Area Place: footprint or fence line?

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Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby DwarfLord » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:46 pm

This is an effort to determine consensus, hopefully global (don't :lol:), on if and when to use the Area Place to delineate a building outline/footprint as opposed to the property or complex on which the building stands (the "fence line").

Before Places, the US de facto Landmark guidance did not support the mapping of building footprints. It used the words "mapped at the fence line" for all larger complexes that might include both parking and one or more buildings.

Meanwhile some other countries were more flexible about landmarking building footprints and parking separately. In the UK and Europe, especially, it is more likely that parking at large complexes is public and general-purpose; this no doubt played a role in that convention.

With the advent of Places, it is no longer necessary to create multiple landmarks in a complex to identify multiple functions, because a single Area Place can support as many categories as necessary. Meanwhile, Point Places allow marking of specific destinations within an Area Place. This change in functionality suggests to me that granting an Area Place to an individual building's footprint, separate from its parking and from neighboring buildings in the complex, no longer has any purpose besides the cosmetic utility of displaying building outlines in the client (for some visually significant structures that are not surrounded by acres of parking that might still be very nice).

However, the current worldwide Places wiki includes a guidance figure depicting a mall landmarked to its building footprint. So I am wondering if global consensus is in fact going the opposite direction, towards increased use of building-footprint Area Places. The guidance is live and editors are referring to it as an example, but more than one editor has noticed that the figure represents a departure from past US guidance.

The new capabilities of Places lead me to favor the "fence line" approach to Area Places in nearly all cases. But either way it would be extremely helpful to have clarity of consensus!
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby nzahn1 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:50 pm

Add one vote fence line...
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby AlanOfTheBerg » Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:12 pm

I prefer, generally, simplified building outlines. Fence line usually will include parking lot areas, which, soon-ish, we'll be having to map separately anyway as we get the "recommended parking for Places" feature and more. Building outlines will be more useful to drivers in coming app versions which depict places much more precisely than they do now, similar to livemap.

A large hospital complex like OHSU in Portland would be a massive large blob on the map if mapped fence line, and then other area or point places for individual buildings, clinics and offices is just too much clutter. I think Waze needs to be more precise than general fence line area places. The numbers of Places we are adding to the map makes it necessary to be more precise and granular and I feel that a blanket rule on fence line area places doesn't fit the future plan.
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby DwarfLord » Thu May 01, 2014 12:48 am

Thanks Alan. There is a lot of information in your post regarding what's coming that's news to me. Probably there is a great deal more that can't be discussed here.

It's not obvious to me that mapping every building outline in a large complex will reduce clutter compared with mapping a region outline with roads and having POI marks in it. The question also comes up of which buildings deserve footprint outlines and which buildings don't. Perhaps they all do, and we will eventually be mapping every building in downtown areas et cetera? This would have seemed farfetched to me just a few months ago...In any event I am now even more lost than I was before.
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby jdeyoung » Thu May 01, 2014 1:22 am

The primary logic in my mind for simplified areas (fence line) has more to do reducing the number of nodes to store for the area. Considering not just building outlines but user-mapped lakes and parks trying mimic every nuance of the place uses lots of nodes - good for editors looking for points but otherwise not so helpful - and that balloons the storage requirements and potentially slows client drawing performance (that's just a guess). But servers get larger capacity and clients get more powerful so that reason could be short-lived. With Point places to be much more specific about locations within a large Area place, the value of having that large Area place becomes less important as well. How important is it to know that you're still within the confines of a large hospital complex, a park, college campus etc. when what you're looking for is a specific destination?
There are times when driving in unfamiliar locations when it is nice to know you're actually nearing/adjacent to park property, but that value seems just a bit less when I know the actually mileage to my destination within a large complex where cosmetics seem far less important.
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby AlanOfTheBerg » Thu May 01, 2014 2:24 am

jdeyoung wrote:The primary logic in my mind for simplified areas (fence line) has more to do reducing the number of nodes to store for the area.

Note that I wrote "simplified outlines" which means we're not google-micro-mapping to foundation nuances. Simple, fairly blocky, rectangular in general. There's room for some detail, but generally simplified over reality.
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby sketch » Thu May 01, 2014 5:23 am

In my experience buildings would use fewer nodes than fence lines, at least for shopping malls.

I don't think "fewer nodes" is a legitimate reason to choose one editing method over another, at least not anymore. As far as I'm concerned that's a carryover from a time long past, when editing was difficult and the servers weren't really up to their tasks. Those days are gone.

Waze has been moving in the general direction of detail and accuracy. Staff sentiments seem to confirm this. A Place for every place, and so forth.
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby DwarfLord » Thu May 01, 2014 12:37 pm

From abstract towards literal, from spare towards detailed, this is a tectonic shift in the Waze meme...

A side-effect of choosing footprints instead of fence lines is loss of identification at reduced magnification. For example, in Alan's example of the OHSU hospital complex: if I zoom out a few steps it becomes invisible. Live Map shows me Lincoln High School and West Sylvan Middle School, both done to the fence line, but massive OHSU is an unlabeled scattering of tiny red dots. Is that the direction we're going for university campuses and private installations as well?

Likewise, what about shopping malls consisting of many smaller buildings, for example, the Camino Real Marketplace. Does each building get its own small Area Place instead of the overall mall complex getting its title? What do we name each building?

If we don't want to dispense with overall identities for campuses or other building clusters, does that mean we want footprint AND fenceline? Do we depend on the Waze app to render this well in the future even though it doesn't now?
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby kentsmith9 » Thu May 01, 2014 3:13 pm

sketch wrote:I don't think "fewer nodes" is a legitimate reason to choose one editing method over another, at least not anymore. As far as I'm concerned that's a carryover from a time long past, when editing was difficult and the servers weren't really up to their tasks. Those days are gone.

Waze has been moving in the general direction of detail and accuracy. Staff sentiments seem to confirm this. A Place for every place, and so forth.

I disagree that fewer nodes should not be a constant effort. We should not assume that more work is better for the servers than less work when not truly necessary. Just like energy or water conservation, it is a constant effort that should never be ignored. I'm not saying every area should only be a 4 point rectangle, but we don't need to map a node every 6 inches either.

As for increased items being mapped, I do agree with that part of your comment.
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Re: Area Place: footprint or fence line?

Postby sketch » Thu May 01, 2014 3:50 pm

Well, okay, let me tailor that a bit better. Accuracy should not be sacrificed for "efficiency".

I don't mean that we shouldn't use fewer nodes when mapping a given road or landmark or whatever, as long as it's accurate. But the decision whether to map at the fence line or the building edge shouldn't be decided based on the number of nodes. We should do whatever looks better and works better and makes more sense. We should still use only as many nodes as necessary to follow whichever line is best.
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