With the implementation of the mapbox vector tiles begs the question of how these could be used as a basemap in a QGIS printed map (assuming anyone cares about printed maps anymore!).

To use OSM data in a high-quality printed map currently involves downloading the data, styling it, and using it as the basemap - rather than using the openlayers plugin basemaps, which are rasters and do not print well at large print sizes.

I'm intrigued as to whether a mapbox OSM vector tile layer could ever be used to alleviate the download and styling of OSM data. When I hear the word 'vector' I think of print quality.

Is there a mapbox QGIS plugin that allows one to sign in and use their own mapbox layers as basemaps?

4 Answers 4


Using vectors as the data source for maps is ideal for high resolution printed output and MapBox vector tiles work well to distribute large data like OSM efficiently. I think the problem in getting something like this working is purely on a software level - you need the capability to mosaic tiles together, apply styles to them, and then render seamlessly to avoid potential tile edge artifacts. You also need to take into account the output format - whether your print target format is PDF/SVG or high resolution PNG/JPEG will determine the optimal methods for seamless rendering.

Given that TileMill - through Mapnik's support for vector tiles - supports vector tiles already that might be the more feasible application to add this to. However, QGIS, being C++ and Python-based, could also use Mapnik directly - like in the Quantumnik plugin(https://github.com/springmeyer/quantumnik). QGIS's layout tools certainly provide more control for printed output than TileMill currently does.


Seems this is still not fully functional, at least in the sense that this new effort to support vector tiles in QGIS is now underway:



I've wondered the same thing myself. Incidentally, I did run across this link earlier today:


Perhaps you could tweak it a little bit to pull the tiles from Mapbox without downloading the data, rather than from your local machine.


The quantumink plugin suggested in Dane's accepted answer has not been updated for QGIS 2.x so I'm providing an update with what works for me today.

The official method is to use their WMTS (https://www.mapbox.com/help/mapbox-arcgis-qgis/), which requires at minimum the 49$/month standard plan. I have not tried it, but that's probably the easiest.

You can however use the TileLayer plugin to get Mapbox's styles into QGIS. You'll need both the mapid and your token:

mapid can be one of the Mapbox's defaults (mapbox.streets, mapbox.light, mapbox.satellite... - full list at https://www.mapbox.com/api-documentation/#maps), or one you create in Mapbox Editor.

Create the .tsv file for TileLayer plugin in this format (replace all the values in square brackets):

[layername] [attribution]   http://api.mapbox.com/v4/[mapid]/{z}/{x}/{y}.png?access_token=[yourtoken]

It of course eats up your monthly mapview quota.


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