Type definition

The OST file defines how data is parsed from the OSM export files (exported from central OSM database, imported into the libosmsocut database using the Import tool).

Type definition files are also named OST files (from libosmscout typedefinition). They should end in *.ost.

If you are interested in a more detailed syntax description, please take a look at the OST.atg file, which contains (besides the actual AST building code) the EBNF.

While reading the documentation you should at the same time look into the default style supplied in the git repository (stylesheets/map.ost).


Definition of types

The OST file defines types based on some boolean expression, which looks for the existance of certain tags and look at their values.

Example: A building is something that has a tag building and where the tag value is not a boolean “false” value. In concrete the value of the building tag must not be either false, no or 0.

Order of evaluation

Types are evaluated from top to bottom. That means, that for an object the type conditions (if matching the object type) are evaluated from top to bottom until a condition matches. In this case the object is marked as having the given type and evaluation is stopped. If there is no match, the type is ignore.

Ignoring types

Normally you do not want to import everything that is in the OSM export file, but just a subset.

You might think of just not defining that time. But a better approach is to do define the type but mark is as IGNORE. The reason for this is, that objects that match this type might have other tags that may match to some other type. If you do not define the main type the object might thus mismatched with some other type.

Object type

Libosmscout know nodes, ways and areas. Normally a types is not represented as all of this types, but just a sub set (for example a road is likely most of the time a way, never a node and - dependeng on the actual type - sometimes an area.

Via the OST file you can define which representation a type has.


Libosmsocut allows the definition of features. Features signal that one or more tags exists. For example, for the tag width there exists a Width feature. Features can have values. The value normally is calculated from one or more tags.

Using the OST file, you can assign multiple features to a type. In applications using libosmscout you can later on ask which features a object based on its type has, which features actually exist on the object and request the value of these features.

Technically access to the features of an object are handled by instances of the class osmscout::FeatureValueBuffer.


The overall structure of an OSS file is as follows:


In the following sections we describe the content of each part of the OST file.


The max speed section allows you to define max speed constants together with their value.

OSM allows you to not only assign actual values to the max_speed tag but also constants like DE:rural. The max speed section allows you to give mappings to actual numerical values for these constants. The import will then exchange the constants with the matching values during import.

Section GRADES

OSM has two tags for defning the quality of a way: grade and surface.

Section TYPES

The type section consists of a number of type definitions that match tag and tag values onto types.

The overall syntax is:

Some examples:

A building is an area with a building tag, where the value of this tag is neither no, false, or 0. Building have a Name feature and a NameAlt feature and are addressable.

TYPE building
  = AREA (EXISTS "building" AND !("building" IN ["no","false","0"]))
    {Name, NameAlt}

A “million city” is a node or area with a tag place with value city, where a polutation value does exist, that has a value greater than 1.000.000. Such city has a Name and a NameAlt feature. IT also builds an administrative region and thus is be evaluated by the location index import step.

TYPE place_millioncity
  = NODE AREA ("place"=="city" AND EXISTS "population" AND "population">1000000)
    {Name, NameAlt}

A administrative boundary is either a way or area with a tag bondary with the value administrative or a releation with a additional tag type wit value boundary. It has Name, NameAlt and AdminLevel features. The relation should be handled as multipolygon relation, even if no such tag exists. Since administrative boundaries can occur on land and on sea they are no hint, that the region they cover is sea.

  TYPE boundary_administrative
    = WAY AREA ("boundary"=="administrative") OR
      RELATION ("type"=="boundary" AND "boundary"=="administrative")
      {Name, NameAlt, AdminLevel}


Besides the usual operators ==, !=, <, <=, >, >= where the left hand side always is a string containg the name of a tag, there are also the following operators


Here is a list of existing options together with their meaning:


This way or area is a traversable path and possibly routable for the given vehicles.

See: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_tags_for_routing/Access-Restrictions

If something is a path, the following features are automatically assigned:

  • Width
  • Grade
  • Bridge
  • Tunnel
  • Roundabout

If something is routable, the following features are automatically assigned:

  • Access
  • MaxSpeed

Optimize this area or way for idplaying in low zoom by reducing visible complexity


This is a way, even if the path is closed


Type should be handled as multipolygon even if type is not set to multipolygon.


The given area or node describes an administrate region that should be part of the region tree for the city/street index


The given area, way or node is a POI and should be indexed by its name in relation to the enclosing region. If something is a POI and has the feature “Name”

It automatically get the following features assigned:

  • Location
  • Address

Objects should be indexed as address It automatically get the following features assigned:

  • Location
  • Address

The given way or area should be indexed as location.


Areas of this type that “touch” each other and the same attribute values will get merged.


Ignore this type for calculation of land masses (because objects of this type can occur on sea, too, and thus have no distinguishing character).