Get started with Mapzen Vector tiles

Mapzen Vector Tiles provide basemap coverage of the world in several vector tile formats. Tiles are available for zooms 0 through 16 and are available in several spatial data formats including MVT and GeoJSON. Learn more about the various data formats offered.

Get an API key

To use Mapzen’s hosted vector tile service in a project, obtain an API key from Mapzen.

Once you have your Mapzen API key you’ll need include it with Vector Tile requests as a URL query string like:

?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

Use the Vector Tile service

Request a single tile with this URL pattern to get started:

https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/{layers}/{z}/{x}/{y}.{format}?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

The OpenStreetMap Wiki has more information on this url scheme.

Here’s a sample tile in GeoJSON:

https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/all/16/19293/24641.json?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

Specify z, x, and y tile coordinates

Tiled geographic data enables fast fetching and display of “slippy maps”.

Tiling is the process of cutting raw map data from latitude and longitude geographic coordinates (EPSG:4329) into a smaller data files using a file naming scheme based on zoom, x, and y in the Web Mercator (EPSG:3857) projection.

Tile coordinate components

  • {z} zoom ranges from 0 to 20 (but no new information is added after zoom 15)
  • {x} horizontal position, counting from the “left”, ranges from 0 to variable depending on the zoom
  • {y} vertical position, counting from the “top”, ranges from 0 to variable depending on the zoom

Tile coordinate resources

Specify layers in the service

Layers to return can specified as all, or as one or more layer names separated by commas. Using the all layer is more performant.

buildings: https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/buildings/16/19293/24641.json?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

earth,landuse: https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/earth,landuse/16/19293/24641.json?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

Layers in the service’s response

When requesting a single layer, the response will be a single FeatureCollection, without any layer name prefix:

{
   "type":"FeatureCollection",
   "features": [...],
   ...
}

When requesting multiple layers in GeoJSON, a dictionary of FeatureCollections will be returned, keyed by layer name:

{
   "earth": {
      "type":"FeatureCollection",
      "features": [...],
      ...
   },
   "landuse": {
      "type":"FeatureCollection",
      "features": [...],
      ...
   }
}

Available tile formats

Mapzen vector tiles can be returned in the following formats.

  • GeoJSON: use the .json extension. GeoJSON is easy to get started with, human-readable, and compatible with many tools
  • TopoJSON: use the .topojson extension. TopoJSON is an optimized form of JSON that saves space by encoding topology and reducing replication of shared geometry.
  • Mapbox-format binary tiles: use the .mvt extension. This is a compact format using protocol buffers that is used for raster tile rendering in TileMill2 and vector rendering in MapboxGL

Specify tile size

Optionally a 256 or 512 pixel tile size may be specified. When not specified, the size defaults to 256. Historically, the first web slippy maps were based on 256 pixel sized tiles.

Larger 512 pixel sized tiles offers several benefits:

  • Less tiles, less network requests: a single 512 request is equivalent to four 256 requests
  • Better labels: map rendering software like Tangram and MapboxGL have more room to better place labels
  • Smaller overall file sizes: A larger 512 pixel tile compresses to a smaller file size than when split into four 256 tiles
  • Offline: Less 512 tiles are needed to cover the same geographic area, and take up less disk space
https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/{tilesize}/{layers}/{z}/{x}/{y}.{format}?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

256 tile size (default)

The suggested max {z} value for 256 pixel tiles is zoom 16. Requesting {z} coordinates up to 20 will return a smaller geographic area, but the tile will not include any additional data over the zoom 16 tile.

Default:

Including tile size in the path is not required. When not specified the default size of 256 is returned.

https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/{layers}/{z}/{x}/{y}.{format}?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

Example Tangram YAML:

sources:
    mapzen:
        type: MVT
        url:  https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/all/{z}/{x}/{y}.mvt
        url_params:
            api_key: your-mapzen-api-key
        max_zoom: 16

256 in path:

https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/256/{layers}/{z}/{x}/{y}.{format}?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

512 tile size

The suggested max {z} value for 512 pixel tiles is zoom 15. Requesting {z} coordinates up to 20 will return a smaller geographic area, but the tile will not include any additional data over the zoom 15 tile.

512 in path:

https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/512/{layers}/{z}/{x}/{y}.{format}?api_key=your-mapzen-api-key

Example Tangram YAML:

sources:
    mapzen:
        type: MVT
        url:  https://tile.mapzen.com/mapzen/vector/v1/512/all/{z}/{x}/{y}.mvt
        url_params:
            api_key: your-mapzen-api-key
        max_zoom: 15

Security

Mapzen Vector Tiles works over HTTPS, in addition to HTTP. You are strongly encouraged to use HTTPS for all requests, especially for queries involving potentially sensitive information.