MapTiler SDK — a great addition to the mapping landscape

25 august 2023

When piecing together interactive map applications, we often call upon MapTiler's data storage and processing services. So when they announce that they're releasing their own mapping library (MapTiler SDK), it is big news for us. Let's have a look at what the MapTiler SDK is exactly, and how it could help us going forward — building useful maps for the web.

We usually don't start from scratch when building an interactive map. The foundation of the map in our applications — our starting point — is a mapping library. There are several mapping libraries to choose from (Leaflet, Mapbox GL, MapLibre GL, Google Maps SDK, ...), each with its own strengths and limitations (feel free to explore them in our mapframe demo). And now, with MapTiler SDK, a new contender has arrived. So how did MapTiler SDK come about?

MapTiler decided to use the community driven MapLibre as the foundation of its MapTiler SDK. "Making money from open-source software rebranding!", you might say. Well no, MapTiler SDK is released under an open-source license (BSD-3), therefore not only taking from the open-source community, but also giving back. It's designed to adapt and grow with future versions of MapLibre, and also remain fully backward compatible. In other words, we can use MapTiler SDK in the same way as we would use MapLibre GL, and it comes with perks.

What sets MapTiler SDK apart?

The primary feature of the MapTiler SDK is that it fits seamlessly into the already existing MapTiler ecosystem. MapTiler is a prolific data creator. This data and related services (map styles, tilesets, geo data, geocoding, ...) are made available as modules within the SDK, enabling effortless access without added complexity. It is indeed the perfect partner for MapTiler’s Data stack.


VSCode autocompletion showing MapTiler's available map styles

And MapTiler's efforts with regards to encapsulating complexity does not stop at creating bridges to their data stack. It goes beyond the MapTiler ecosystem. Common features that are not particularly straightforward to enable in MapLibre — like rendering 3D elements, choice of language, geolocation and certain map controls — are turned into one-liners. And since the SDK is released under an open-source license (BSD-3), some of these features could be pushed to MapLibre in the near future too.


MapTiler SDK is MapLibre GL and more. It adds shortcuts and features to MapLibre, but we are not obligated to use them — e.g. we are free to use data from other sources too. But with its frictionless integration of MapTiler’s data and the simplification of some MapLibre components, MapTiler SDK is making interactive mapping an easier thing to do, particularly within the MapTiler ecosystem. MapTiler SDK is a great addition to the mapping landscape, and we will keep a close eye on its future evolution.

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