I have been working on a project that is a real-estate web portal. One of the main features of the portal is maps. You can search for a property on the map using certain criteria. You can see what other objects – supermarkets, hospitals, kindergartens – are located near it, or you can drill into information about specific properties.
Initially I choose to use OpenStreetMap to render maps, the main reason being the level of detail that it provides. For instance, you can see things like factories, industrial zones, suburb borders, schools, etc. This information is quite important when you are looking for a new place to live.
But (and there’s always a ‘but’), I ran into a problem when I got my first Retina MacBook Pro. Maps looked a bit blurry on it. It turned out that the problem was the Retina (hi-res) display.
What I needed was special tiles that rendered with a bigger scale factor to make them sharper. I was looking for a free, ready-to-use solution, but couldn’t find one. There are some commercial projects that you can use, but they cost money, which we didn’t really have for that project.
Furthermore, I needed to keep tile format the same so I don’t need to make any modifications on front end.
Fortunately, OpenStreetMap not only serves up map tiles, but gives you access to the huge geo database underneath as well. So, I decided to render my own tiles from this database.
In this article I’ll present my solution. Importantly, this solution will use Docker to build and run. Using Docker helps avoid problems running shared libraries across different platforms, because most of the tools in that area written with C++. The hope is that you’ll be able to easily setup this solution in your own environment.