With this solution we solve the following issue:

  • Managing millions of files on the file system is difficult.
  • We should be able to update all the generated tiles.
  • We should not have thousands of expired files.

To do so we need need a tool that can generate the tiles, update some of them contained in given geometries and delete empty tiles.

On-the-fly tiles generation introduces some issues such as having a growing number of tiles that may become unmanageable. For example when updating the data, it is not possible to figure out what tiles should be updated.

For the high usage website we want to put the tiles on S3 with the same tool.

One issue we have if we want to generate all the tiles, the generation time can grow to more than one month, especially if we have a high resolution (low if in m/px) on the last zoom level. Than for the last zoom level we should generate the tiles on the fly with a low expiry (4 hours for example). We should use metatiles to do not have too may request to postgres. And the tiles should be delete after the expiry time.

The chosen solution is a combination of two tools:


MapCache is a tool of the MapServer Suite.

It is recommended to use Memcached as cache, since it is the only system that offers automatic deletion of the expired tiles.

To use it you should have MapCache and Memcached installed on your computer. And Memcached should listen on port 11211.

To clear/flush Memcached cache, use the following command:

echo "flush_all" | /bin/netcat -q 2 11211

See the TileCloud-chain documentation for more details


TileCloud-chain is a TileCloud-based tool that offers a build chain for generating tiles from WMS of Mapnik on a local storage or S3 using a WMTS layout.

It supports the following AWS services for generating tiles: EC2, SQS, SNS.

See readme.


  • Build the project:

    make -f <user>.mk build
  • Install the base template template:

    .build/venv/bin/pcreate --interactive -s tilecloud_chain ../<project> package=<package>
  • In the <prokect>.mk activate the tile generation:

  • If you use local cache activate the capabilities generation with:


    and set the wmtscapabilities_file to ${wmtscapabilities_path} in your tilegeneration/config.yaml.mako file.

  • In your <prod>.mk you can also set the capabilities file name with:

    WMTSCAPABILITIES_PATH = 1.0.0/WMTSCapabilities.xml
  • Add configuration to Git:

    git add tilegeneration


The configuration is done in the self-documented file tilegeneration/config.yaml. The original file is available at: https://github.com/sbrunner/tilecloud-chain/blob/master/tilecloud_chain/scaffolds/create/tilegeneration/config.yaml.in_tmpl

The main thing to do is to:

  • Set the resolutions we want to generate in the grids. If we want to generate different resolution per layers we should create deferent grid. Sub-level of grids is the grid name.

  • Configure the caches and set the generation/default_cache. Sub-level of caches is the cache name.

  • Configure the layer_default, the layers, and the generation/default_layers. Sub-level of layers is the layer name.

  • We can drop the empty tiles with an hash comparison, tilecloud-chain has a tool to help us:

    .build/venv/bin/generate_tiles --get-hash <max-zoom>/0/0 --layer <layer>

    We consider that the first tile of the max zoom is empty. Than copy past the result in the layer config.

  • If you need it you can generate the WMTS capabilities file:

    .build/venv/bin/generate_controller --generate_wmts_capabilities
  • And an OpenLayers test page:

    .build/venv/bin/generate_controller --openlayers-test

If you generate the tiles locally you do not need all the configuration variables, because many of them in the generation part are for AWS generation.

Tile Generation and management

This package offers two commands lines, one to generate the tiles locally, see help:

.build/venv/bin/generate_tiles --help

one to generate the tiles using AWS, see help:

.build/venv/bin/generate_controller --help

Before start a tile generation on S3 measure the cost:

.build/venv/bin/generate_controller --cost

If you setup all the default options you can generate the tiles by using the command:





If you forget it you will get an explicit message.

Integration in c2cgeoportal

In the viewer.js, api/viewer.js and edit.js:

  • Be sure that OpenLayers.IMAGE_RELOAD_ATTEMPTS is not defined.
  • In WMTS_OPTION url should be ${tiles_url}.

In the vars_<project>.yaml define tiles_url to something like, for S3 usage:

- http://a.tiles.{host}/
- http://b.tiles.{host}/
- http://c.tiles.{host}/
- http://d.tiles.{host}/

The configuration of the tiles vhost will be done by the sysadmins.

To get your tiles URL in the viewer.js do:

from json import dumps
    url: ${dumps(request.registry.settings['tiles_url']) | n},

And in the mobile/config.js do:

var dummy = "<% from json import dumps %>";
jsonFormat = new OpenLayers.Format.JSON();
try {
    App.tilesURL = jsonFormat.read('${dumps(request.registry.settings["tiles_url"]) | n}');
catch (e) {
    App.tilesURL = "";
    url: App.tilesURL,

Internal service

If you use an internal service to access to the tiles you can use sub domaine to access to them by using that in WMTS_OPTION:

url: [
    '${request.route_url('<view>', subdomain='s1')}',
    '${request.route_url('<view>', subdomain='s2')}',
    '${request.route_url('<view>', subdomain='s3')}',
    '${request.route_url('<view>', subdomain='s4')}'

With <view> the name of the view that serve the tiles. The sub domain should obviously be define in the DNS and in the Apache vhost. If the application is served on deferent URL and you want to use the sub domain on only one of them you can define in the vars_<project>.yaml the following:

# The URL template used to generate the sub domain URL
# %(sub)s will be replaced by the sub domain value.
subdomain_url_template: http://%(sub)s.{host}