A new map renderer for OSM? Rasters, vectors, language and internationalization

Room: Track 1 - Talks

Sunday, 16:30 UTC
Duration: 20 minutes (plus Q&A)


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  • Brandon Liu

OSM’s mission is to create a free, global dataset of geodata for diverse applications. A mainstream OSM use case is web cartography: the graphical display of geographic features on the standardized browser platform. Cartographers want to make beautiful, labeled, multi-resolution maps; maps need to be loaded progressively for a smooth user experience.

The web map status quo centers around two distinct approaches. One approach, used by the OSM Carto project, is server-rendered raster map tiles displayed as images in the browser. Another approach is to use a WebGL framework that consumes tiles of vector features. In the first part of this talk, I will investigate the tradeoffs inherent in these approaches with regards to multilingual text and internationalization, as these pose limitations for localizing OSM applications to different languages and cultures.

The second part of this talk will introduce new techniques and libraries for rendering OSM data that are a compromise between the raster and vector map ecosystems. I’ll demonstrate some of these ideas in protomaps.js, a new Canvas2D and Leaflet-based open source map rendering library.