Vector tiles make huge maps fast while offering full design flexibility. They are the vector data equivalent of image tiles for web mapping, applying the strengths of tiling – developed for caching, scaling and serving map imagery rapidly – to vector data. Traditionally, maps are created from image tiles. Like for instance this PNG image tile depicting the corner of lower Manhattan with roads, building footprints, and parks: As the name suggests, vector tiles contain vector data instead of the rendered image. They contain geometries and metadata – like road names, place names, house numbers – in a compact, structured format. Vector tiles are rendered only when requested by a client, like a web browser or a mobile app. Rendering happens either in the client (Mapbox GL JS, Mapbox iOS SDK, Mapbox Android SDK) or on the fly on the server (map API). Mapbox Streets, our global basemap, is entirely made of vector tiles. Any map data you upload with Mapbox Studio is converted into vector tiles before styling. Vector tiles are an open standard under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 US License. We support vector tiles across our products and there is a large list of vector tile implementation by other vendors. Read the Mapbox Vector Tile Spec on Github and get in touch with us there with feedback and improvements. Source.