Using FieldPapers in JOSM

I love WalkingPapers for OpenStreetMap editing. I used it a lot in my personal mapping expeditions and during mapping parties. In fact, I think it is one of the most innovative field data collection tool in OSM. For humanitarian mapping, WalkingPapers is an effective way to collect data without the need to use a GPS device since it integrates nicely with JOSM and Potlatch1.

However, WalkingPapers ceased to be functional in the past year. It doesn’t seem to accept new scans anymore. Last year, a new service was introduced by Stamen called


It is very similar to WalkingPapers with a few more bells and whistles. While FieldPapers looks better than WalkingPapers, it lacks the integration to my OSM editing specifically with JOSM.

In trying to look for ways to solve this, I tried the following:

ImportImagePlugin in JOSM

FieldPaper scans can be downloaded as a GeoTiff image which can be loaded in any GIS software. There is plugin in JOSM that allows import of rectified image called ImportImagePlugin. Updating my JOSM and adding the ImportImagePlugin doesn’t work. There seems to be a problem downloading and compiling the geotools dependency.

So this one is a fail.

Custom imagery layer in JOSM

The next approach is to use a custom imagery layer in JOSM. FieldPapers provide a custom TMS for each paper scan. By loading Firebug, I can inspect the URL for each imagery tile.


For example the snapshot above shows a URL like this:

Using this URL as a template, I can now add a custom imagery in JOSM (The URL template is explained in detail in the Slippy map tilenames of the OSM Wiki.)

In JOSM, open the Imagery Preference and add a new imagery layer. In the Enter URL field, add the link below:

Where sl8gttnw refers to your FieldPaper scan/snapshot ID.

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 12.32.23 PM

Close the Imagery Preferences and load the custom imagery from the Imagery menu. Woot!


This is not really an elegant solution but works for now. I hope JOSM plugin developers can find time to build a new plugin based on the old WalkingPapers plugin that uses the FieldPapers imagery.

I also tried loading the custom imagery layer in Potlatch2 but can’t get it to work for now.

UPDATE 0 Tested the with iD (the newest awesomest online map editor ever yet!)
Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 7.07.12 PM

FieldPapers scans/snapshots are now able to directly edit in Potlatch/iD and JOSM, so this hack is now “useless” :).

9 responses to “Using FieldPapers in JOSM

  1. Very good post, thank you ! As I have had real difficulties so far to find out on the web how to display a fieldpaper through an OSM editor… What about Potlatch you mention at the beginning ? Good luck with your blog I keep in my favourites from now !

  2. I went through the options you listed here and in fact none of them worked for me, as I don’t think the TMS option is available anymore. However I did find success with the ImportImagePlugin, with a reasonably simple workaround.

    The geotiff that you download from Field Papers doesn’t work with the plugin because it doesn’t have a supplemental world file, or possibly because it isn’t defined as the plugin would like it to be. So while it will open in QGIS the ImportImagePlugin doesn’t like it. For me it gave the error, “Error while creating image layer: null.”

    The solution is to run a command line operation, like so (you need gdaltools):

    gdalwarp -s_srs “EPSG:3785” -t_srs “EPSG:4326” in.tif out.tif

    where in.tif is the file you get from Field Papers and out.tif is the output file you will then be able to open in JOSM with the ImportImagePlugin.

    It’s a good workaround for now, until they fix this little problem.

  3. @jeffhaack, I just tested now and the TMS I used above works in JOSM. However, I like your approach because it allows offline editing.

  4. Is this FieldPapers plugin allowing to put your scanned map as a background in JOSM ? This was the major issue when I last tested the tool in March… Do you know if such a plugin will be available through new iD editor in the future ? I would be great…

  5. Great news ! I’m gonna test it as soon as possible… Thank you maning and have a good day ! Tom.

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