Blazing New Trails: MapLibre’s Metal Renderer Transformation

Written by Steve Gifford

April 19, 2023

Wet Dog Weather is thrilled to announce that we’re working on upgrading MapLibre’s Metal renderer support for iOS.

In short, we’re fixing a considerable amount of technical debt in an open-source map toolkit many people use.

The Road to Metal Rendering

A few weeks ago we completed a design phase where we broke the work into two separate implementation phases.

The contract supports two of our own engineers, as well as participants from Meta and AWS at the moment. I’m managing the engineering myself.

Architectural Approach and Design Principles

We’ve taken architectural design ideas from our toolkit, WhirlyGlobe. Our Drawables & Builders are the primary means of supporting multiple rendering SDKs at once. The plan has plenty of detail if you’re interested.

We have a more modern, gamer-like pipeline on the WhirlyGlobe side, and we’ll also bring some of that over. When we’re done, we should have a more flexible real-time geospatial display toolkit.

It’s bittersweet to support what was once a competitor, but WhirlyGlobe lost that battle long ago. I’m happy to be helping a new, independent consortium and preparing MapLibre Native for a bright future.

Embracing MapLibre's Future

Also, we’re getting paid. With the collapse of the investment market and startups flaming out all around us, this is looking like a genius move on our part. Or a very lucky one.

Wet Dog Weather is always going to be toolkit agnostic, with our own technology primarily as an overlay on mobile or web. Still, I’m warming to making MapLibre more of a default for us in the future.