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Create your personalised map online thanks to vector tiles

Vector tiles open up new opportunities for displaying swisstopo geodata online. This technology creates light and quick maps. Try our “light basic map”, now in the test phase, and give us your opinion.

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Test the vector tiles by creating your personalised map!

The “light base map” made of vector tiles is integrated into a test version of the Swiss Federal map viewer This will allow you to discover the new map and adapt it to your needs. In just a few clicks you can, for example, change the colour of buildings, increase the width of roads or font sizes and then share your map with others. Please note that the test viewer allows navigation beyond the national border thanks to the integration of Open Street Map data for the foreign section and the use of the “web mercator” global projection.

The “light base map” is also available via a new “vector tiles” geoservice from the Federal Spatial Data Infrastructure. As a developer, you can test this service free of charge until 31 December 2019 and integrate the new map into your own applications.

The benefits of vector tiles

As a user, you can adapt the cartographic representation to your needs.

  • Functions allow you to change colours, increase the font size of geographical names or activate/deactivate content.
  • The map is focussed at all zoom levels and the “pixelated” effect that can exist in raster maps is eliminated.
  • The display is fast and fluid: vector tiles are lighter than traditional raster tiles.
  • Several cartographic representations can be applied to data without needing to load new data.

New opportunities are available to you as a developer thanks to the “vector tiles” geoservice.

  • You can define a personalised style that corresponds to your specific needs and apply it to swisstopo vector tiles.
  • Information contained in vector tiles can be queried and analysed.
  • The tiles’ lightness is particularly suited to applications that require cartographic data to be stored offline.

Next steps

The test phase is now complete. swisstopo is currently evaluating user feedback.

If the vector tile technology wins the day, the Federal Spatial Data Infrastructure will evolve to support this new delivery mode for geodata and other vector maps will appear.

Vector tiles will, however, not replace raster tiles that are still useful for image data (orthophotos) or for maps with complex cartographic representations (national maps). Vector tiles are supplementary and bring about new ways of displaying data.

What are vector tiles?

In order to be distributed efficiently on the Internet, maps are cut up into small regular pieces called tiles. Several sets of tiles are generated to adapt to various zoom levels on these geodata. This allows the user to only load data in the relevant zone and at the requested zoom level. Vector tiles use the same principle as the raster tiles used for many years by swisstopo as part of the WMTS (Web Map Tilling Service). Whereas raster tiles contain pixels, vector tiles transport objects (points, lines, polygons). The cartographic representation of objects is defined by a separate style file. Different styles can thus apply to the same vector tiles. This provides new ways of representing and interacting with data.

And the light base map?

The light base map is the first swisstopo map to use vector tiles. It is a map with reduced content compared to a traditional national map. It allows quick orientation and can serve as a background map for displaying thematic information. It is constructed on the basis of official data: the topographic landscape model, public transportation stops and official street registry.

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 01 11


Relevant authority

Geodata Distribution

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern


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