For a long time, Indic language maps had few technical issues which included font rendering and setting up an own tile server was not a mean feat either. Google maps would provide a portion of map on Indic language, but never a full rendering at all, until launch of Google Hindi maps. Other Indic languages still didn’t have a digital map. Couple of years back, Kannada OSM user Yogesh created Kannada maps using Mapbox Studio – A SaaS Map platform, which lets users create maps by choosing the data source, styling; without worrying about setting an own tile server.
Creating a map using Mapbox Studio mainly involves 3 steps.
- Uploading the data source: After choosing the default existing base layers provided by Mapbox, we need to upload Indic language data by extracting it from OSM using Overpass Turbo and creating tiles with uploaded datasets.
- Creating a style: Create a style file which will let you specify what elements of maps you want the map to render and using which font. Option to add Indic fonts exists here.
- Use it in HTML page: Get the Map ID and use it in a HTML page. See Kannada Maps.
After Thejesh wrote about State of Indian language maps, I tried to create a Tamil Map following the above procedure and created Tamil Map using Mapbox. While I was creating that, I got to know about another SaaS Map platform Mapzen, which too provides ‘Map as a Service’ and for creating Mapzen maps, we need not upload data separately and just edit the style file. What more, someone from Mapzen built a reference map using Tangram and I all I need to do was just change the font and style file to change language code and boom Indic maps are live!