Using Tyk to serve millions of complex route maps to consumers.


Heidelberg University is one of the world’s oldest universities, and enrols over 30,000 students every year. The University’s focus on cutting-edge research means that 56 Nobel Prize winners are associated with Heidelberg, and around 1000 doctorates are completed every year.

Within the research domain GIScience, the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) focuses on the investigation and development of new web-based Geographic InformationServices (GIS) in different application domains.

HeiGIT deals with a number of public facing and internal APIs, with traffic of approximately 1m requests per month. One of the prominent research projects for HeiGIT is openrouteservice.org, which provides an alternative to Google Maps directions. Rather than use Google data, the service is provided using open, crowd-sourced and free geographic data from openstreetmap.


In order to ensure that the openrouteservice.org project is as open as its name, HeiGIT and the project team  opened up their route and map APIs to the public. As the project grew in scope and popularity, though, HeiGIT faced numerous challenges with managing their API using XML.

First of all, response times were slow and requests difficult to engineer. This meant a poor user experience and limits on innovation. Gaining access to the API and an API key was also a manual process dependent on the openrouteservice team – if someone was working on other projects, users might have to wait a long time.

Finally, the openrouteservice API also often experienced downtime owing to stability issues.

All of these challenges needed to be solved, and in a way that was quick to implement, easy to manage and low cost. With exciting new features in the works, HeiGIT felt it was the right time to explore using a new open source API Gateway and API Management solution.


After doing some research into possible API Gateway and Management solutions, HeiGIT quickly determined that Tyk would be the best fit for this project.

The most compelling reason? Tyk is one of the few Open Source API Gateways and API Management Portals, and openness is integral both to the mission of HeiGIT and the openrouteservice product itself.

Next up – Tyk’s host of features. HeiGIT needed a product that could scale with minimal cost, whilst providing full enterprise API Management features including a fully customisable self-service portal, swagger support and versioning. Tyk was able to provide all the features required, and with the best value for money.


Owing to Tyk’s simplicity,  HeiGIT were able to implement Tyk’s API Gateway on their servers within just 2 days.

For times when support was needed, HeiGIT were able to draw on the collective wisdom of the Tyk Community, Tyk GitHub, and, of course, the Tyk engineering team for technical help.

What’s more, as soon as the initial API Gateway setup was complete, HeiGIT could begin to manage and monitor their 9 APIs using the dashboard.

As well as those need-to-have features that formed part of HeiGIT’s initial product investigations, most-used features include API definition, API traffic graphs and token management.

In addition, HeiGIT have used the customisation abilities of the Tyk developer portal to quickly produce and publish an engaging and accessible interface that helps them better serve the 4000+ developers using the open route service API.

For more information, download the full case study

Heidelberg case study

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