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Trend towards Vector Tile Maps and away from raster tiles

Early this year Andy Ruby and the Android Team together with the Google Maps team announced a new version of Google Maps capable of neat 3D transition features. These new features are empowered by the strategy to use vector data.

On this year’s ESRIs Developer Configuration there was an interesting talk by Dave Bouwman and Mike Juniper entitled Creating (and Sharing with You) a Vector Tile Cache for ArcGIS Server. With this presentation they introduced early results of their project ArcStache derived by a vector based map cache.
This is possible with the ArcGIS feature service introduced at version 10.
View more presentations from Dave Bouwman.
Some of the main issues right now are:
  • Spatial Reference
  • Performance
  • Point and Lines are ok, but how to implement polygons within tiles – and clipping polygons on the maps.
There is also a project called PolyMaps which uses SVG and introduced some logic to draw features based on tiles.

For the demo the also implemented a client who can consume a vector map tiled layer. For this client they introduced a VectorTiledMapLayer object.  The TiledMapServiceLayer was very convenient as parent element, because they could use the getTileURL method and overwrite it for their purposes. 

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