Vector tiles

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Vector tiles are a way to deliver geographic data in small chunks to a browser or other client application. Vector tiles are similar to raster tiles, but instead of raster images, the data returned is a vector representation of the features in the tile. Some vector tile sources are clipped so that all geometry is bounded in the tiles, potentially chopping features in half. Other vector tile sources serve unclipped geometry so that a whole lake may be returned even if only a small part of it intersects the tile.

Mapbox Vector Tiles

The Mapbox Vector Tile Specification defines a file format commonly used for serving vector data (2.5D, incl. OpenStreetMap).


Note that the Operations Working Group is also working on hosting vector tiles on OSMF servers.


Main article: Tile servers


  • 2016-01-19: Mapbox Vector Tile Specification 2.1 is released
  • 2014-04-13: Mapbox Vector Tile Specification 1.0.0 is released
  • 2010-11-29: TileStache can serve clipped GeoJSON tiles to Polymaps


Some examples of OSM-based maps using vector tiles are:

See also