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The difference between XYZ and TMS tiles and how to convert between them

The difference between XYZ and TMS tiles and how to convert between them

Lots of tile-based maps use either the XYZ or TMS scheme. These are the maps that have tiles ending in /0/0/0.png or something. Sometimes if it's a script, it'll look like &z=0&y=0&x=0 instead. Anyway, these are usually maps in Spherical Mercator.

Good examples are OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, MapBox, MapQuest, etc. Lots of maps.

Most of those are in XYZ. The best documentation for that is slippy map tilenames on the OSM Wiki, and Klokan's Tiles a la Google.

Some of them are in TMS instead. TMS is an OSGeo spec. Here's the wiki page on it. It's less popular and few services support the whole spec.

There are no advantages of XYZ over TMS or vice-versa for most maps*, but XYZ is more popular.


Let's get to the point. The only difference between the two is a flipped y coordinate.

In math:

y = (2^z) - y - 1


y = Math.pow(2, z) - y - 1;


y = pow(2, z) - y - 1;


y = (2 ** z) - y - 1


y = (2 ** z) - y - 1


When I say 'no difference' or 'no advantage' I mean for most maps. If you have some weird projection, use TMS but ideally don't make a tiled map in a weird projection in the first place. If you're forced to use OSGeo standards, do that but try to find a different job.

This originally credited OGC with TMS. It was OSGeo. OGC has WMTS. Don't use that either.

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fasiha commented Feb 10, 2022

@Bibi56 thanks for that, I didn't know it was well-known! I will look for a good place to document it, at least in QGIS 🙏

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Bibi56 commented Feb 10, 2022

@fasiha I was half joking as it's more a de facto standard well... under-documented. I forgot GeoServer (where you can use still the historical vendor parameter flipY=true). Some years ago I had to extend the MapBox environment to deal with the {-y} convention. With my professional hat I found this gist in order to help a customer to use our TMS system! Kind of easy to remember trick. And when you know it, you don't remember to write it on the documentation. BTW, with my professional hat, I'll ask to enhance our documentation and possibly offer a XYZ slippy map integrating OpenStreetMap data. Our documentation had been updated after my exchange with the customer.

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