The process of rendering a map generally means taking raw geospatial data and making a visual map from it. Often the word applies more specifically to the production of a raster image, or a set of raster tiles, but it can refer to the production of map outputs in vector-based formats. "3D rendering" is also possible taking map data as an input. The ability to render maps in new and interesting styles, or highlighting features of special interest, is one of the most exciting aspects having open access to geodata. Developers in and around the OpenStreetMap community have created a wide variety of software for rendering OpenStreetMap data. The data can also be converted to other data formats for use with existing rendering software.
Rendering on OpenStreetMap servers
The most obvious examples of rendering OpenStreetMap data, are those found on the openstreetmap.org homepage. Click the layer picker button on the right to switch between layers showing different rendering styles. There are several layers created using Mapnik software including the default 'Standard' layer. To understand more about the infrastructure involved in rendering and serving these tiles' map styles, see Component overview and Mapnik Rendering.
There are limitless dimensions of flexibility involved in rendering. Most rendering software supports some kind of stylesheet for controlling things like colour, line widths, text orientation, icons for points of interest, and many very subtle visual factors.
Server and command line tools
|Name||Target platforms||Target languages||License||Notes|
|Kartograph||Cross-platform||Python||AGPL||Python framework to create SVG maps. officially dead since 2016|
|Kothic||Cross-platform||Python||GPLv3||a MapCSS/0.2 python rendering engine (project is dead, last activity in 2015).|
|MapOSMatic||Cross-platform||Python||AGPLv3||Can render maps with a grid and street index. Written in Python/Django + mapnik.|
|MapSurfer.NET||Windows, Linux||C#||Proprietary||Framework for map styling and publishing (rendering, caching) geospatial data to the Web.|
|Smrender||Cross-platform||C||GPLv3||a rules-based rendering engine written in C|
|TileServer GL||Cross-platform||BSD||Tile server for raster and vector tiles.|
|TileSweep||Linux, macOS||C, JSX||MIT||Tile server with prerendering using libmapnik.|
Client-side GUI applications
|Hardware accelerated real-time rendering||.Net||Proprietary||using graphics card to render images in real-time, instead of displaying prerendered tiles|
|Kendzi3d||Java SE||BSD||Plugin for JOSM, allows viewing of edited data in 3D|
|Kosmtik||Node.js||WTFPL||CartoCSS style development tool (style preview) based on Mapnik.|
|Maperitive||Windows, macOS, Linux||Proprietary||local file (.osm, .osm.bz2 and GPX) desktop rendering application, with rendering rules defined in a text file. Generates BMP, PNG and SVG output. Not designed for high performance rendering or huge volumes of data, but easy to set up and flexible, and a good option for one-off rendering (e.g. a map of your city). It also has a tile generator, hillshading, elevation colouring and lots of other features.|
|OSM2World||Java SE||LGPL||Tool that creates 3D models from OSM data files|
|TileMill||Windows, macOS, Linux||3-clause BSD||CartoCSS editor and development tool based on Mapnik.|
|XNavigator||Java SE||GPLv2||OSM in 3D|
- Main article: Frameworks
|Name||Target platforms||Target languages||License||Notes|
|Carto Mobile SDK||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Java, Objective-C++, Swift, C#||BSD||Supports 3D city overlays, editable vector overlays and is highly customizable.|
|CartoType||Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, Unix||C++||Proprietary||Rendering and routing library|
|GLMap||iOS, Android||Objective-C, Swift, Java||Proprietary||Offline or online vector map rendered on device using OpenGL ES|
|Halcyon||Flash||ActionScript||WTFPL||Rendering library developed by Richard Fairhurst and used within Potlatch 2|
|libosmscout||Linux, macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Qt||C++, Java||LGPL||Offers simple, high-level interfaces to offline rendering and routing functionalities based on OpenStreetMap data.|
|Mapbox Android SDK||Android||Java||BSD||Displays Mapbox Vector Tiles in a slippy map using OpenGL ES|
|Mapbox iOS SDK||iOS||Objective-C, Swift, Interface Builder||BSD||Displays Mapbox Vector Tiles in a slippy map using OpenGL ES|
|Mapbox macOS SDK||macOS||Objective-C, Swift, Interface Builder, AppleScript||BSD||Displays Mapbox Vector Tiles in a slippy map using OpenGL|
|Mapbox Qt SDK||Qt||C++||BSD||Displays Mapbox Vector Tiles in a slippy map using OpenGL|
|Mapbox SceneKit SDK||iOS||Objective-C, Swift||ISC||Provides data for generating custom 3D scenes in SceneKit|
|Mapbox Unity SDK||Cross-platform||C#||Apache||Provides data for generating custom 3D scenes in Unity|
|Mapsforge||Android, Java ME||Java||LGPLv3||free and open toolbox that enables the community to easily create new OpenStreetMap-based applications. Provided tools and APIs include solutions for map rendering, route planning and navigation, POI indexing and search, map overlays and more.|
|Tangram ES||Android, iOS, Linux, macOS||C++||MIT||2D and 3D map renderer using OpenGL ES|
The following renderers are no longer maintained but are of historical interest:
- Mapweaver - Successor of mapgen.pl Perl rendering, OSM to SVG and with Inkscape to PNG or PDF, automatic map key. Supports street and POI lists, grids and coordinate overlays. Automatic extraction of desired place out of OSM file. Not running under Windows.
- Memphis – a map-rendering application and a library for OpenStreetMap written in C using eXpat, Cairo and GLib. It's licensed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License.
- Osm2pov - Tool for creating isometric maps from OSM data
- Osmarender - XSLTs which does OSM XML to SVG transformation. tiles@home was a project which uses Osmarender to create a tile set for serving a map layer alongside Mapnik's, but Osmarender can also be a good option for doing one-off renderings. SVG format allows you to do post-processing tidy up tweaks (see other options below). It was withdrawn from the main map at osm.org on 1th March 2012.
- osmbrowser – can load large areas of OSM data and render them in vector graphics.
- osmrender.pl - simple maps easily drawn with a Perl program. Uses *.osm as input.
- Pyrender – a collection of ideas, and some code in Python for various rendering server steps
- TileMill is a frontend solution to handle a user defined rendering of Mapnik. Uses the simpler CartoCSS language instead of Mapnik XML.
- VTM – cross-platform vector tile renderer developed by the OpenScienceMap project