Rendering maps on iOS with Tangram

One component of the Mapzen iOS SDK is Tangram, a rendering engine designed to efficiently paint highly customizable maps from a handful of agnostic data sources. It has the responsibility of drawing markers for routes, icons, and the visually pleasing and effective basemap styles that our expert cartography team designs.

Tangram as a cartographic technology solves complex map label rendering and placement, and shades elevation data in a rather unique way to make stunning-looking terrain. It will bend your map labels so they look their best on curved paths, and draws text with a crisp quality, handling many different script features. If you are interested in learning more about those features, or are just curious about Tangram, please take a look at its documentation.

This platform-agnostic map rendering engine fits the needs of our iOS SDK for several reasons. We made it relatively straightforward to integrate Tangram so it can render maps in any iOS application or framework. The engine is entirely open-source under the permissive MIT license and, even though written in C++ in its core, it has support for both Objective-C and Swift.

The styling system and its efficacious flexibility lets you use the home-crafted and delightful Mapzen cartography out of the box from the iOS SDK, where the different data sources that Mapzen provides will look great on your devices.

The iOS SDK is a merging point of several mapping technologies and aims to make it easy to use Tangram for rendering among several other services like routing, geocoding and search. It makes your map fast to set up, and ready to work and interact with, giving you more time to think about the other nice things in your iOS application instead.

This Swiss Army knife becomes really handy, and even if Tangram is that shiny bottle opener that all of your friends are asking for, you probably want to know more about all those other technologies that comes along when using it.

Getting a map view into your app with the Mapzen iOS SDK is straightforward and should be familiar if you’ve used other mapping SDKs. We’ve documented it all here:

If full control and flexibility over the map rendering is what you need, our Tangram iOS Framework is also available for use directly from CocoaPods as a binary framework, and a walkthrough is available for you to get started.

Stay tuned all this week as we post about a different part of the Mapzen iOS SDK every day and how it can be helpful to your location based apps. If you missed the first post in this series you can go back and check it out now.

  • Tuesday (5/2) Announcing the Mapzen iOS SDK
  • Wednesday (5/3) Rendering maps on iOS with Tangram
  • Thursday (5/4) Find your place with Mapzen Search for iOS
  • Friday (5/5) Routing on iOS with Mapzen Turn-by-Turn and On the Road

Let us know what apps you make with Tangram on iOS!