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OpenStreetMap provider CloudMade shuts its doors on small users (ericjiang.com)
58 points by erjiang on March 3, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments

Just started using OpenStreetMap on the weekend. I found Mapbox[1] to be very easy to get started with. Their plans also seem to specifically benefit the 'small user' (I.e., free developer account). At the same time I have to assume they serve big customers well too, since Foursquare is listed as a customer.

I'm no OpenStreetMap expert (yet), so maybe a CloudMade Mapbox comparison isn't entirely fair.

[1] https://www.mapbox.com/

We've been using MapBox and are pretty happy with it. They are filling a much needed niche for businesses that are not big enough to be able to afford the $10k google license. We have had good success leveraging their tools for non profits and small to mid size businesses.

Another happy MapQuest user here as well. We saved tens of thousands a year by switching from Google Maps to OSM/MapQuest. Leaflet [1] is also a big feather in the cap - easy API, actively maintained, and it easily integrates with any number of tile providers with no provider-specific code.

[1] http://leafletjs.com

I was actually planning on writing a CloudMade/MapBox comparison, but it looks like there's no need anymore.

It's tough to compare the two - each has services that the other doesn't (aerial imagery, routing, geocoding, etc.) so you might end up with an implementation that cobbles together things from both.

Anyone in the OSM community will be unsurprised by this. Cloudmade has done little of any use to anyone for quite a while. This news means next to nothing for OpenStreetMap.

There are even more alternatives for small users and providers seem to start every couple of months, e.g. https://geodienste.lyrk.de/pakete (German), http://thunderforest.com/, http://www.toursprung.com/products/maptoolkit/ and the OSM wiki lists http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tiles#Servers

When I got the email that they were shutting down the API at the end of April, the first thing I rushed to check up on was the status of Leaflet.js (which I think had been sponsored by Cloudmade?). Fortunately, it seems it's now sponsored by Mapbox: http://leafletjs.com/2013/11/18/leaflet-0-7-released-plans-f...


Probably me reading too much in to the email but I got the feeling that Cloudmade wasn't going to be around for much longer and worried what that would mean for leaflet development.

Ok, true :) this could be indeed the case. E.g. the cloudmade page on wikipedia does not read very good regarding money

A few pointers for anyone stranded by this.


* MapQuest Open: free tiles, good all-round cartography, high availability and very generous terms of use. The default option for anyone who "just wants a map". http://open.mapquest.com/

* MapBox: need no introduction, easily the biggest and slickest OSM-powered operation out there. Some really great technology, smart guys (they've hired a lot of the brightest stars of OSM), and a bigger commitment to "giving back to OSM" than CloudMade had. Wide range of plans from free to "Enterprise". http://mapbox.com/

* Thunderforest do a range of attractive specialist cartographies, of which OpenCycleMap is the best known, and can design and host styles to order. http://thunderforest.com/

* Set up your own server: reasonably easy for anyone with a little Unix experience, runs fine on a €59/month Hetzner box. Docs at http://switch2osm.org/ (disclaimer: my site)

* And for the client-side library, pretty much everyone uses Leaflet now: http://leafletjs.com/


* MapQuest Open run an instance of Nominatim, the standard OSM geocoder, again with high availability and generous ToUs. Setting up your own Nominatim instance isn't trivial, so use MapQuest's unless you have a really good reason not to.

* Mapbox has a basic geocoding API that comes as part of their plans.


* OSRM is the standard router, capable of blisteringly fast results which facilitate Google-style draggable routes. Source and public instance at http://project-osrm.org/ . Be aware that building the routing graph for the whole world takes a lot of RAM (though you can EC2 it if you like). The author, Dennis Luxen, has been hired by MapBox whose Directions product is expected imminently.

* MapQuest Open also offers routing, slower than OSRM but a nice free public instance.

* GraphHopper is gaining some traction for lower memory requirements than OSRM, though also fewer features. Java. http://graphhopper.com/

All-round OSM shops:

* Geofabrik are very much at the heart of the OSM ecosystem - pretty much everyone has downloaded their invaluable data extracts at one time or another. Hugely knowledgeable, helpful and capable of pretty much anything you can throw at them. http://www.geofabrik.de/

* Gravitystorm, the OSM consultancy side of Thunderforest: http://www.gravitystorm.co.uk/

(And a personal note: I do cartography (but not hosting), plus general OSM knowledge with expertise in editors and in routing inter alia. Link in the profile as per usual.)

Since the last time I had to pick a maps platform service(last year), it looks like MapBox now offers SSL maps in it's free/cheap payment tiers. It was a dealbreaker for me at the time, so with that out of the way, I'd definitely go back.

I've been deceived by CloudMade some months ago when they told me I couldn't use their free tier on my site because it was "associated with" unpackaged food and their ToUs denied this (as any non transferable good).

They didn't answer me when I asked the reasoning behind this restriction, out of curiosity.

Since then, I use MapQuest Open and no problem so far.

Quote: "Now, we’re left with almost no options for custom hosted OSM tiles."

As to "custom hosted tiles", yes, but you can always download the entire current OSM database, or any selected subset, and generate your own tiles by converting from the original vector data. There are a number of programs designed to do this for you.

I think there's a decent gap where it doesn't make sense economically to download and run your own OSM tile server. Especially if you need worldwide coverage, the costs of keeping a tile server with a full dataset running plus a redundant spare can easily exceed the cost of paying someone a couple hundred dollars per month to do it for you.

There are hardly any services like what MapBox and CloudMade have. The closest seem to be the various consultancies that will design and host a map for you.

This is such a shame.

Having used the OSM data to generate our own tiles. It takes a lot of time and resource to manage them well (let alone updating the OSM data)

I understand it must be tough to provide such a service at low cost. Hopefully something will come up from the ashes.

What ashes? Cloudmade was never less than 90% vapour. MapBox has already done more than Cloudmade did in their entire lifetime and they are far from the only company doing great stuff with OpenStreetMap.

It seems unlikely that they where going to achieve the large scale needed to compete with Google/Bing. My guess is that they are turning into a consultancy.

Or an acquisition.

Did anyone use CloudMade at all? It's always been Mapbox for me

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