Vector tiles are squares of math that describe how to draw roads, buildings, water, and other bits of OpenStreetMap geometry for a particular portion of the earth. A number of browser-based display technologies can consume these vector tiles and display them as the slippy maps you know and love, including D3/SVG, HTML Canvas and WebGL. Vector tiles allow for live updates – no more having to redraw and upload millions of map tiles after making a simple styling change like you had to do in the olden days. Vector tiles are inherently flexible – they can be cached for offline dynamic maps, and can also be human-readable and parsed in any number of ways.
We are particularly fond of ingesting vector tiles using Tangram. Tangram leverages WebGL and the awesome power of your graphics card to make maps the likes of which you have only seen in science fiction!
Shaders, lighting angles, cameras, materials, styles – Tangram is not your typical map renderer. Head on over to our Tangram page for more details on how to make your own map… of the future!