Here Technologies, the company behind a popular location and navigation platform, has announced a new cloud-based data-management toolset that makes it easier for developers and cartographers to create maps.

Here XYZ launched in open beta earlier this week, and it enables anyone to upload their geospatial data — such as points, lines, polygons, and related metadata — and create apps equipped with real-time maps.

Another way of achieving this would be to create, configure, and install your own database on a server and then build a service to process this data for use in visualizations such as live maps. But that’s a whole lot of hassle, which is where XYZ comes into play, as it does all the storing, managing, and rendering for you.

By way of a quick recap, Here is among the preeminent online mapping platforms, alongside the likes of Google Maps, TomTom, and OpenStreetMap. Nokia acquired digital map data company Navteq for $8 billion in 2007 and eventually rebranded its Nokia Maps product as Here in 2012, before selling it for $3 billion to a consortium of German car manufacturers three years later.

Though Here does offer some consumer-facing applications of its own, third-party licensing is its core business, and a couple of months back it announced a new extensive freemium pricing tier as it strives to entice more developers to defect from rivals such as Google Maps.

This latest launch fits into that broader scheme: Here wants to appeal to as many developers as possible.

There’s a map for that

The Here XYZ Hub is where you can upload location datasets via an API and edit and quickly display them via the XYZ command line interface (CLI).

Above: Here XYZ Hub

In the web-based XYZ Studio, you can then get to work creating visuals from your data.

Above: Here XYZ visuals

It’s worth noting that Here XYZ also works with third-party map renderers, such as Three.js, Tangram, and Leaflet.

This actually seems a little bit like Carto, a venture-backed Spanish startup that specializes in creating maps and visualizations from location data. Back in 2016, Carto changed its name from CartoDB and launched a self-service product called Carto Builder that’s targeted at non-coders, adopting a “visual” WYSIWYG interface built around drag-and-drop functionality and including widgets that let you filter and explore your location data.

In terms of use cases, well, the only real limits are those imposed by your imagination. Here XYZ could be used for mapping live train routes or seismic activity or as a real-time flight tracker.

Above: Here XYZ: Mapping earthquakes

Here XYZ is really aimed at anyone who needs to build location-aware live maps, which may include students or data journalists.

“Location-awareness is the next big thing for products, applications, and services,” said Here Technologies VP of core map engineering Achal Prabhakar. “Successful location-awareness depends, however, on location data management. Here XYZ allows developers and map makers to maximize their creative energy by making it easy to manage location data. Making great maps, serving live location data, and creating location-aware apps will soon have one thing in common — Here XYZ.”