla API
    • 3 bicycle
    • 4 bus
    • 5 pedestrian

    By repeatedly calling Update, OSM Scout Server builds trajectory of the client and analyzes it to provide information regarding the current location. The return value is given by JSON object in a String form. Note that this object is filled only with the properties that have changed when compared to the previous call. For example, if the street name is the same as during the last call, it is not returned in the returned JSON object. The following properties are supported:

    • direction direction of motion along the matched street or path, in degrees [0,360] from true north;
    • direction_valid equals to 1 if reported direction is valid, 0 otherwise;
    • latitude matched coordinate;
    • longitude matched coordinate;
    • street_name matched street name, empty if no data is available or no match was found;
    • street_speed_assumed car speed assumed for the matched street section in meters/second, negative if no data or no match was found;
    • street_speed_limit car speed limit for the matched street section in meters/second, negative if no data or no match was found.

    On request, more data can be made available, as supported by Valhalla trace_attributes API.

Map matching is a D-Bus client specific, with each client having separate session (history of coordinates) for each of the used modes. Histories of the different clients are kept separately.

For maintaining the history, clients can call

  • Reset(int32 mode) drop the history and start a session for mode as new for the calling client.

  • Stop(int32 mode) and Stop() stop session for mode or all modes for the calling client.

See QML PositionSourceMapMatched type for example implementation of the interaction with the server, including support for automatic start of the server via systemd socket activation.


Custom icons used by the application were contributed by Fellfrosch (from


The translations were contributed by

  • Carmen F. B. @carmenfdezb: Spanish
  • Lukáš Karas @Karry: Czech
  • Åke Engelbrektson @eson57: Swedish
  • Ricardo Breitkopf @monkeyisland: German
  • Nathan Follens @pljmn: Dutch (NL and BE)
  • @Sagittarii: French
  • Oleg Artobolevsky @XOleg: Russian
  • A @atlochowski: Polish
  • Peer-Atle Motland @Pam: Norwegian Bokmål
  • Matti Lehtimäki @mal: Finnish
  • @Watchmaker: Italian

For translations, please see


Please note that libpostal is developed to be used with the fine tuned model covering the World. The country-based models were developed to use libpostal in mobile devices and have not been specifically tuned. Please submit the issues with libpostal performance on country-based models to OSM Scout Server or geocoder-nlp github projects.








GNU Libmicrohttpd:


Mapbox GL import scripts:

Hosting of maps: Natural Language Processing Centre ( , Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic) through modRana (

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