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News — 28 May, 2020

Tasking Manager | Behind the DevDesk with Wille Marcel

Wille is an experienced frontend engineer focused on rich web map applications and the creator the Tasking Manager frontend and the OSMCha application, a very important tool for quality control and monitoring of changes of OpenStreetMap.

What’s been the best thing about working on Tasking Manager version 4?

It’s a real pleasure and I am really grateful to be able to help organizations and individuals contribute to a better map of the world. One of the best things about working on Tasking Manager 4 is providing a better product for mappers. We have spent a lot of time improving the User Experience (UX) to ensure that there is a smooth and easy experience for all levels of mappers, but particularly those who are meeting mapping for the first time. We spent a lot of time listening to users and understanding how best we can help different users meet their mapping goals.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced while working on Tasking Manager 4?

Each of the previous versions of Tasking Manager have had different development teams working on them. This creates a challenge as it makes it difficult to understand all of the thinking behind it, and some parts of the system lacked cohesion. Our HOT Tech Team started working on it around one year ago, so we needed time to understand how it was working. More than that, we needed to evaluate how it should work for different types of users and how to improve it to achieve a better user workflow and system performance.

We also know that some of the ways things are done this time around will be different to what many users may be used to. These changes may be improvements, but for loyal users we understand changing a well established workflow can be disruptive. Therefore we needed to think about how to educate new users and support long term users making the change to a new workflow.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about the new Tasking Manager?

Definitely the new User Experience. The focus on this has made the path to contribution a pleasure. We love hearing the feedback that using the new Tasking Manager is a ‘delight’. That feedback makes it really fulfilling to work on a project like this.

What’s the one thing everyone ‘must do’ now that Tasking Manager is available? Definitely map something with iD editor. The new iD integration has made it a totally new experience to map through Tasking Manager. It has reduced barriers to getting started with mapping - not to mention no more tricky tab switching!

Can I make it two things?


The other ‘must do’ would be the mapper stats in the ‘my contributions’ page. There’s lots of new statistics and it can be a great motivator to see what you have mapped. It also shows what things you like to contribute to, which can help you decide what to map next. I really like this a lot.

What is one thing that has changed that people may not notice, but will help them with what they are doing?

People may not be used to the new names received by the task status, but it won’t take long. We have changed our approach from just naming the current status, and moved more towards motivating action. So instead of it being what the task status is, it’s now what the user can do on it. Ready, set, go!

What is one thing about Tasking Manager that only the developers would know? Can you share any personal learnings?

I think that one of the things that happened behind the scenes was witnessing the value and importance of diversity on the development team. Most people may not know the people behind this, but we have a wonderful team that is very diverse and works really well together. This means that people see things from different perspectives, but respect each other, so we can have great discussions about solving problems. This may include seeing bugs that others didn’t or coming up with solutions.

We also value the diversity of our users and testers. Being able to incorporate a range of different voices into the design and development of the products makes them better and richer for everyone who interacts with them. Thank you to all!