Address lookups with Leaflet and Nominatim

I recently wrote a patch for to add a map of an event's location to the event detail page. With the same patch, I also replaced the location part of the event edit page with a solution that uses JQuery, Leaflet as map API, OpenStreetMap tiles and Nominatim for doing address lookups. This article forms a small tutorial on how to use this same set-up yourself.

The Basics

To start, we create a new directory for our project:

mkdir addresses
cd addresses

Then I downloaded the Leaflet and jQuery libraries and extracted them in the js directory of the project:

mkdir js
curl -L -o
mv CloudMade-Leaflet-*/dist/* js
rm -rf CloudMade-Leaflet-*
curl -o js/jquery-1.8.2.min.js

As first step, we are simply going to show a map on a web page. The map is going to be full screen, and will not have any bells and whistles. The code to embed a map is small, but we will separate it into three files for clarity: a CSS file for our styles (site.css), an HTML file for the structure (index.html) and a JS file for all our JavaScript functions (js/map.js).

Let's start with the HTML file:

    <title>Leaflet and Nominatim example</title>

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="js/leaflet.css" />
    <!--[if lte IE 8]><link rel="stylesheet" href="js/" /><![endif]-->
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="site.css">

    <script src="js/leaflet.js"></script>
    <script src="js/jquery-1.8.2.min.js"></script>
    <div id="map"/>
    <script src="js/map.js"></script>

This HTML file includes the Leaflet and jQuery libraries, as well as the default CSS file that Leaflet needs. We are also including our own CSS file (site.css):

body {
  margin: 0;
div#map {
  width: 100%;
  height: 100%;

In the body of the HTML file, we place a <div> as contained for the map, and then include a JavaScript file that is responsible for embedding them map:

var map;

function load_map() {
  map = new L.Map('map', {zoomControl: false});

  var osmUrl = 'http://{s}{z}/{x}/{y}.png',
    osmAttribution = 'Map data &copy; 2012 <a href="">OpenStreetMap</a> contributors',
    osm = new L.TileLayer(osmUrl, {maxZoom: 18, attribution: osmAttribution});

  map.setView(new L.LatLng(51.538594, -0.198075), 12).addLayer(osm);

window.onload = load_map;

If you request the index.html page now through the browser, you will see something like:

Adding the Address Search

In order to add an address lookup form, we need to add more HTML. Our HTML will feature an input box (for the address), a submit button, and a place holder to show our results in. We add this code between the <div id="map"/> and the <script... tags:

<div id="search">
  <input type="text" name="addr" value="" id="addr" size="10" />
  <button type="button" onclick="addr_search();">Search</button>
  <div id="results"/>

To style this, we add the following at the end of our CSS file:

div#search {
  background-color: white;
  position: absolute;
  bottom: 40px;
  left: 40px;
  width: auto;
  height: auto;
  padding: 10px;
div#search input {
  width: 200px;
div#results {
  font-style: sans-serif;
  color: black;
  font-size: 75%;

If we reload the page in our browser, we will see something like:

Now the only thing left to do is to implement the addr_search function. In our JS file (js/map.js) we add before window.onload = load_map; the following lines (split over multiple sections in this tutorial):

function addr_search() {
  var inp = document.getElementById("addr");

  $.getJSON('' + inp.value, function(data) {

This above line uses jQuery's AJAX capabilities to request a URL, parse the JSON result and issue a callback if it worked. We query Nominatim here, with as format json and limiting the result to 5 items. Nominatim also supports other parameters, which are documented here.

var items = [];

$.each(data, function(key, val) {
    "<li><a href='#' onclick='chooseAddr(" + + ", " + val.lon + ");return false;'>" + val.display_name +

For each of the items in our result, we create an <li> element which has an <a href containing a call to a JavaScript function (chooseAddr). This function is responsible for re-centering the map according to the picked latitude and longitude.

    if (items.length != 0) {
      $('<p>', { html: "Search results:" }).appendTo('#results');
      $('<ul/>', {
        'class': 'my-new-list',
        html: items.join('')
    } else {
      $('<p>', { html: "No results found" }).appendTo('#results');

This processes the results that came back from Nominatim. If there are results, we shows those including a Search results: header, and if there are no results, we show No results found.

Then we need to add one more function, the chooseAddr function which looks like:

function chooseAddr(lat, lng, type) {
  var location = new L.LatLng(lat, lng);

  if (type == 'city' || type == 'administrative') {
  } else {

We simply use the latitude and longitude from the function invocation, and in order to make things slightly nicer we zoom in a bit less if the item type is either a city or an administrative border. As each of the returned results actually includes a full bounding box, we probably can use that to zoom in better, but I will leave that for your own experiments - you'd want the panInsideBounds() method of Leaflet's Map class for that.

In the end, if we click on the Search button, a list is presented of all our search results:

And after clicking one of the links, we see the map centered on Paris:

The code for this example is available on github in my osm-tools repository at


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Thanks man, this tutorial help me a lot! Well explained and detailed.

Nice...thanks a lot!!!

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