I was wondering what is the difference between a mvt tile and a pbf extracted from a .mbtiles container using mbutil?

Mvt is in pbf as well. The pbf is supposed to be a vector tile as well.

They are not exactly the same, since I tried to read the pbf like I read a mvt file, but I was not successful. Could anyone explain the difference to me?

2 Answers 2


They are not the same. An extract from the Mapbox official site:

They are not related at all. PBFs are a format, much like XML and can take many forms. Mapbox Vector Tiles and OSM PBFs are protobuf files, but conform to completely different specifications and are used in different ways.

Here the link where you have the full explanation: https://www.mapbox.com/vector-tiles/specification/

  • Thanks, but I am very well aware what PBF is in general. I was also not asking about OSM PBFs. I was asking about the difference between a mvt tile and a pbf tile that was extracted from a .mbtiles container, which is independent from OSM. I also realized that they are not the same, that's what I already wrote in my question :). I was wondering what the difference is.
    – Robin
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 5:31
  • I don't really know the details, but I assume the difference is in the way they keep the information stored. Probably you have reached already that conclusion before. Sorry if I can't be of anymore help.
    – xarlymg89
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 12:05

From the mbtiles 1.3 spec:

pbf as a format refers to gzip-compressed vector tile data in Mapbox Vector Tile format.

So first you need to ungzip pbf then treat it like mvt.

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