Toward Web Mapping with Vector Data

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Improving the use of vector data in web mapping is often shown as an important challenge. Such shift from raster to vector web maps would open web mapping and GIS to new innovations and new practices. The main obstacle is a performance issue: Vector web maps in nowadays web mapping environments are usually too slow and not usable. Existing techniques for vector web mapping cannot solve alone the performance issue. This article describes a unified framework where some of these techniques are integrated in order to build efficient vector web mapping clients and servers. This framework is composed of the following elements: Specific formats for vector data and symbology, vector tiling, spatial index services, and generalization for multi-scale data. A prototype based on this framework has been implemented and has shown satisfying results. Some principles for future standards to support the development of vector web mapping are given.