Goodbye Map Tiles, Hello MapBox GL!

Map tiles have been the norm when it comes to online maps for a very long time. MapBox aims to change that with the new MapBox GL library.

MapBox GL is a library that aims to unleash the full power of vector data by harnessing the capabilities of OpenGL. OpenGL is an API for rendering vector graphics using the GPU. What this means is that instead of map tiles being served on the web map, vector graphics will be rendered client side by making good use of the device hardware.

The implications are tremendous; by reducing the reliance on the server, very complex and fluid maps can be generated on the device itself. The data can be played around with and everything is dynamic.

MapBox GL has support for web-based applications as well as native applications on IOS, OS X and Linux, thus being good news for web and platform developers alike.

Go check out MapBox GL here:

5 Leaflet plugins to spice up your map

The beauty of open source software is that developers can add to existing code to make life easier for other developers. Leaflet allows users to develop neat additions to your web map called ‘plugins’. The very best plugins are showcased on the Leaflet website. Over time though, even this list has gotten large (which is a good thing). Today we will look at the five most useful plugins that you might want to add to your Leaflet web map.

1. Draw

This plugin made by Jacob Toye allows you to draw all kinds of shapes on your map. Useful for sketching out custom features such as paths, areas and boundaries.

2. Providers

As the name suggests, you can add map tiles from various providers with this plugin without much of a hassle. You can add map tiles from providers such as ESRI, HERE (Nokia) and MapBox with ease with this plugin.

3. Search

When you have tons of uniquely named markers on your map, finding the right marker can be a bother. This nifty plugin by Stefano Cudini adds a search box for your markers, so your markers don’t get lost in the crowd.

4. Marker Clustering

This plugin by Dave Leaver groups nearby markers into neat, colour-coded clusters. This plugin is by far one my most favourites and one that I just love to use solely because it is simple, highly functional and makes your map look beautiful. I could not recommend this plugin highly enough.

5. Routing

This plugin by the Norwegian Trekking Association is especially useful when you are using the OSM road network and want to provide shortest routes and directions on your map.

These were five highly useful Leaflet plugins you can use to add more functionality to your map. If you have your own plugins that you would like to highlight or have your own list of useful plugins, please do mention them in your comment!