Full Support for Online Tile Servers

05 November 2014 by Bryan McBride

Fulcrum was designed from the ground up to support full offline usability, but we are proud to extend support of custom online tile servers to our mobile clients as well. The latest updates to the Fulcrum Android and iOS mobile apps now list all of your Tile XYZ layers in the mobile layer selector, right along with your custom offline layers.

Custom Web Maps On Mobile

The mobile apps are built on the Google Maps SDK, so users always have access to Google’s impressive online inventory of global basemaps and aerial imagery, but sometimes you need more. While you’ve always been able to create custom map layers via offline .mbtiles packages, these aren’t always practical for large geographic areas that may already have coverage via an online tile map service.

Many governmental entities, including the USGS, state, and local municipalities provide geographic data as web services. Map tiles in the standard http://a.tilesource.com/{z}/{x}/{y}.png cache format are fully supported on both the web and mobile clients.

Sample Map Tile Services:

  • USGS Topo Base Map:
    http://basemap.nationalmap.gov/arcgis/rest/services/USGSTopo/MapServer/tile/{z}/{y}/{x}
  • USGS Aerial Imagery:
    http://basemap.nationalmap.gov/arcgis/rest/services/USGSHydroNHD/MapServer/tile/{z}/{y}/{x}
  • Mapquest OSM:
    http://a.mqcdn.com/tiles/1.0.0/osm/{z}/{x}/{y}.png

Serving Your Own Data:

If you have your own GIS data, you can utilize web services such as CARTO, Mapbox, or ArcGIS Online to serve out your map tiles to Fulcrum. Alternatively, you can roll your own tile server using a variety of freely available tools, including MapTiler, GDAL2Tiles, and QGIS. The resulting tile images and directory structure can be simply dropped on any web server or hosting services such as GitHub or AWS.

Mobile Tile Layers

We’d love to hear how you are taking advantage of this new functionality and we’re always looking for new ideas.

About the author

Bryan is a software engineer with Fulcrum, and works with our web and backend platform.

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