Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time


"Toner" is the name of Stamen's black and white map tiles. It was originally designed for the Dotspotting project by Geraldine Sarmiento, although many others have been involved since.

The original Toner was developed as part of Stamen's Citytracking initiative, funded by the Knight Foundation. The old repository can be found here, for historical interest.

Toner screenshot



  • PostgreSQL
  • PostGIS
  • Node.js
  • GDAL
  • TileMill 1@master (this includes the latest Mapnik):
  • Imposm 3, which includes dependencies of its own: go, leveldb, and protobuf.

On OS X, installation with Homebrew looks like this:

brew install postgis gdal node go leveldb protobuf

# follow instructions to start postgresql

mkdir -p /tmp/imposm
cd /tmp/imposm
export GOPATH=`pwd`
git clone src/imposm3
go get imposm3
go install imposm3

# bin/imposm3 is your new binary; either add $GOPATH/bin to your PATH or copy
# it to /usr/local/bin (or similar)

Toner Itself

  • Clone this repo
  • Run make link to sym-link the project into your TileMill project directory
  • Run make db/shared to fetch and transform Natural Earth and OSM coastline data
  • Run make db/ca (or similar; see PLACES in the Makefile for a list of registered extracts and expand it as desired).
  • Run make to generate the project.mml file. (Alternatively, make toner-background, toner-buildings, toner-hybrid, toner-lines, toner-labels, or toner-lite to work on the variant styles)
  • Start TileMill by running npm start from the TileMill repo
  • Open http://localhost:20009/#/project/toner

make db/<place> will write to the database specified in .env (with a default value of postgres:///toner). If you experience trouble connecting, try adding credentials, e.g. postgres://user:password@localhost/toner (it will use $USER with no password otherwise). Barring that, check your pg_hba.conf to ensure that access is configured correctly.

(We primarily develop on OS X where PostgreSQL from Homebrew works out of the box.)

NOTE: Changes to project settings (i.e. not stylesheets) in TileMill will not persist the changes. To make changes, edit the relevant .yml file and re-run make [variant] to re-generate the project.mml that TileMill reads.


See for instructions.


What's the deal with the Makefile? Why is it so complicated?

Magic, mostly. It probably can (and should) be simplified! Consider this another, in-progress "make for data" approach (which actually uses make).

The goal here is to provide an idempotent process for bootstrapping the project that uses as few additional dependencies as possible. make is the age-old solution to this problem, although it takes a more file-focused approach. Put another way, it attempts to efficiently encapsulate otherwise complicated and error-prone operations.

The Makefile here attempts to replicate make's behavior relative to rebuilding files with database tables. In other words, if a Postgres relation already exists, it will be left as-is. If it doesn't exist (has been dropped or hasn't been created), it will be created on-demand.

Why do I have to install pgexplode?

libpq (which underlies PostgreSQL's command-line tools) supports a number of environment variables which can be used to avoid repetition (and avoid errors). However, each component of the connection information is separate, and is more easily and concisely encoded in a URI (i.e. DATABASE_URL). pgexplode is aware of libpq's environment variables and will expand DATABASE_URLs components (which is simpler than managing multiple values and constructing a URL for imposm3 and other tools).