Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Playing with Mapbox Vector Tiles (Part 2 - Generating custom tiles)

Part 1. End-to-End experiment
Part 2. Generating custom tiles
Part 3. Using Mabox GL

On my previous post I've played around with various tools on the Mapbox vector tiles ecosystem. On this post I'm taking it further: generating my own vector tiles.

There are various options to generate vector tiles:
  • using a server that generates the vector tiles dynamically based on other data (such as PostGIS)
  • programatically generating the protobuf (rolling your own code or using existing libs)
  • using a tool that receives various inputs and outputs the corresponding vector tiles, which can then be used as shown on my previous post
Most options for these approaches are properly identified at this page: https://github.com/mapbox/awesome-vector-tiles

On this post I'm going to focus on this third option, particularly using a tool from Mapbox called Tippecanoe. I'm not an expert on any of these alternatives (I'm learning as I'm writing this post) but Tippecanoe seems incredibly robust, including a great deal of customisation options when generating the tiles.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Playing with Mapbox Vector Tiles (Part 1 - End-to-end experiment)

So, what are vector tiles?

For those that are not familiar with this approach, it provides an alternative to raster tiles where the main difference is that vector tiles provide data instead of a rendered image, although still using a similar xyz tiling structure.

This provides some benefits, such as the ability to have meta-data associated with the tile and being able to generate different presentations for the same information.

One of the problems is that there isn't an official standard for vector tiles. Regardless, with time, a particular vector tile format seems to have gained more traction than all others: the Mapbox Vector Tiles.

Mapbox has provided a consistent ecosystem around it and various providers have started to support it and, on this post, I'm going to play around with some of the existing technology around Mapbox Vector Tiles.