The potential for custom and real-time maps from OSM is growing fast, but the size and complexity of the data increasingly limits new and creative uses. Many seek to craft beautiful maps from OSM only to find their energy and time mostly taken by importing the data into a database and massaging it into manageable pieces.
A powerful solution to this problem is to allow the rendering of OSM data directly from vector tiles. Vector tiles combine the strengths of image tiles - fast, cacheable, and easy to distribute - with the flexibility of source vectors - high resolution, interactive, and renderable in infinite ways. Supporting multiple named layers and containing a space efficient serialization of geometries and attributes, vector tiles once created can be cached and distributed to any number of map rendering clients.
In this session Dane will describe a new high performance and open source library for creating vector tiles and rendering vector tiles to various formats using Mapnik. Mapnik in this context becomes both server– producing vector tiles on demand - and client - rendering beautiful maps from vector tiles. After covering the details of how to write your own software to use vector tiles, Dane will demo an experimental version of TileMill that leverages this technology to enable immediate styling of a global set of OSM vector tiles.
State of the Map US - San Francisco 2013