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Markers and annotations

The Mapbox Maps SDK for iOS offers several ways to add markers and other shapes to a map. This guide helps you choose the best approach for your application based on factors like interaction requirements, number of features, the need for customizing the style of features, and data sources.

Annotations

You can add annotations to the map using point, line, polygon and circle shapes with the MapView’s AnnotationOrchestrator. Use the AnnotationOrchestrator to create annotation managers based on the type of annotation that you're interested in. Every annotation manager handles a collection of annotations. Once a manager has been created, you can create and add individually styled instances of the corresponding annotation type.

Benefits:

  • Built-in interaction support like tapping on annotations.
  • No external data file necessary.
  • Every annotation can be individually styled.
  • Every annotation layer can be adjusted to be above or below another layer.
  • Same performance benefits as using style layers.

Limitations:

  • Inefficient for adding many features to the map.

Markers

A PointAnnotation can display a custom marker image at a developer-specified geographic coordinate. Click the button below to download a zip file containing a custom pin image. Unzip the files and put them in your Xcode project's asset catalog and specify it by name as the point annotation's image.

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// Initialize a point annotation with a geometry ("coordinate" in this case)
var pointAnnotation = PointAnnotation(coordinate: someCoordinate)

// Make the annotation show a red pin
pointAnnotation.image = .init(image: UIImage(named: "red_pin")!, name: "red_pin")

// Create the `PointAnnotationManager` which will be responsible for handling this annotation
let pointAnnotationManager = mapView.annotations.makePointAnnotationManager()

// Add the annotation to the manager in order to render it on the map.
pointAnnotationManager.annotations = [pointAnnotation]
example
Add a marker to the map

Use MapView's AnnotationOrchestrator class to add a single red marker pin to the map using the Maps SDK for iOS.

Other shapes

MapView’s AnnotationOrchestrator also supports putting other shapes on the map including circles using CircleAnnotationManager, polylines using PolylineAnnotationManager, and polygons using PolygonAnnotationManager. These annotations work like the point annotations described above, but do not require an image. The options available for each type of annotation varies and you can find a full list in the API reference documentation.

A circle annotation (CircleAnnotation) places a circle at a point on the map.

// Define a geographic coordinate.
var circleCoordinates = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(40.7128, -74.0060)

// Create the circle annotation.
var circleAnnotation = CircleAnnotation(coordinate: lineCoordinates)
circleAnnotation.circleColor = StyleColor(.red)

// Create the `CircleAnnotationManager` which will be responsible for handling this annotation
let circleAnnnotationManager = mapView.annotations.makeCircleAnnotationManager()

// Add the annotation to the manager.
circleAnnnotationManager.annotations = [circleAnnotation]

A polyline annotation (PolylineAnnotation) connects a list of coordinates on the map with a polyline. The order of the coordinates in the list will determine the order in which to connect the points, in the same way that coordinates are handled in the GeoJSON specification.

// Define two or more geographic coordinates to connect with a line.
// Line from New York City, NY to Washington, D.C.
let lineCoordinates = [
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(40.7128, -74.0060),
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(38.9072, -77.0369)
]

// Create the line annotation.
var lineAnnotation = PolylineAnnotation(lineCoordinates: lineCoordinates)
lineAnnotation.lineColor = StyleColor(.red)

// Create the `PolylineAnnotationManager` which will be responsible for handling this annotation
let lineAnnnotationManager = mapView.annotations.makePolylineAnnotationManager()

// Add the annotation to the manager.
lineAnnnotationManager.annotations = [lineAnnotation]

A polygon annotation (PolygonAnnotation) takes a list of coordinates and will try to connect those coordinates and add the resulting polygonal shape to the map. The order of the coordinates in the list matters and works the same way as in the GeoJSON specification.

// Define three or more geographic coordinates to connect.
let ringCoords = [
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(24.5171, -89.8571),
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(24.5171, -87.9675),
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(26.2441, -87.9675),
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(26.2441, -89.8571),
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(24.5171, -89.8571)
]
let ring = Ring(coordinates: ringCoords)
let polygon = Polygon(outerRing: ring)

// Create a new polygon annotation using those coordinates.
let polygonAnnotation = PolygonAnnotation(polygon: polygon)

// Create the `PolygonAnnotationManager` which will be responsible for handling this annotation
let polygonAnnotationManager = mapView.annotations.makePolygonAnnotationManager()

// Add the polygon to the map as an annotation.
polygonAnnotationManager.annotations = [polygonAnnotation]

Interactivity

You can choose to receive tap events on annotations that you've added to a manager, by conforming to AnnotationInteractionDelegate (and setting yourself as the delegate on the manager).

class ViewController: UIViewController {
    var mapView: MapView!

    override func viewDidLoad() {
        super.viewDidLoad()

        mapView = MapView(frame: view.bounds)
        mapView.autoresizingMask = [.flexibleWidth, .flexibleHeight]
        view.addSubview(mapView)

        let pointAnnotationManager = mapView.annotations.makePointAnnotationManager()

        // Make self the `AnnotationInteractionDelegate` to get called back on tap events
        pointAnnotationManager.delegate = self

        // Add an annotation
        let coordinate = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(24, -89)
        var pointAnnotation = PointAnnotation(coordinate: coordinate)
        pointAnnotation.image = .init(image: UIImage(named: "red_pin")!, name: "red_pin")
        pointAnnotationManager.annotations = [pointAnnotation]
    }
}

extension ViewController: AnnotationInteractionDelegate {
    public func annotationManager(_ manager: AnnotationManager, didDetectTappedAnnotations annotations: [Annotation]) {
        print("Annotations tapped: \(annotations)")
    }
}

Removing Annotations

To remove a single annotation from an annotation manager, remove it from the annotations array.

To completely remove an annotation manager, call mapView.annotations.removeAnnotationManager(withId:), passing the ID of the annotation manager that you want to remove. This removes the backing source and layer. The removed annotation manager will not be useful after it is removed.

Annotation managers are removed implicitly if another annotation manager is created with the same ID.

Style layers

Using annotations as described above makes it unnecessary to write much of the code that would otherwise be required to implement runtime and data-driven styling. But, it is possible to add style layers directly, and in some circumstances doing so will be beneficial.

Benefits:

  • Efficient and performant when adding many features to the map.
  • Compatible with GeoJSON or vector sources.
  • Many style customization options.

Limitations:

  • No default image available.
  • Most user interactions are not built-in and will require writing custom code.
  • Need to learn the APIs and usage of layers which can be time intensive.
  • Might need to learn how to use expressions to control the source data or use data-driven styling.
related
Map styles: Work with layers

Use the Mapbox Maps SDK for iOS to add, remove, and modify layers rendered in a map style.

related
Style layer API reference

API reference documentation for adding style layers using the Maps SDK.