Thursday, September 22, 2016

Free Styling with Mapbox, Google & Maputnik

Google has extended custom map styles to the Google Maps APIs for iOS and Android. This means that you can now use the same custom map style across different platforms.

The Google Maps API allows you to change the colors of different map element and to define which map elements are visible. To start creating your own custom map style you can play with the new Google Maps APIs Styling Wizard. The wizard allows you to quickly adjust the number of labels, landmarks and roads that are visible on the map. It also contains a number of pre-designed themes, such as the vintage and night-time map styles.

If you want to change the look of your map style even further just click on the 'more options' button. This will allow you to control which feature types you wish to display in your style and allow you to change their appearance on the map.

You can learn more about custom map styles in the Google Maps API documentation for Android, iOS and JavaScript.

The Google Maps API doesn't have as many styling features as Mapbox Studio. In particular Google still doesn't allow you to change the fonts of map labels. An option that Mapbox Studio has had from the start. Choosing and adding your own fonts for place-labels really does allow you to create distinctive custom map styles. The new Mapbox Studio dataset editor also allows you to add and customize the look of your own map data directly within the same styling browser interface.

If Mapbox Studio feels too proprietary for your needs, and you want to create and serve your own custom map tiles, then you might want to support Maputnik. Maputnik is a new browser based map styling editor for creating custom Mapbox GL styles.

The Maputnik editor is very similar in design and use to Mapbox Studio but is open source and will run on your own desktop computer. The editor allows you to add and control the visibility of a range of map elements and define their colors.

To add your Maputnik created custom map style to a map you just need to download the Maputnik generated JSON style document. You can then use the style by pointing to the JSON file from your Mapbox GL maps.

Maputnik is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to develop the project further. You can also view the current project code for Maputnik on GitHub.

1 comment:

Jake said...

Thanks for this! Used it for a clear, non-busy background for lightning detection.