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Sorry for the really noob post here... but I am completely overwhelmed with acronyms, software, services and the like and am not sure where I should be focusing.

What I'm looking for is a way to plot specific points, using latitude and longitude, on a map, with a couple of twists.

  • No calls can leave my server, so everything has to be available there.
  • I don't really need a full map, but I would need the outlines of continents, countries, and states, with maybe major cities listed just to help people oriented themselves to where these points are.

I was hoping to find something that would allow zoom from planet view down to town level, but do not need street level information, nor will I need any roads or routing information. I was looking at a tile server, but it looks like I'd need a huge amount of space to store tiles at the different zoom levels -- more than I have available (even a few G is fine, but hundreds of them is too much). So, I was hoping there was some sort of vector based outlines of these things that would be small and would allow for zooming.

I'm more than willing to put in the time doing the research on this, but I'm hoping some people here can at least narrow down what it is that I'm even looking for. Any help is appreciated.

asked 07 Nov '13, 22:35

DDoyle's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 07 Nov '13, 22:36

I think it may be useful if you would clarify what you mean by "vector". Or why you want "vector". Where you want "vector"?

(08 Nov '13, 21:08) aseerel4c26 ♦

By vector, I mean pathed information, rather than images (raster?). Tiles generally seem to be images, which results in very detailed maps, but take a fairly large amount of file space to store them.

Since I only need minimal info to give a general sense of where something is, outlines of countries and states should be sufficient. And if these are vectors, then I can zoom to any level just by increasing the distance between the points in the path, rather than loading a different set of images (though, even with paths, at certain zoom levels, you'd want to get different amount of details).

(11 Nov '13, 19:47) DDoyle

2 GB of tiles should give you a world-wide OSM map on zoom levels 0-10. From what you write, that sounds like it would be perfectly sufficient for your purpose. Stuff the tiles into a web directory, add Leaflet or OpenLayers, and there you are! OSM would expect you to not "scrape" the 1m tiles you need for that though, but rather produce them yourself or have someone else produce them for you.

Another option is not using OSM altogether (much too detailed and too much data for your purpose) but instead head over to, get a couple of their shape files (country outlines, major cities, etc.), and then use a GIS software of your choice to throw them together to make a map that suits you - you could, for example, use QGis Desktop for WYSIWYG styling and then use QGis server to publish your results as WMS images to your web application, or you could use TileMill to produce tiles from your data. All products and data sets named in this paragraph are free/open.

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answered 08 Nov '13, 11:00

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

edited 08 Nov '13, 16:54

When I tried to research it, it looked like I'd need level 11 or possibly 12. When you said that I'd need to produce it, what does that mean, or where would I find more information on that?

naturalearthdata looks like a good place to start looking. Thanks for that and the recommendations of software.

(08 Nov '13, 19:17) DDoyle

If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth having a read of the "serving tiles" and "using tiles" sections of The "serving tiles" section is about tiles rather than vector maps, but is still worth reading because it might explain some of the other stuff that you're reading elsewhere. The "getting started with leaflet" part of "serving tiles" links to various examples, which include drawing points lines and other things on top of existing map tiles.

Frederik's already mentioned tilemill, but perhaps it might be worth running through their introductory guide just to give you a sense of what it's capable of.

If you want to look at something that already produces vector maps (albeit not in a format that's directly useful to you) I'd have a look at mkgmap (regular Java). Unlike some software that I could mention, it seems to have been written with a goal that other people can pick it up and understand it. Another possibility is osmand (Android Java).

(08 Nov '13, 20:20) SomeoneElse ♦

I had looked at those, but in my mind, I'd be creating tiles that would be the same as other people's. Because of this, I didn't think of production as being anything different than a copy of other people's tiles, so I hadn't differentiated between production and scraping. But yes, I had assumed I'd be creating tiles from data rather than downloading someone else's.

Thank you, I'll take a look at mkgmap and osmand also.

(11 Nov '13, 19:53) DDoyle

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question asked: 07 Nov '13, 22:35

question was seen: 4,178 times

last updated: 11 Nov '13, 19:53

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum