CloudMade have been receiving a lot of publicity recently, and is often talked about as if it is the commercial wing of OpenStreetMap. Whilst CloudMade's founders founded OpenStreetMap (Steve Coast) or were involved from a very early stage (Nick Black), this is not entirely true. CloudMade is an independent company who produce a range of tools and libraries for mobile, desktop, and geo-web applications that are based around OpenStreetMap data. They also sponsor many OpenStreetMap events. This article is an overview of CloudMade products.
CloudMade was founded to provide a "range of innovative tools and APIs that allow you to make the most of map data". They source their data from OpenStreetMap data, and all of their tools are clearly designed to work primarily with OpenStreetMap data.
CloudMade products are generally open source, but are currently classed as alpha or pre-alpha. Pre-alpha web services are currently available free of charge, but CloudMade will be charging for some services and service levels as they are developed.
The CloudMade web services all require API keys. These are currently free. Presumably they will be used to track usage when fees are charged. They are currently used for performance monitoring, and to ensure the terms of the Creative Commons license are respected where necessary (eg. for tile rasters). Users should see the CloudMade website for full copyright terms.
CloudMade freely distribute the OpenStreetMap data translated into a number of forms:
- OSM XML (.bz2): This is the native OpenStreetMap format
- Garmin Map Files - OSM err edition (.zip): Can be loaded into many Garmin GPS devices and can assist with OpenStreetMap mapping by highlighting missing road names/etc
- Osmosis Country bounding polygon (.poly): Approximate bounding box for each country. Used by the Osmosis to extract a country's OSM data
- ESRI Shapefiles (.shp,.shx,.dbf): Standard ESRI shapefiles as accepted by most GIS systems
- Navit files (.bin): Road and POI data in Navit navigable files. As used by the Navit car navigation software for Linux
- GPX POI (.gpx): Points of interest in GPX (GPS Exchange Format) as used by many GPS devices
- TomTom POI (.ov2): Points of Interest in TomTom's own POI format.
These data files are regularly translated from the native OSM XML format, and can be downloaded from http://downloads.cloudmade.com/ .
CloudMade have a number of software products available.
Mapzen was announced earlier this year. Mapzen is an OpenStreetMap editor which will be released as open source software under the GPLv2 license.
One of the most distinguishing features of CloudMade's current products and services, is the distinctive map style used for their map rasters. Unique map styles like this one can be easily produced using CloudMade's Style Editor. After designing a suitable map style, you can use the resulting style in your own CloudMade-based map application. Further details and downloads can be found on the Style Editor web pages .
Finally, cloudMade have an application specifically for the Apple iPhone, called Route-Me. Route-Me is a slippy-map application that supports CloudMade tiles using different cartographic styles. It is a native iPhone application that supports the iPhone finger gesture system.
APIs and Other Developer Tools
Most of CloudMade's current product line up are libraries and APIs for using their web services.
CloudMade offer a wide range of different mobile libraries. Most online geospatial companies support mobile devices in one form or another, but CloudMade supports what is probably the widest range of all. The following mobile platforms are supported:
- Apple iPhone
- Java J2ME
- Windows Mobile
- Google Android
- RIM BlackBerry
In addition to supporting the above mobile platforms, CloudMade produce the Route-me application specifically for the Apple iPhone (see above).
Web (Client) Libraries
CloudMade currently offer three online map "Web" libraries intended for web client applications: Web Maps Lite; a Flash library; and an OpenLayers extension.
Web Maps Lite is considered as an alternative to OpenLayers, the dominant open source "slipping maps"
Finally, Flash support is provided in the form of a Universal ActionScript 3.0 Mapping API provided by the CloudMade partner, AFComponents.
Web (Server) Libraries
In addition to the above client-side libraries, CloudMade currently offer server side libraries for Python, Ruby, Java, and Perl.
The following Python example (taken from the CloudMade online examples documentation), demonstrates how easy these APIs are to use:
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Finally, CloudMade offer a range of RESTful web services. The following services are available:
- Geocoding and Geosearch - Find coordinates for locations, addresses,etc
- Location Management - Manage location information with photographs, text, and metadata
- Map Tiles - Fetch rendered map tile rasters suitable for desktop or mobile platforms
- Routing - Calculate routes for vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrian; finding turn-by-turn directions
- Vector Tiles - Fetch map tiles as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) vector files
These web services are all implemented in a RESTful manner. For example, the following URL geocodes a location in Berlin:
This results in the following JSON response:
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CartoType Windows SDK
Finally, we come to the CartoType Windows SDK (UTL: ). Unusually for a set of online web services and toolkits, the CartoType SDK is a Windows library intended for use in desktop C++ applications. Data continues to be delivered through an Internet connection, but you can write a native Windows C++ application, and not be forced to write a HTML-based application or control. CartoType is primarily a map rendering library, and supports map drawing using any styles (using XML style sheets), different sizes, different projections, and any TrueType font. CartoType also supports CloudMade routing services by drawing directional arrows as an overlay.
That is it. if you are considering using OpenStreetMaps in your project, then CloudMade is worth a look. Their various APIs and applications cover a wide range of platforms and languages.
They are a definitely a company to be watched, although at the moment their products' alpha status and lack of pricing information limits their use in production systems.