Customizing map background in Tableau

Tableau Desktop includes a connection to Tableau’s map server, which provides an extensive selection of maps optimized for use with Tableau. If you prefer to use your own maps, the easiest approach is to connect to a map server that supports the WMS standard. For more information, go to Working with WMS Servers topic in Tableau Desktop Help and Mapping Data with WMS article.

Requirements for a TMS Connection

To connect to your map server from the TMS, your map server must have the following features:

  • Maps are returned as a collection of tiles
  • Tiles are in Web Mercator projection
  • Tiles can be addressed by URL using the same numbering scheme as common web mapping services. For more information, see the <url-format> section under Variables in the TMS File for more information.

Create a Simple TMS File

To connect to the TMS, you must create a TMS file. A TMS file is a simple text file that you can create in a text editor.

Open a text editor.Copy and paste the following XML into the text editor.

Copy and paste the following XML into the text editor.<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mapsource inline="<boolean>" version="8.1">
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" server="<server-url>" url-format="<url-format>" />
<layers>
<layer display-name='Base' name='base' show-ui='false' type='features' request-string='/' />
</layers>
</mapsource>

Replace <boolean>, <server-url>, and <url-format> variables as described in the Required Variables in the TMS File section in this article.

Save the TMS file with a .tms extension to the Mapsources folder of Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server.The default location for the Mapsources folder:

For Tableau Desktop on the Mac – /Users/<user>/Documents/My Tableau Repository/Mapsources

For Tableau Desktop on Windows – C:\Users\<user>\Documents\My Tableau Repository\Mapsources

For Tableau Server – C:\Program Files\Tableau\Tableau Server\<version>\vizqlserver\mapsources

Open Tableau Desktop.

Connect to a workbook that contains location information.

Select Map > Background Maps, and then select the background map from the map server you configured in the TMS file.

(Optional) If you added the TMS file to the Mapsources folder in Tableau Server, publish the workbook to Tableau Server and see the background map you configured in the TMS file.

Required Variables in the TMS File

Only the following variables can be changed in the XML:

<boolean>: Replace the <boolean> with either a true or false value.

A true value allows Tableau Desktop to save the configuration specified in the TMS file with the workbook. Use this value if your workbook is being published to Tableau Online or Tableau Public.

A false value requires Tableau Desktop or Tableau Server to have access to the TMS file saved in the Mapsources folder to display the maps from your map server.

<server-url>: Replace <server-url> with the URL of your map server.

<url-format>: Replace <url-format> with additional URL fragments that your map server requires. This might include the following tags:

{Z}: The {Z} tag indicates the zoom level. A zoom level of 0 displays the entire world in one map tile. The TMS will fetch map tiles up to level 16.

{X} and {Y}: The {X} and {Y} tags indicate the map tile coordinates. For more information about map tiles, refer to the following web pages:

OpenStreetMaps wiki page

Bing Maps web page

OSM XML

Suppose you want to connect to a sample map server provided by OpenStreetMaps. The TMS file may look like the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mapsource inline="true" version="8.1">
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" server="http://a.tile.openstreetmap.org" url-format="/{Z}/{X}/{Y}.png" />
<layers>
<layer display-name='Base' name='base' show-ui='false' type='features' request-string='/' />
</layers>
</mapsource>

Google maps XML

The TMS file for the google map tile server looks like the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mapsource inline="true" version="8.1">
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" <connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" server="http://mt1.google.com" url-format="/vt/lyrs=m&amp;x={X}&amp;y={Y}&amp;z={Z}" />
<layers>
<layer display-name='Base' name='base' show-ui='false' type='features' request-string='/' />
</layers>
</mapsource>

Stamen Toner XML

Suppose you want to connect to a sample map server provided by OpenStreetMaps. The TMS file may look like the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mapsource inline="true" version="8.1">
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" <connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80"
server="http://tile.stamen.com" url-format="/toner/{Z}/{X}/{Y}.png" />
<layers>
<layer display-name='Base' name='base' show-ui='false' type='features' request-string='/' />
</layers>
</mapsource>

Stamen WaterColor XML

Suppose you want to connect to a sample map server provided by OpenStreetMaps. The TMS file may look like the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mapsource inline="true" version="8.1">
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" <connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80"
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" server="http://tile.stamen.com" url-format="/watercolor/{Z}/{X}/{Y}.jpg" />
<layers>
<layer display-name='Base' name='base' show-ui='false' type='features' request-string='/' />
</layers>
</mapsource>

 

Offline maps: local map tile server

As described previously (e.g. http://rgooglemaps.r-forge.r-project.org/OfflineMaps-RgoogleMaps-leaflets.html) we can use the RgoogleMaps package to (i) download map tiles and store them locally and (ii) launch a local Web server (in python or in R) to serve the map tiles to ANY mapping application.

