Web Map Cartography with Mapbox Studio

What is Maptime?


Some things to know about making maps on the WWW

3 things

Today we're going to talk (mostly) about designing the Base Map

Let's look at some examples.

Data for context

roads, water, buildings, forests, topography, points of interest...

MapQuest: data from Open Street Map, designed using Mapbox


Freemium model software-as-a-service platform for making web maps, apps, data.

Acknowledgement: A good bit of the content shown here comes straight from Mapbox

Mapbox Studio

A tool for the programmatic design of base map cartography

A way to style all of the data from Open Street Map (sort of)

Mapbox Terminology

Datasets vs. Tilesets

Datasets: fully editable geographic data. The data you are telling a story about.

Tilesets: optimized for quick display of lots of geodata. The format of your base map.

We are going to talk (mostly) about tilesets today.

The base map is comprised of a tileset: many, many individual tiles.

Tiles are a super-efficient way to serve up lots of geodata.

Tiles can be served up as raster images (pictures) or vector data.

Tiles loaded are dependent on location (X and Y), and zoom (Z) of your map view.

Exponential increase in tiles per zoom level that must be stored.

~17 billion tiles

Vector data are stored in tiles, but are rendered independent of zoom level.

Mapbox Studio: a way to style all the data for all the tiles at all the zoom levels

Let's dig in!

Mapbox Studio Editor

Create a new style from a template:

Styles >>> New Style >>> Basic

Styles > Layers > Data Sources

A style is made of links to many layers.

Layers are linked from a data source.

Data sources

Mapbox hosts a curated version of OpenStreetMap for your use as a data source.

You can also upload your own data.

OK, let's make a custom base map

Two approaches

Remember: maps are communication tools

Bridges of America

Oyster Atlas

Arctic Sea Ice

Remember: imitation is the finest form of flattery,

but give credit where credit is due

Also remember: it's easy to lie with maps,

but don't.

select data + debug windows

see raw data and compare styles


Not everything from a layer is showing all the time!?

Mapbox's curated OSM data source has some pre-applied filters. Read more here.

e.g.,: building

"Large buildings appear at zoom level 13, and all buildings are included in zoom level 14 and up."

OK! I have some data representing some theme. Should I load/style it with Mapbox Studio?


use tileset for data visualization when

(later on, use the Query Rendered Features API: accessing tileset data attrs in pop-ups)


Using your styles in your web maps


OSM2VectorTiles + Maputnik