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Vector tile layers

A vector tile layer references a set of web-accessible vector tiles and the corresponding style for how those tiles should be drawn. Vector tiles are similar to raster tiles, but they store a vector representation of the data; that is, geographic features are represented as points, lines, and polygons in a format understood by the client application. Unlike raster tile layers, vector tile layers can adapt to the resolution of their display device and be restyled for multiple uses. Vector tiles have a smaller file size than raster tiles, which translates to faster maps and better performance. The combination of tile access performance and vector drawing allows the tiles to adapt to any resolution of the display, which may vary across devices.

In the map viewer, you can customize the style of the vector tile layer and the contents of the map. Other advantages of vector tile layers include the following:

  • You can use a single set of vector tiles to generate many different map styles. For example, you can change symbols and fonts or change languages for labels on a vector tile layer without having to regenerate tiles.
  • Vector tile layers look better on high-resolution displays (for example, retina devices) than raster tiles do. Vector tiles can be displayed at any scale level with clear symbology and labels in desktop applications such as ArcGIS Pro.
  • Vector tiles are much smaller in size than corresponding raster tiles. Therefore, they take less time to build and require less disk space to store.
  • Desktop applications, such as ArcGIS Pro, can project vector tile layers into various coordinate systems without distortion of labels and other symbols.

You can add vector tile layers as operational layers or basemaps to the map viewer or scene viewer. You can also use maps and scenes with vector tile layers in web apps, using a configurable app, Web AppBuilder, ArcGIS API for JavaScript, and ArcGIS Runtime SDKs.

Esri offers a set of basemaps delivered as vector tiles. These vector basemaps are available to use in maps and scenes. They include a number of styles that you can customize. Visit the Esri vector basemap group to see sample vector styles you can use as well as what can be done to change the look of the map. Sample styles include simple color changes and more involved redesigns using sprite and font changes. The vector basemaps are updated frequently and include regular contributions from the GIS community.

With ArcGIS Pro 1.2 and later, you can share a vector tile package to your organization and publish the uploaded vector tile package as a hosted layer. With ArcGIS Pro 1.4 and later, you can publish a hosted vector tile layer from a map in ArcGIS Pro directly to your portal.

Considerations for using vector tile layers

The following are some considerations for using vector tile layers:

  • Vector tile layers can be displayed in Internet Explorer 11 and later and most other current versions of desktop browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
  • Vector tile layers have the best performance on machines with newer hardware.