Friday, March 15, 2024

Maps and GNOME 46

It's that time again, a new GNOME release is just around the corner.

 The news in Maps for GNOME 46

A lot of the new things we've been working on for the 46 release has already been covered, but here is few recaps.

The new map style

The map style used for the vector-based, client-side rendered map which is still considered experimental in 46 has been switched over to our new “GNOME-themed” style, which also supports a dark mode (enabled when the global dark mode is enabled).

The vector map still needs to be explicitly enabled via the “layers menu” (the second headerbar button from the left). This also require the backing installation of libshumate to be built with vector renderer support (which is the case when using the Flatpak from Flathub, and also libshumate will default to building the vector renderer from the 1.2.0 release, so distributions should likely have it enabled in their 46 installations).

The current plan looks like we're leaning towards flipping it on by default after the 46 release, so by 47 it will probably mean the old raster tiles from will be retired.

Also icons on the map (such as POIs) are now directly clickable. And labels should be localized to the user's language (when the appropriate language tags are available in the OpenStreetMap data).

Other visual improvements

For 46 the zoom control buttons has been revamped (again), and put in the lower corner (as also shown in the above screenshots):

The pin used to marked places selected from search results, and other things like pin-pointed locations in GeoJSON files has gained a new modernized design by Jakub Steiner.

The dialog for adding an OpenStreetMap account to edit POIs gained a refresh sporting the new libadwaita dialog and widgets by Felipe Kinoshita.

Also information about which floor a place is located at is shown in the place bubbles when available. This can be useful to find your way around for example big shopping malls and the like (this was an idea that came when looking for a café in a galleria in Riga last summer…).

The favorites menu has also gotten a revamp. Instead of just showing a greyed-out inactive button when there's no favored places it now has an “empty state” hinting on the ability to “star” places.

And favorites can be removed directly from the list without having to open them (and animate to that place to show the bubble).

Looking further on

For the next cycle aside from continuing the refinements to the new map style and making the vector map the main thing another cool project that was initiated during FOSDEM in Februari has caught my attention:


Transitous aims to setup a free and open public transit routing service:

It is using the MOTIS project ( as the backend, with a cround sourcing approach to collect data feeds for timetable data.

The routing can already be tested out at Currently it only handles “station to station” routing, so there is not yet support for walking instructions.

Also, unlike the current public transit plugins support we have in Maps with Transitous you would also be able to cross-border planning (utilizing timetables from different data feeds).

When it becomes a bit more mature we should make use of it in Maps ☺.

So this another area to help out by creating PRs for adding transit schedule feeds for your local area that could potentially benefit both Maps and other FOSS projects (such as KDE Itinerary).

Problems ahead

And now to something of a problem.

The location service backend that we are using (not just used by Maps, but also other parts like Weather, automatic timezone handling) GeoClue has been using Mozilla's location service API (MLS). This will unfortunately be retired
So there will be a need to come up with alternative solutions
Maybe in worst case, we'd have to disable showing current location in Maps unless the device has an actual GPS unit.

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