How does MapBox handle color scheme customization for map tiles?

MapBox lets you define your own color scheme for map tiles. Since there are billions of tiles, I don't think they actually create and store tiles with custom color schemes. They probably do it on the fly for each request or use some client side mechanism to apply custom styles.

Whatever they do is pretty resource efficient. I would like to know how they do that.


At a broad level, we consume OpenStreetMap data on a per-minute live feed, combine it with some custom processing into our vector tiles format, our backend servers serve that to our frontend servers, which run Mapnik to form them into tiles on demand, which are then edge-cached in a Content Delivery Network for scale.

For the editor-customizable stuff that you can do via the website, we break the tiles into some basic layers such as land, water, streets, and labels, each of which can be tinted on the fly using node-blend before being composited together and edge-cached.

Pretty simple, really ;-)

MapBox has an open source rendering stack, so you can check it out: I guess it's rendering on demand for the most custom tilesets, but the popular ones are preprocessed.

P.S: The OSM community here is pretty small, so you might ask at or contact MapBox directly.

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