Marble Vector OSM Update

Categories: KDE, Marble, OSM
Tags: No Tags
Comments: 12 Comments
Published on: March 22, 2016

Recently I found some time again for Marble development, and today Sanjiban and me made some nice progress on vector rendering. This can easily be explained with pictures, so let’s look at an example rendering. Best viewed full size:


Things that are new — to Marble at least — are the rendering of house numbers and the styling of roads with restricted access. House numbers and names are shown on the centroid of the building, and also on building sides if there are entries to the house. Roads which have no public access are drawn in pale red now to indicate that they might not be traversable.

It’s also interesting to compare our OSM vector rendering to the standard OSM image layer (openstreetmap-carto aka mapnik).For an easy comparison, open both images in a tab of your browser (middle mouse button), set them to full size (click on the image) and toggle between the tabs (Ctrl+Tab, Ctrl+Shift+Tab or Ctrl+Number).


Marble’s vector OSM map is designed to look familiar to OpenStreetMap users and therefore shares elements like the general color scheme or icons. We do not want to replicate it though and diverge at several places: Buildings show a nice 3D effect, icons are larger and the colors are more vivid.There’s still some polishing to do on our side, but things are coming together nicely now. Thanks to our software architecture and Qt, all vector rendering improvements are directly available in our Android app Marble Maps as well!

If you’re interested to work on OSM vector rendering, please join the Marble project in KDE Phabricator. We will also be mentors in Google summer of code. If you are a student, please check our GSoC ideas and get in touch with us!


  1. Nick says:

    the original OSM rendering looks cleaner to me, especially if we think of navigation route being drawn as well (it must be distinguishable), can there be an option to get a drawing with a look closer to

  2. ralf says:

    I just updated Marble to version 15.12, but the OSM rendering I get there is of fairly low quality. It looks like it is downloading raster images from OSM, and it’s doing a worse job than the web interface at displaying them. Is this expected? How can I switch to the Vector OSM theme?

    PS: I don’t know what WP is doing, but in my Firefox, I was unable to leave a comment here. That browser is configured for privacy, e.g., 3rd-party cookies are enabled and I have an adblocker and HTTPS everywhere. It seems your comment system is incompatible with privacy-aware browsing?

  3. ralf says:

    (3rd-party cookies ae *disabled*, of course)

  4. Dennis Nienhüser says:

    Hi Nick, we will clean up the current appearance to become less crowded. One major problem in the screenshot are points of interest that overlap each other. Our collision detection needs to be extended to handle that. Another feature I’d like to introduce is context aware rendering where the context (e.g. car navigation at night) influences the style of the map.

  5. Dennis Nienhüser says:

    Hi ralf, yes, these are raster images. You get the same quality if you switch from Globe projection to Mercator projection in Marble, and stick to the tile zoom levels. This happens when you zoom with +/- keys, the zoom buttons or the mouse wheel (mouse wheel since 15.12), but not when using the zoom slider of the navigation map overlay. Our FAQ has some background information on it, see

    The Vector OSM theme is not yet part of a release because we do not consider it end-user ready yet. For example we only provide vector data for selected cities at this point, and intermediate zoom levels are not covered. If you want to give it a try, you can follow the instructions at

  6. Tobias says:

    You should bring your homepage ( up to date:
    The Windows and MacOS Versions are really old. -> Remove them if you don’t support it.
    The link to the Ubuntu packages is dead.
    The features page is missing the Android version
    The latest info in the changelog page is from 2013
    The latest info in the KML guide is from Marble 1.6

    If you don’t have the time to bring it up to date remove it. The Project looks like it’s dead with all this old informations.

  7. Dennis Nienhüser says:

    Hi Tobias, you’re probably right. I just removed most of that (or rather the navigation links to the content for the changelog and KML guide). Still hoping that someone steps up and helps updating things.

  8. Hi Dennis, that looks very cool! Do you think it would be possible to create a QGeoServiceProvider ( using marble as a backend? Do you know of any efforts in this direction?

  9. Dennis Nienhüser says:

    Hi Alberto, from a quick look at the API this seems doable. There’s no work in the Marble community I’m aware of in that direction though. So far we rather build on top of Qt than vice versa 🙂

  10. Tuukka says:

    To me the Marble renderer version looks much more appealing. I like the stronger contrasts and the 3d effects. However, Mapnik does better job at showing street names. In the Marble version everything else is shown very prominently and with large fonts, but street names are small. It does not use the entire width of the street for the text, unlike Mapnik.

  11. […] Nienhüser escribe sobre sus avances para hacer uso de los tiles vectoriales en […]

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