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LayeredGeoGraphics -- An awesome way to build multi-layered custom maps!

Posted 4 years ago
8 Replies
23 Total Likes

The Wolfram Language comes with lots of great functions, but one of my all-time favorites is GeoGraphics and all its GeoSiblings. Here is a simple example of how easy it is to create a map in the Wolfram Language:


enter image description here

And you can use some built-in 'backgrounds' as well, for example:

GeoGraphics[Interpreter["City"]["washington dc"], GeoBackground -> "ContourMap"]

enter image description here

A perhaps lesser known option, but very useful one is the GeoServer option, which lets you point to any tilemap server:

GeoGraphics[Interpreter["City"]["rome, italy"], GeoServer -> "`1`/`2`/`3`.png"]

enter image description here

This is a very powerful feature, because there are many many tilemap servers in existence. Many are free for personal use and others require some sort of subscription with a key to unlock the tilemap server.

Finding all of them is a hassle, so I am making a GeoService function available in my Prototype paclet on GitHub. This is a paclet which provides a number of half-baked (and sometimes fully baked!) functions that are not (or not yet) in the core Wolfram Language. Here is how you get this paclet (and the functions described in this post):

PacletInstall[ ""]

(You may need to Quit and restart the Wolfram Language after this)

The GeoService function is a collection of a number of publicly documented tilemap servers:


Here is the output:

{"OpenStreetMap", {"OpenStreetMap", "France"}, {"OpenStreetMap", "France", "Humanitarian"}, "WikiMedia", "HikeAndBike", {"WaymarkedTrails", "Hiking"}, {"WaymarkedTrails", "Cycling"}, "SkiMap", "HillShading", {"OpenCycleMap",  "Cycle"}, {"OpenCycleMap", "Transport"}, {"Mapnik", "Grayscale"}, {"Mapnik", "LabelFree"}, {"Stamen",  "Toner"}, {"Stamen", "Watercolor"}, {"ThunderForest", "Landscape"}, {"ThunderForest", "Outdoors"}, "Opnvkarte", "OpenPtMap", {"Carto", "Dark"}, {"Carto", "Light"}, "OpenSeaMap", {"OpenRailwayMap",  "Standard"}, {"OpenRailwayMap", "MaxSpeed"}, {"OpenRailwayMap", "Signals"}, {"ArcGIS", "UnitedStatesTopographical"}}

Already immediately this gives you a whole new set of maps you can make. Here are some examples:

GeoGraphics[Interpreter["City"]["athens, greece"], GeoServer -> GeoService[{"Mapnik", "LabelFree"}]]

enter image description here

GeoGraphics[Interpreter["City"]["cairo, egypt"], GeoServer -> GeoService["WikiMedia"]]

enter image description here

But all these maps are single layered, whereas several tilemap servers provide transparent layers for some "theme". For example here is a layer which contains only hiking trails in a part of the Yorkshire Dales:

GeoGraphics[Interpreter["City"]["malham, united kingdom"], GeoServer -> GeoService[{"WaymarkedTrails", "Hiking"}]]

enter image description here

This sort of layer is most useful when it is combined with another (non-transparent background) layer. One way to achieve this is to use the Overlay functions which can display one Wolfram Language expression on top of another:

Overlay[{"XXXX  ", "  OOOO"}]

enter image description here

In the "Prototype" paclet (described above) I defined a LayeredGeoGraphics function which uses Overlay to stack multiple layers. Here is an example which shows hiking trails against a grayscale Mapnik layer:

  Interpreter["City"]["malham, united kingdom"], 
  {{"Mapnik", "Grayscale"}, {"WaymarkedTrails", "Hiking"}}, 
  GeoRange -> Quantity[1, "Miles"]]

enter image description here

And of course you can stack more than two layers. Here is an example of a label-free background layer from Mapnik, with a hill-shading layer and a hiking trail layer on top of it (The hill-shading provides the "depth" look and feel):

LayeredGeoGraphics[ Interpreter["City"]["malham, united kingdom"], {{"Mapnik", "LabelFree"}, "HillShading", {"WaymarkedTrails", "Hiking"}}, GeoRange -> Quantity[1, "Miles"]]

enter image description here

The possibilities are endless! If you find additional tilemap servers please feel free to add them here as a comment, or make a pull request in my Prototypes github repo. More layers = more possibilities!

POSTED BY: Arnoud Buzing
8 Replies

Thank you for posting. This is very useful!



POSTED BY: Marco Thiel

Glad you like it!

POSTED BY: Arnoud Buzing

It is fantastic. I have been playing with tile servers like here, based on openstreetmap, and here.

You paclet will keep me busy for a bit...

Thanks again,


POSTED BY: Marco Thiel

Thanks for sharing!

POSTED BY: Sander Huisman

If this is possible, it'd be super to see some historical geo-referenced maps supported as well. For example, I think this CC-BY historical (1920-1940s) Ordnance Survey map of the UK from the National Library of Scotland should be compatible as it's shared via the Map Tile Service standard:

POSTED BY: Arno Bosse

enter image description here - Congratulations! This post is now a Staff Pick as distinguished by a badge on your profile! Thank you, keep it coming!

POSTED BY: Moderation Team
Posted 4 years ago

If you find additional tilemap servers please feel free to add them here

There is Wikimapia. I describe how it can be used in the following post:

Note also that there are also Yandex Maps and tile servers which use ellipsoidal Mercator projection currently unsupported by Mathematica.

POSTED BY: Alexey Popkov
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