But now, thanks to a bit of rerouting, the app is back on track.
GNOME Maps Now Uses Mapbox
MapQuest’s decision to restrict usage of its free tile service was unfortunate, but not unreasonable. The change has led to many open-source mapping applications spread across many different platforms having to rethink and rejig their map provisions.
With “free” mapping services with liberal usage policies limited the future wasn’t looking straight forward for GNOME Maps’ developer.
But thankfully an alternative provider for maps has been found in the shape of open-source mapping service MapBox.
Explaining the switch in the commits for the latest stable builds of GNOME Maps in the 3.20.x stable series, GNOME devs say:
“With this [3.20.4] release we switch from using the MapQuest open API for fetching tiles. And instead we start using Mapbox API. Using an community API key from Mapbox,” writes Maps dev Jonas Danielsson in the change-log to accompany the release.
“Mapbox is a company with a commitment to Open source. And provides infrastructure that will allow us to do more with Maps. We are accessing the Mapbox API through a GNOME proxy that will allow us to easier switch our tile provider/URI in the future.”
It’s not yet clear if the developer will stick with Mapbox long-term, but for the interim it fits nicely. Wikimedia has suggested that its own Cartographical project (and its Production Maps Cluster) could offer the app a more stable, long-term solution.
The switch could also mean that Ubuntu GNOME 16.10 will ship with the Maps app after all, having removed it from the desktop seed due to the terminated tile service saga.