Learn everything you need to know to get started with the CARTO platform.

Components

While developing a geospatial application with CARTO, you will find yourself interfacing with our APIs most of the time, either directly or through one of our SDKs. Our APIs are the gateway to all the services CARTO provides.

Engine

All the SDKs, APIs and the basic services (map rendering and data management) CARTO provides are generally referred to as Engine. Engine is the framework upon which developers implement their geospatial applications with CARTO. We ourselves develop geospatial applications using Engine, with Builder as the most prominent example.

Libraries

Our SDKs provide some degree of abstraction around our APIs. Some are generic frameworks that make it easier to develop geospatial applications on a given language, such as our JavaScript SDK: CARTO.js. Others are specifically designed to get the most out of CARTO in a specific domain, such as CARTOframes, our data science kit for Python.

APIs

Even though many times you will be using our APIs indirectly, it is still a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of how our APIs work. There is no better way to get an overview of what CARTO has to offer from a development standpoint than taking a look at our APIs.

Our APIs allow you to upload data into CARTO and give you controlled access to that data once it is in your CARTO account’s PostgreSQL database. They will also get the tiles you need to build your maps; geocode and enrich your data; or manage your Builder users. And much more.

Our APIs are RESTy, transported over HTTPs. In this developer center you can find introductory topics like versioning, handling errors and limits, but also usage guides, examples, and full API references.

Tip: All the API endpoints which might be accessed using a web browser add CORS headers and acknowledge the OPTIONS method.

Caching

In computing, a cache is a high-speed data storage layer which stores data, typically a set of data, so that future requests for that data are served up faster than by accessing the original location.

CARTO caching allows you to efficiently reuse previously retrieved or computed data, as the data in a cache is stored by CARTO in fast access hardware in combination with specific software to manage this.

Accessing data from memory is orders of magnitude faster than accessing data from disk. CARTO cache is an integrated cache, an in-memory layer that automatically caches frequently accessed data from the origin database. Being an integrated cache, cached data is consistent with the data stored on disk.

To understand whether a request is served through cache you can dig into the HTTP Headers. If the request has indeed been cached (cache HIT), there you will find all the relevant information.

Other Tools

Throughout the years, we have developed a few applications that may ease your developer experience while building your geospatial application with CARTO. Most of them started as “leapfrog” projects, out of the bucket of hours CARTO employees can spend on their own individual projects. We do our best to keep these tools maintained and updated, and provide support to all of them. However, they do not necessarily comply with CARTO’s development quality procedures and you should only use them in production at your own risk.