OpenMapTiles Map Server: The easiest way to deploy vector OpenStreetMap

Published on Dec 20, 2017

Less than one year ago, OpenMapTiles open-source project was announced. It simplifies the process of deploying OpenStreetMap maps significantly. However, setting up the whole software toolchain for vector tiles was an obstacle not everybody was able to pass. Today, we are tearing this barrier down by announcing OpenMapTiles Map Server, software which enables everyone to run a map server on his own infrastructure within a few minutes.

Vector tiles for the whole world in 10 minutes

Setting own map server was seen as an advanced task for skilled admin. With OpenMapTiles Map Server, you can do it with basic computer skills in less than 10 minutes.

To launch the software you can use a graphical user interface on Windows and Mac or one simple command on any Linux computer.

The main task of the OpenMapTiles Map Server is to provide you with vector map tiles, however, it covers more than that.

Backward compatibility with third-party software is important to us. Therefore, if your library, end-user device or third-party software doesn’t support vector tiles, there is a fallback mode with raster tiles. This can be used in libraries such as Leaflet or other tools. Compatibility is also ensured with WMS and WMTS protocols used in ArcGIS, QGIS, and other desktop GIS software.

Styles, schema, and languages

If you think about a map, one of the first thoughts is the appearance. By default, there is set of four free and open-source styles. However, if you want to make any change in the style, there is a visual editor where changes are immediately visible. You can also upload your own style in JSON format. Thanks to the vector technology, the tiles’ look are changing on the fly without a need for new rendering.

The cartography decisions are encoded by the Vector Tile Schema, which is fully free and open-source. It covers the selection of tags used in OpenStreetMap, some features from Natural Earth Data and other OpenData sources.

OpenMapTiles Map Server comes with built-in support for more than 50 languages. You can easily switch between them and again. The dual language option is supported, which can be useful especially in the countries where Latin is not the main script.

Fast and simple

OpenMapTiles was already a giant leap forward in making maps based on OpenStreetMap accessible to a broader audience. OpenMapTiles Map Server goes even further and with help of Docker, you can serve your own map within few minutes using minimum knowledge. It helps experienced admins to minimize their workload and allows to start serving map tiles to novices with minimal or even no administration knowledge.

For Docker installation there is basic setup available on Windows and Mac, for Linux users, there is the single command you just have to copy and paste into a terminal.

Once you install Docker, run openmaptiles-server container either from a terminal or in Kitematic GUI. It will start a web server, which is available on localhost. In the web wizard, select the area you want to display, style, and language and the map can be directly displayed on websites with JavaScript viewers, used in native mobile applications on Android and iOS (even offline), or turned into traditional raster tiles or high-resolution images for printing.

There are ready-to-use vector tiles from OpenMapTiles.com, but if you need more than just a street map, there are additional data available. You can add to your map contour lines, hillshading or additional satellite layer.

Map setup in a few steps

What is running behind?

OpenMapTiles Map Server combines OpenMapTiles open-source technology with one of the most prominent virtualization technology - Docker.

OpenMapTiles is an open-source set of tools for deployment of maps. Originally developed by Klokan Technologies and launched early this year, it undergoes heavy development by both KlokanTech employees as well as growing community. This made OpenMapTiles leading technology for creating and deploying vector tiles.

OpenMapTiles Map Server is a production-ready software package with built-in open-source components (such as memcache or TileServer GL) and it’s tailored specifically for OpenMapTiles data and simple step-by-step configuration.

Docker is a free and open-source software for virtualization on operating system level. The system of containers, simplify installation of any software and recently an intuitive GUI makes it number one choice for running separate software.

This combination creates robust, but extremely easy to deploy, solution for your own map service.

Get started using OpenMapTiles Map Server

As you can see, OpenMapTiles Map Server is powerful, but simple tool for deploying vector map tiles. It enables everyone to run his own map server on his hardware without any deep IT knowledge.

Are you ready to create your own map server? Get set by installing Docker, running openmaptiles-server and go by choosing color, languages, and area of your map!

Jiri Kozel

Full stack developer
Published on Dec 20, 2017

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