To achieve this in Tableau, you would simply follow the instructions from the link above and then use e.g. this XML file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mapsource inline="true" version="8.1">
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" <connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80"
<connection class="OpenStreetMap" port="80" server="
http:/localhost:8000" url-format="/mapTiles/watercolor/{Z}/{X}/{Y}.jpg" />
<layers>
<layer display-name='Base' name='base' show-ui='false' type='features' request-string='/' />
</layers>
</mapsource>

Offline Maps with RgoogleMaps and leaflets



Offline Maps with RgoogleMaps and leaflets








New version of RgoogleMaps now fetches map tiles

Until version 1.3.0 RgoogleMaps only downloaded static maps as provided by the static maps APIs from e.g. Google, bing and OSM. While there are numerous advantages to this strategy such as full access to the extensive feature list provided by those APIs, the limitations are also clear:

  1. unlikely reusability of previously stored static maps,
  2. limits on the maximum size of the map (640,640),
  3. and the requirement to be online.

Beginning with version 1.4.1 (which is now on CRAN ) , we added the functions GetMapTiles and PlotOnMapTiles which fetch individual map tiles and store them locally.

For example, if we wanted to fetch 20 tiles (in each direction) at zoom level 16 around Washington Square Park in Manhattan, we would simply run

library(RgoogleMaps)
(center=getGeoCode("Washington Square Park;NY"))
##       lat       lon 
##  40.73082 -73.99733
GetMapTiles(center, zoom=16,nTiles = c(20,20))

Note that the default server is taken to be openstreetmap and the default local directory “~/mapTiles/OSM”. We could have also passed the location string directly and saved several zoom levels at once (note the constant radius adaptation of the number of tiles):

for (zoom in 13:15)
  GetMapTiles("Washington Square Park;NY", zoom=zoom,nTiles = round(c(20,20)/(17-zoom)))

Before requesting new tiles, the function checks if that map tile exists already which avoids redundant downloads.

We can repeat the process with Google map tiles and plot them:

for (zoom in 13:16)
  GetMapTiles("Washington Square Park;NY", zoom=zoom,nTiles = round(c(20,20)/(17-zoom)),
              urlBase = "http://mt1.google.com/vt/lyrs=m", tileDir= "~/mapTiles/Google/")

#just get 3x3 tiles:

#mt= GetMapTiles(center = c(lat = 40.73082, lon =-73.99733), zoom=16,nTiles = c(3,3), urlBase = "http://mt1.google.com/vt/lyrs=m", tileDir= "~/mapTiles/Google/", returnTiles = TRUE)

mt= GetMapTiles("Washington Square Park;NY", zoom=16,nTiles = c(3,3),
              urlBase = "http://mt1.google.com/vt/lyrs=m", tileDir= "~/mapTiles/Google/", returnTiles = TRUE)
PlotOnMapTiles(mt)

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Interactive Web Maps with the JavaScript ‘Leaflet’ Library

While the original motivation of GetMapTiles was to enable offline creation of static maps within the package RgoogleMaps, combining this feature with the interactivity of the leaflet library leads to an effective offline maps version of leaflet!

We only need to replace the default server specified by the parameter urlTemplate by a local server obliging with the file naming scheme zoom_X_Y.png set by GetMapTiles Any simple local Web service will suffice, but the following two solutions work best for me

  1. (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5050851/best-lightweight-web-server-only-static-content-for-windows) “To use Python as a simple web server just change your working directory to the folder with your static content and type python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000, everything in the directory will be available at http:/localhost:8000/

  2. (https://github.com/yihui/servr) Use the R package servr: Rscript -e ‘servr::httd()’ -p8000

So assuming (i) successful execution of the map tileabove and (ii) the correct launch of the server (in the parent dirtectory of mapTiles/), the following code will have leaflet dynamically load them (from the local repository) for zooming and panning abilities:

library(leaflet)
  m = leaflet::leaflet() %>% 
    addTiles( urlTemplate = "http:/localhost:8000/mapTiles/OSM/{z}_{x}_{y}.png")
  m = m %>% leaflet::setView(-73.99733, 40.73082 , zoom = 16)
  m = m %>% leaflet::addMarkers(-73.99733, 40.73082 )
  m

And for google map tiles:

library(leaflet)
  m = leaflet::leaflet() %>% 
    addTiles( urlTemplate = "http:/localhost:8000/mapTiles/Google/{z}_{x}_{y}.png")
  m = m %>% leaflet::setView(-73.99733, 40.73082 , zoom = 16)
  m = m %>% leaflet::addMarkers(-73.99733, 40.73082 )
  m