Vector Tiles

Studio

The Studio Platform supports vector tiled datasets encoded in the Mapbox Vector Tile format.

What Are Vector Tiles?

The geospatial industry has long relied on tiling as a way to deal with the massive size of geospatial datasets. Vector Tiles use spatial distribution of the data to break it into increasingly finer tiles covering smaller and smaller geospatial subsets of the data. Applications then load only the tiles they need to cover the current viewport with an appropriate level of detail.

A well-tiled vector tile dataset is visually very similar to the visualization generated by loading the full data table, but loads much faster.

Studio loads the vector tiles dynamically to match the user’s experience. As the user zooms and pans around the map, the server delivers the appropriate chunk of information from the dataset.

Vector Tile Benefits

  • Big datasets - When working with geometry-equipped datasets of a substantial size (~250MB-1GB), loading them fully into Studio or any other geospatial platform can be problematic. Vector Tiles provide a lossless way around that.
  • Performance - Maps with Vector Tiles are typically significantly faster to load than maps referencing the original datasets. Those viewing your published map will not be waiting around for the map to load.
  • Time savings - Users no longer need to leave the platform or play with third-party tools to create vector tiles from their tabular datasets. Create vector tiles in just a couple clicks, or use our developer API tools to integrate vector tiling as part of your team’s workflow.
  • Secure Data Hosting - By default, the generated tilesets are securely hosted by Foursquare and integrates with Foursquare’s existing authentication system, which can integrate with your company’s single sign-on solution.
  • Publishing - Vector tiles are a great choice for published maps, which can be shared with others directly or embedded in blogs and websites. With snappy loading and minimal impact to performance, Studio can stay immersed in your website without waiting for maps to load or being sent to a new tab/application.

TileJSON Support

Created during generation

Whenever you generate vector tiles in Studio, a TileJSON file containing metadata is created and saved to your Foursquare Studio account.

When loading a vector tiled dataset, Studio will load the associated TileJSON if it is available.

TileJSON files contains metadata about data properties (columns), including names, types and ranges, enabling improved analytics and visualization features.

Color ScaleWithout MetadataWith MetadataMetadata Requirements
Custom BreaksNone (the user specifies the ranges)
QuantizeNeeds the global min and max value of each column. This metadata is stored during vector tile generation.
QuantileWould need all values in a column to create equal-size bins. This is too much data to save as metadata.
Jenks Natural BreaksWould need all values in a column to enable clustering. This is too much data to save as metadata.
CategoricalNeeds a range of all discrete values for a column. This is saved in metadata for columns with less than 1000 discrete values.
Dynamic ColorWorks on data in viewport. No metadata required.

Resources

We have developed a couple resource assist in your experience with Vector Tiles in Foursquare Studio:


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