It is commonly used to generate map tiles at a certain scale and re-organize them for web map on PC. For example Google map, and Bing map.

Then user will use the setZoomLevel(int level) or something else to set the zoom of the map. This is because the tiles is not continuous.

Now I wonder what is the alternative method when use display the vector data ?

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    setZoomLevel is for the overall map. it includes for both tiles and vectors. – neogeomat Nov 19 '13 at 4:30

I wonder if you ask about google maps or in general. You have tagged your question as so I suppose you are asking about them only (and also, general answer is not quite possible, you need ask about particular technology). In google-maps you can also display vector data (rectangles, circles, polygons, point and line features ...). But still, the zoom is continuous because there is almost always some tiled layer. So, in google maps, there is no alternative to discrete zoom.

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