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Can we really restyle vector tile maps? Attributes stripped out.

Question asked by Crittermap on Dec 29, 2017
Latest reply on Feb 8, 2018 by Crittermap

Vector Tiled maps show promise of allowing you to style them later in different ways. 

 

However, that doesn't actually work, does it?

 

I have observed that ArcGIS PRO, when creating a vector tile package, strips all attributes it doesn't think it needs for the style defined on the map in ArcGIS PRO. 

For size, this is a good optimization. But we do not have control over what attributes are kept. 

 

In addition, it also changes the attributes it does keep to have names and value ranges of its own choosing. 

 

For example, there may a rule to apply a certain style to a line if height%100 =0. 

 

The resulting vector tile will have something like: 

"_symbol": "1"

 

Making the attributes unrecognizable to anyone who would want to create changes to the style. 

 

What this means is that we would have to anticipate every possible style rule before exporting a Vector Tile Package. You could change colors later, but that is about all.  

 

If you colored all roads green, and later want to make the major freeways yellow and bolder, you are out of luck. 

 

So maybe you would want to get your first style right, and then come back to ArcGIS PRO to restyle, create a new style, and then export the style without exporting all the tiles again. But you can't do that either. 

 

If you managed to find a perfect style in mapbox vector style specification, you would have to reverse engineer all its rules and try to recreate them in ArcGIS Pro. 

 

I'll note that there are tools out there, even open source ones, that can create vector tiles in a more predictable fashion.  

 

However, ESRI has worked really hard to make sure that the server or runtime does not work with any vector tiles not created by ArcGIS PRO. 

 

Am I correct, or is there something I am missing?

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