A tileset is a collection of raster or vector data broken up into a uniform grid of square tiles at 22 preset zoom levels. In Mapbox libraries and SDKs, tilesets are necessary to make maps visible on mobile devices or in the browser. They are cacheable and load quickly, and Mapbox relies heavily on tilesets to keep our maps performant.
Once a tileset has been created, the geometry and data properties cannot be edited in Mapbox Studio. Only style properties can be applied to change its appearance.
Both Mapbox Tiling Service (MTS) (public beta) and the Uploads API allow you to update an existing tileset. To learn more, read the MTS documentation on Updating a tileset or the Uploads API documentation on Creating an upload using the tileset ID of an existing tileset to replace its contents.
Tilesets can be raster or vector. The differences are outlined below.
Uploading raster images (TIFF or GeoTIFF files) to your Mapbox account results in raster tilesets. Raster tilesets are what Mapbox tools use to load a grid of images to display on a map.
You can use raster tilesets in Mapbox GL-based tools like Mapbox Studio, Mapbox GL JS, and the Mapbox Maps SDKs for Android and iOS. Web mapping libraries like Mapbox.js and Leaflet also use raster tiles to display maps on a webpage.
Uploading vector data (GeoJSON, Shapefile, KML, or GPX files) to your Mapbox account results in vector tilesets. Vector tilesets are the vector data equivalent of raster tilesets. Instead of storing raster data in the form of pixels, vector tilesets store vector data in the form of points, lines, and polygons as vector tiles.
You can use vector tiles as sources for map styles. You can also manipulate or query vector tiles directly to create interactive experiences with Mapbox GL JS and the Mapbox Maps SDKs for Android and iOS.