WMS overlay with MapBox-gl-js 0.5.2

alt textQuick and dirty test of the WMS capabilities of the new MapBox-gl-js 0.5.2 API. First of all, yes ! it is possible to overlay (legacy) WMS over the vector WebGL rendered base map … however the way is not straightforward:


  • Needs some ‘hacks’ as current version of the API doesn’t have enough events to supply custom URL before it is loaded. But check latest version of mapbox, it might have better support for this.
  • Another issue is that WMS server has to provide HTTP header with Access-Control-Allow-Origin:* to avoid WebGL CORS failure when loading image (gl.texImage2D). Usually WMS servers don’t care about this, as for normal img tags CORS doesn’t apply. Here WebGL has access to raw image data so WMS provider has to explicitly agree with this.
  • Build process of mapbox-gl-js tend to be as many other large js projects complicated, slow, complex. And specifically on Windows platform it is more difficult to get mapbox-gl-js install and build running then on Mac.

Code is documented to guide you through the process, few highlights:

 // -- rutine originaly found in GlobalMercator.js, simplified
 // -- calculates spherical mercator coordinates from tile coordinates
 function tileBounds(tx, ty, zoom, tileSize) {
    function pixelsToMeters(px, py, zoom) {
     var res = (2 * Math.PI * 6378137 / 256) / Math.pow(2, zoom),
         originShift = 2 * Math.PI * 6378137 / 2,
         x = px * res - originShift,
         y = py * res - originShift;
     return [Math.abs(x), Math.abs(y)];
   var min = pixelsToMeters(tx * tileSize, ty * tileSize, zoom),
         max = pixelsToMeters((tx + 1) * tileSize, (ty + 1) * tileSize, zoom);
return min.concat(max);


// -- save orig _loadTile function so we can call it later
 // -- there was no good pre-load event at mapbox API to get hooked and patch url
// -- we need to use undocumented _loadTile
 var origFunc = sourceObj._loadTile;
    // -- replace _loadTile with own implementation
 sourceObj._loadTile = function (id) {
    // -- we have to patch sourceObj.url, dirty !
    // -- we basically change url on the fly with correct BBOX coordinates
    // -- and leave rest on original _loadTile processing
     var origUrl =sourceObj.tiles[0]
     var origUrl = origUrl +"&BBOX={mleft},{mbottom},{mright},{mtop}";
     sourceObj.tiles[0] = patchUrl(id, [origUrl]);
     // -- call original method
     return  origFunc.call(sourceObj, id);



gist available here

WebGL polyline tessellation with MapBox-GL-JS

update 09/20015 : test of tesspathy.js library here . Other sources to look:

  1.  http://mattdesl.svbtle.com/drawing-lines-is-hard
  2.  https://github.com/mattdesl/extrude-polyline
  3. https://forum.libcinder.org/topic/smooth-thick-lines-using-geometry-shader

*** original post ***

This post attempted to use pixi.js tessellation of the polyline, this time let’s look on how mapbox-gl-js can do this. In short much more better than pixi.js.

it took slightly more time to get the right routines from mapbox-gl-js and find-out where the tessellation is calculated and drawn. It is actually on two places – in LinBucket.js  and in line shader. FireFox shader editor helped a lot to simplify and extract needed calculations and bring it into the JavaScript (for simplification, note however that shader based approach is the right one as you can influence dynamically thickness of lines, while having precaluclated mesh means each time you need to change thickness of line you have to recalculate whol e mesh and update buffers )


// — module require mockups so we can use orig files unmodified
 module = {};
 reqMap = {
‘./elementgroups.js’: ‘ElementGroups’,
‘./buffer.js’ : ‘Buffer’
require = function (jsFile) { return eval(reqMap[jsFile]); };


   <!-- all mapbox dependency for tesselation of the polyline -->
 <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/js/mapbox/pointGeometry.js"></script>
    <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/js/mapbox/buffer.js"></script>
    <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/js/mapbox/linevertexbuffer.js"></script>
    <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/js/mapbox/lineelementbuffer.js"></script>
    <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/js/mapbox/elementgroups.js"></script>
    <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/js/mapbox/linebucket.js"></script>
    <script src="http://www.sumbera.com/gist/data/route.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 // -- we don't use these buffers, override them later, just set them for addLine func
 var bucket = new LineBucket({}, {
 lineVertex: (LineVertexBuffer.prototype.defaultLength = 16, new LineVertexBuffer()),
 lineElement: (LineElementBuffer.prototype.defaultLength = 16, new LineElementBuffer())

var u_linewidth = { x: 0.00015 };
// override .add to get calculated points
LineVertexBuffer.prototype.add = function (point, extrude, tx, ty, linesofar) {
    point.x = point.x + (u_linewidth.x * LineVertexBuffer.extrudeScale * extrude.x * 0.015873);
    point.y = point.y + (u_linewidth.x * LineVertexBuffer.extrudeScale * extrude.y * 0.015873);
    verts.push( point.x, point.y);
    return this.index;

// — pass vertexes into the addLine func that will calculate points

prototype  code posted here