[OSM-dev] Using custom renderer with mod_tile

Kai Krueger kakrueger at gmail.com
Thu Mar 1 00:50:49 GMT 2012

Skye Book wrote
> Hi Peter,
> I was under the impression that Tirex sat behind mod_tile.. It's meant to
> replace it?

There is often a lot of confusion about the naming around mod_tile and what
it is.

mod_tile it self is an apache module that is responsible for serving tiles
and deciding which tiles are out of date and need re-rendering. mod_tile
however doesn't do any rendering itself and is thus agnostic to the
underlying rendering.

mod_tile talks to a rendering backend via a (tcp?) socket.

Currently there are two different rendering backends, "renderd" and "tirex".
Renderd was the original rendering backend and its source directory lives in
the mod_tile directory of the openstreetmap svn directory. Therefore
mod_tile and renderd are often not properly distinguished. Renderd only
supports mapnik as a renderer.

Tirex is a replacement for renderd and works together with mod_tile.
(Although there might also be a replacement component for mod_tile, I am not

Tirex is more flexible with respect to the actual renderer and it currently
has plugins to render tiles via mapnik, mapserver or WMS. I am also
currently working on a geojson vector "renderer" for tirex and it is
relatively easy to extend it with further rendering plugins depending on
your needs. tiles.osm.org however continues to use renderd for rendering.

So in case you don't want to use mapnik for rendering, you are probably best
off with the combination of mod_tile and tirex.


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