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There is definitely a difference in the level of detail. If you try to zoom in too close while using offline maps, you'll see the issue. Initially, it probably is a slight performance hit to retrieve the online map tiles, but they do get cached (I recently learned some of the details -- if interested, see this thread: http://community.tableau.com/thread/123266).
As to why have both, well, there are times when an internet connection is not available (or allowed by Network security).
As far as I know, there are people out there who don't have their desktops connected to the internet and therefore can't make use of the online mapping capability. The offline background maps are stored in the "Mapsources" directory of the installation files, along with the TMS file.
Now I may be wrong here, but the Visualization of the marks isn't dependent on this, because the marks should appear regardless of the background image, but the complete rendering will probably slow down if you are displaying lots of tiles.
I would be very interested if Tableau could advise on how to populate the Mapsources directory for offline use with additional mapping, rather than just the "base" background images.
I knew about the internet connection part but I should put some context behind the questions. I'm more curious as a Tableau server admin. We're having an issue connecting to the maps server even though we do have an internet connection so I'm having my folks default to offline maps for now.
Switching modes (offline/online) is easy in Desktop but what about when a user is viewing a report from the web? If the workbook was saved online and the internet connection fails for whatever reason the user is left with a blank background. If I can get my situation fixed that means a republishing of workbooks, switching them from offline to online.
So for folks who are stuck with offline mapping, why not have a package specific to this situation? Allan's idea is a good one. Detailed and up-to-date map files just like what's on the Tableau mapping server. Our maintenance license is still valid...
Yeah Joshua, I have been watching that thread (good ol' Shawn!). Interesting stuff.
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Thanks. I kind of get round this issue in one of my visualizations by using a mix of WMS servers, for exactly that reason...I use OSM for a "street" view and USGS for a "satellite" view. I also don't have the time to mess around with the TMS file to get the aesthetic I want, and I'm not a budget holder, so getting something custom built/hosted by urbanmapping.com isn't feasible either.
Now if I could import common vector and raster GIS files into the mapsource directory for offline use...
Well why do offline maps exist. Yes, it's 21 cent, but sometimes access to the Internet is too expencive (roaming charges) or the coverage is poor(in the forest). But you still need maps!
I guess there is no such huge difference between online and offline maps. They can be the same. The question is in the free space for its storage. You don't need the internal memory of your device when use online maps (there are servers for this). When you use offline map - the size has meaning:)
As far as I know it's not so easy to create an effective data compressing method to save your device's memory. That's the reason Google Maps provides only separate parts of the map oflline, the same to CityMap2Go.
However MapsWithMe app has all the countries and cities inside.
Well, I think it depens=)
Palina, we aren't in the mobile space right now so your points didn't occur to me but they are good ones! Thanks for bringing that up
To address the concerns about connecting to an internet/cloud based provider (including Tableau's default provider, urbanmapping.com) - if your infrastructure/policy does not allow internet connections, there may be another method.
You could create a WMS server within an intranet setting (or even your local machine) and point to that - then you are effectively working with your own"offline" mapping resources. This way, you can configure the views you need, you don't need to worry about licencing issues (Google, Bing) as there are open-sourced WMS server solutions. It also means you don't have to wait for Tableau to introduce the capability of enhanced offline mapping.
I strongly suspect that no company that has a strategic relationship with a GIS provider would want to offer a "pack" of vector and raster files that the GIS company has already invested in - the major benefit being that the files are hosted on their servers, and it would be a substantial change in their contract, which the cost of course would be passed on to the licence holders.
Allan, funny you should mention that...We just met with our [temporary] sales consultant, Matt Higgins, and he suggested the same thing. Great minds, eh?