This article provides a comparison between the two most frequently used methods that measure map traffic in the online environment. They are "map sessions" (or map loads) and "tile requests". Both approaches are described in more detail, and the pros and cons of each method are listed as well. Starting from June 2023, MapTiler Cloud users working with MapTiler SDK can leverage a session-based billing model in their applications.
About map sessions
Map sessions (map loads) are used by MapTiler and several other major map providers, such as Google or Mapbox. The map loads are counted when the map (object) is initialized on a web page. After the map object has loaded, any user interaction (e.g., zooming, panning, changing the theme...) does not have any impact on the usage limits. Therefore each map load includes an unlimited number of tile requests for the length of the map session.
The length of the MapTiler map session is set to 6 hours, meaning that a user can have their web browser open with continuous map interactions that all count towards the same map load during a consecutive 6-hour window. However, once the map is refreshed (a single F5 or CTRL+R stroke) a new map load is initiated and billed. A completely new map session is triggered after 6 hours of continuous map interactions.
The map load pricing model does not take into account what the users do with the map or how many actions they perform with it as long as they do not refresh it. This pricing model usually provides a slightly higher base price per 1 unit (a map load); hence the provider needs to count on the fact that the user could do quite a lot of stuff with the map inside the 6-hour window and therefore generate significant traffic. This pricing model might be preferred by those who tend to use the maps quite heavily and need a lot of interactions per map load. Hence they do not have to care about how many tiles they request during a single session.
About tile requests
MapTiler Cloud also uses the tile-request-based billing model to measure map traffic in map applications. If you want to know what is a map tile, check out this article. A single tile request is an API call from the map user's application to the MapTiler Cloud infrastructure requesting a specific piece of the map. Do you want to see how tile requests work for real? Check out this amazing demo.
The pricing model based on tile requests gives the users great control of their expenses. The users pay only for those tile requests they consume and they can continuously monitor their map traffic in the MapTiler Cloud analytics tool. Additionally, they can set up a spending limit to make sure their monthly spending is just as low as they need it to be.
Tile requests and map sessions compared
What is tile request in MapTiler Cloud
MapTiler Cloud - Tile request counter
MapTiler Cloud - Pricing overview
MapTiler Cloud - Map sessions
How to avoid billing surprises