Glossary: tileset

A tileset is a collection of raster or vector data broken up into a uniform grid of square tiles at 22 preset zoom levels. Tilesets are used in Mapbox libraries and SDKs as a core piece of making maps visible on mobile or in the browser; they are also the main mechanism we use for determining map views.

Tilesets are highly cacheable and load quickly. Mapbox relies heavily on both raster and vector tilesets to keep our maps fast and efficient.

Tilesets can be raster or vector. To see a list of tilesets available for you to use, see your Tilesets page.

Raster tilesets

Raster tilesets are used in both modern and classic Mapbox tools to display maps as a grid of images loaded when necessary on the map. Raster tilesets can be added to styles in Mapbox Studio or used in Mapbox GL JS maps as raster sources. Traditional web mapping libraries, like Mapbox.js and Leaflet, need raster tiles to display your map on a web page; classic styles created in Mapbox Studio Classic are used as raster tilesets.

Raster tilesets are created when uploading raster images to Mapbox Studio as TIFFs/GeoTIFFs. Mapbox provides Mapbox Satellite for use as a raster tileset.

Vector tilesets

Vector tilesets are the vector data equivalent of raster tilesets – instead of storing raster data in the form of pixels, vector tilesets store vector data in the form of points, lines, and polygons as vector tiles. Vector tiles can be manipulated and queried. They can be used as sources for styles or queried directly to create interactive experiences with Mapbox Mobile SDKs and Mapbox GL JS.

When uploading vector data (GeoJSON, Shapefile, KML, or GPX) to Mapbox Studio via the interface, through the Uploads API, your data is automatically converted to vector tilesets and stored in your Mapbox account. Mapbox also provides several open source tools for converting vector data to vector tilesets, querying vector tilesets, and much more.

Datasets and tilesets

Datasets and tilesets are two different types of data. Datasets allow you to edit feature geometries and properties (attributes), both of which can be edited in the Mapbox Studio dataset editor or through the Datasets API. Datasets also keep full data fidelity. Tilesets are lightweight collections of vector data that are optimized for rendering and are not editable. When datasets are exported to tilesets for display, the resulting tileset often has simplified geometry optimized for viewing at specific zoom levels.

A typical workflow for using datasets in Mapbox Studio is:

  1. Create an empty dataset
  2. Upload your data file to Mapbox Studio to add to a dataset
  3. Edit your dataset in the Mapbox Studio dataset editor
  4. Export your dataset to a tileset
  5. Add the tileset to a style in the Mapbox Studio style editor
Additional questions? Ask our support team or learn more about How Mapbox Works.