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Flight Bag Tiles


The Flight Bag Tiles ("FBTiles") database format is an open database specification invented by ForeFlight for packaging geo-referenced chart tiles in SQLite databases within the ForeFlight App but also for use in other mobile, desktop, and web applications. The FBTiles specification is free for app makers, website developers, and national Aeronautical Information Publishers ("AIPs") to use in order to accelerate digital charting initiatives.

Database Specification

To ensure compatiblity with devices, you must adhere to the specification as documented below.

While no formal relationship exists between the MBTiles specification and FBTiles, the FBTiles format can be viewed as a superset of MBTiles. This is primarily due to the addition of of what we call "collared" data. Collared data is so-called because it relates to additional/alternate tiles that appear around the edges of the original tiles found in the 'tiles' table.

Collared Data Concept Explained

Collared Tiles Example\

While collared tiles may suggest a certain geometry, don't be confused about their general application or uses. You can simply view the additional collared tile as an alternative tile data to display or not. In the screenshot example above, the chart legends are stored as collared data, to be turned on or off as legend data in the application.

The possibilities really are limitless; you could have the original map tiles appear and then have a secondary set of tiles stored in the tile_collar_data column that are like the original, completely different, or with additional markup.

In future versions of FBTiles these general concepts may be further enhanced to allow for effecient delivery of multiple tile versions and formats.


Initial steps towards creating your own data in the FBTiles format involves creating three new tables: bounds, datatypes, and tiles. In addition to these three tables are the corresponding indexes that may be of use in your application as well, but are specifically tailored to meet the requirements for ForeFlight's application if you intend on using your FBTiles therein.

Additionally, while the basic SQL is database agnostic, for compatibility with ForeFlight, you should adhere to SQLite (as shown below) as you will be required to upload SQLite files for use within ForeFlight.

###Bounds Table

This table is used to specify the minimum/maximum X (column) values and minimum/maximum Y (row) values for a given pair of Zoom and Collared queries. This table aids in efficient lookups, and is used by the ForeFlight application.

                     collared INTEGER,
                     maxX INTEGER,
                     maxY INTEGER,
                     minX INTEGER,
                     minY INTEGER,
                     PRIMARY KEY (zoom, collared));


  • zoom: zoom levels are integer values 0-17
  • collared: 0 or 1, corresponding to True/False, collared or not
  • maxX: maximum X value for zoom-collared key pair.
  • maxY: maximum Y value for zoom-collared key pair.
  • minX: minimum X value for zoom-collared key pair.
  • minY: minimum Y value for zoom-collared key pair.

###Data Types Table

This table specifies what the format of the tile BLOB columns in the tiles table represent. While the specification is open-ended enough to allow for tile_data or tile_collar_data to contain any type of image format, at this point in time only PNG or JPG will be recognized and supported within ForeFlight's use of FBTiles spec.

                          datatype TEXT UNIQUE);

CREATE INDEX datatypes_idx ON datatypes(datatype);


  • id: unique integer
  • datatype: unique text for image format (either PNG, or JPG)

###Tiles Table

The tiles table associates the BLOB data to the row, column, zoom levels necessary for efficient retrieval from within an application.

                     zoom_level INTEGER,
                     tile_row INTEGER,
                     tile_column INTEGER,
                     tile_data BLOB,
                     tile_datatypes_id INTEGER,
                     tile_collar_data BLOB,
                     tile_collar_datatypes_id INTEGER,
        FOREIGN KEY (tile_datatypes_id) REFERENCES datatypes(id),
        FOREIGN KEY (tile_collar_datatypes_id) REFERENCES datatypes(id));

CREATE INDEX tiles_idx ON tiles(zoom_level,

CREATE INDEX tiles_zoom_idx ON tiles(zoom_level);


  • tilekey: unique integer
  • zoom_level: integer values from 0 (highest) - 17 (lowest) zoom
  • tile_row: row or Y-value for tile
  • tile_column: column or X-value for tile
  • tile_data: BLOB for image data (no format assumed)
  • tile_datatypes_id: refers to format of BLOB in separate table
  • tile_collar_data: BLOB for collared image data (no format assumed)
  • tile_collar_datatypes_id: refers to format of BLOB in separate table


Included in this repository is an examples directory that currently contains example code in Python that demonstrate how to create a basic FBTiles dataset. The basic example, examples/ refers to a FBTiles class found in examples/ This core class demonstrates how to create the initial database schema, and also provides an example of the tasks associated with adding a tile in the FBTiles.add_tile() method.

    def add_tile(self, tile_filename, x, y, z, collared=False):

If you are familiar with Python, or running things from the command line the next steps will be familiar. These steps assume you have access to a Unix terminal, such as you would find on Mac OS X, or Linux environments although it is certainly possible to execute these examples under other platforms such as Windows. Python is a widely supported and the examples here are portable assuming you have the minimum supported Python version.

Running Python Example-1

Example 1 simply adds two versions of a tile at a single position to an FBTiles dataset. The regular version is added and then the collared version.

To run the example, open a terminal to this repository directory (wherever you have cloned it into). Step into the examples directory with cd examples. You'll then execute the script using the python interpretor python, and if all goes well, you will see messages stating that the dataset example1.fbtiles was created.

$ cd examples
$ python
connecting to: example1.fbtiles
creating schema
closing database: example1.fbtiles
Created example1.fbtiles

Afterwards, if you have installed the optional SQLite3 programs, and are familiar with SQL, you can inspect the contents of the dataset.

$ sqlite3 example1.fbtiles
SQLite version 3.7.12 2012-04-03 19:43:07
Enter ".help" for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a ";"
sqlite> select * from tiles;

Running Python Tests

Within the examples directory is a tests directory that contains a test script Following on the steps we already discussed for running the example, you can simply type the following from a terminal if you are within the examples directory. You should see something similar to the output shown below with paths that are relative to your project.

$ python tests/
connecting to: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
creating schema
closing database: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
.connecting to: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
creating schema
closing database: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
.connecting to: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
creating schema
closing database: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
.connecting to: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
creating schema
closing database: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
.connecting to: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
creating schema
closing database: /Users/joe/fbtiles/examples/tests/test.db
Ran 5 tests in 0.083s


If you open examples/tests/ you'll find additional examples, although from a testing point of view, of how to use the included FBTiles object and what might be the expected behavior in odd situations (e.g. What's the correct behavior if I add the same tile twice?).


  • 1.0
    • Introduces FBTiles schema with collared data concepts.



The text of this specification is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. However, the use of this spec in products and code is entirely free: there are no royalties, restrictions, or requirements.


  • Adam Houghton
  • Kevin Turner (ksturner)
  • Matt Croydon (mcroydon)