Create Customized Maps in the Cloud with Amazon EC2 and Tile Drawer

Adam DuVander, August 28th, 2009

tiledrawer2Making your own map imagery is now much, much easier. Tile Drawer is an Amazon EC2 (our Amazon EC2 API profile) machine image with all the software needed to create your own map tile server.

Tile Drawer example images

The solution, created by Stamen Design’s Michal Migurski, uses Mapnik (an open source GIS toolkit) and Open Street Map data. Mapnik, especially, is notoriously difficult to get working correctly. With the Amazon image created by Migurski, everything is ready to go. All you need to do is tell it which Open Street Map file and stylesheet to use–and Tile Drawer makes several examples available.

Mapping on the web has become ubiquitous. The next logical step for developers looking to differentiate their applications is to change the look of the map itself. Once you have a tile server, you can load them into Google Maps, or use a JavaScript library like OpenLayers (our OpenLayers API profile).

If you’d rather not roll your own tile server, you can achieve a similar effect using CloudMade (our CloudMade API profile). The service, also based on Open Street Map data, has an innovative style editor.

The similarity between CloudMade and the new Tile Drawer isn’t accidental. Migurski and his Stamen colleagues designed the six default styles available in the style editor.

Hat tip: Andy Baio

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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.