Data, Maps, Usability, and Performance

Exploring MapBox Tile Maps and Data

Last updated on July 26, 2013 in Development

MapBox Hacking

MapBox is amazing. I love looking around at all their tile maps, examples, and browsing through various geographical data visualizations. I also like how their solutions works, their API, and other things like TileMill and Wax, so this post is going to explore some interesting vector tiles from MapBox and various interesting maps.

Let’s start with a quick demo I put together that explores various MapBox tiles. All of them show New Your City but you can zoom out to explore how these tiles and maps look on a world level. If you open up the console and look at the network tab, you can see a JSON file being retrieved for each of these tile sets. The comic looking map (examples.bc17bb2a), for example, loads the following JSON file. It gives you some information about the tile set like the URLs for tiles that you could use to load these tiles in other slippy maps like LeafLet or OpenLayers.

If you take a look at the JSON file for the Natural Earth map, it actually gives you a download url where you can download the whole tile set in MBtiles format. After downloading, you could use tilestream, tilestache, or even a php tile server to serve these tiles from your own servers.

Consider the MapBox Streets Example and it’s JSON file. Here you get a URL to a geocode service:{query}.jsonp

What happens when you start running queries on that? Check out the results for this geocode request for the country Spain:

The result gives you country geo bounds and population. How about a city like San Diego?

Now you get a bunch of results, as San Diego is a city in multiple countries, and you get a response with the same information for not only the city, but the state/province it belongs to and the country. It’s pretty awesome. How about some interesting maps with data and map collections by various people and companies:

Interesting MapBox Maps

I also like my UNESCO World Heritage Sites Map but instead of listing these maps one by one, check out these map collections:

Great MapBox Map Collections

Ok, I’m done. Hope this helps someone and thanks MapBox for the great stuff!

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