Tile Drawer makes designing and hosting custom maps simple and straightforward. The project lets anyone run their own OpenStreetMap server in the cloud with one-step configuration and zero administration. Tile Drawer is a product of Stamen Design’s Michal Migurski.

You can use the rendered map tiles in a number of ways: with Modest Maps, Leaflet, OpenLayers, or layered into a Google Map as a custom map tile overlay.

Update, January 2012: Tile Drawer is back after a period offline when the original Amazon AMI disappeared. I’ve re-written Tile Drawer to use a startup script approach that radically speeds up start time for city-sized areas, eliminates the dependency on EC2, and makes the internals of Tile Drawer easier to understand. Find everything on Github.

Why & How

OpenStreetMap is a wiki-style map of the world that anyone can edit. You can get the raw data for roads around the world, set up a server, design a new map style, and have your own personal online interactive maps. In the past, this has been difficult owing to the large volume of data required and the hassles of system administration. Tile Drawer is designed to make this process easy with Amazon EC2 that gets you up and running with just two pieces of information: a custom stylesheet that you choose, and the geographical location of a part of the world you'd like rendered.

Tile Drawer

Get Started

Follow the three steps below to select a coverage location and start your Tile Drawer.

1. Select A Location

Pan and zoom the map to the area you’d like to render.

2. Choose Your Style

Enter the complete URL of a Cascadenik stylesheet, a Tile Drawer description, or just click one of the styles on this page.

3. Start Your Instance

This is the user data you’ll provide to your Amazon EC2 instance when you’re ready to launch it:

The data above must be copied exactly to work—all three lines, starting with the #!/bin/sh.

Select an Ubuntu 11.10 AMI. Eric Hammond at Alestic has an excellent collection of Ubuntu images that I recommend; a 64-bit EBS boot running on a Large or High-CPU instance type is generally a great choice for map rendering.

If you’re in EC2 region us-east-1, try ami-6fa27506.


Depending on your data source and location, it can take anywhere from a few minutes for a single city to many hours for your new instance to unpack itself. You can check up on the process by visiting http://{address}/, and when it is complete individual tiles will be available at http://{address}/tiles/{Z}/{X}/{Y}.png, along with an interactive slippy map at http://{address}/tiles/preview.html.

That’s it, you’re done. If you’re happy with how the map looks, then you don’t need to do anything more. As you view more of the map, the tiles will render slowly at first, and then more quickly as they are cached.

Tile Drawer

Contact: info@tiledrawer.com

Logo & illustration by Nicolas Marichal, USE-IT.