About OpenCPN

About OpenCPN

OpenCPN is an open source Chart Plotter Navigator

This software program is intended for use in navigation of vessels of all types and sizes, using public domain GIS data and positioning information.

OpenCPN is a GUI application. It runs on a computer desktop display, most often at the helm station of a vessel underway, although it may be used off-line as a route planning tool.

About OpenCPN

It provides the user with a GUI display showing the vessel's current position, speed and course superimposed upon accurate navigational chart images. Tide and current predictions may also be displayed as desired.

Information received by standard radio links describing the position and intent of other vessels is also shown selectively. As the host vessel moves, new charts are selected and displayed at user specified resolution and detail. Further, the user may enter routes and waypoints allowing interface to an external autopilot for precise course following when desired.

OpenCPN is cross-platform. Developed in C++, using the wxWidgets toolkit, it has been ported to Linus, W98, and Windows XP, Mac OSX. OpenCPN uses public domain chart data, provided by the U.S. government by download from the internet. This is the same data commonly used by existing commercial products of this sort.

OpenCPN accepts positioning input from GPS receivers directly. It also supports TCP/IP networked positioning input as a client to the GPSD daemon, often used on *nix systems.

OpenCPN supports input from AIS (Automated Identification System) receivers, providing additional safety features to those vessels so equipped.

Compare to Commercial Products

OpenCPN is Unique Relative to Existing Commercial Products in the Following Ways:
  • Open Source (GPL), of course.

  • OpenCPN has a concise feature set, producing small code size and acceptable performance on minimal hardware resources.

  • OpenCPN supports GPSD, an Open Source standard for communicating GPS positioning information over TCP/IP networks.

  • OpenCPN supports Vector format charts, in what is known as the S57ENC format. No other Open Source GUI application is known to do so.

  • OpenCPN supports CM93 Vector charts. No other Open Source GUI application is known to do so.

  • OpenCPN supports AIS data streams. Again, no other Open Source GUI application is known to do so

OpenCPN Current Status Is
  1. Production release state. Feature set is consistent and usable.

  2. Ported to W32, Linux (X11 and GTK) and Mac OSX.

  3. In daily use aboard the author's personal cruising yacht, Dyad, for years.

  4. Stable.

  5. Downloads available at opencpn.org.

OpenCPN Implementation Details
1. Linux: GNU tool chain, wxWidgets toolkit. Standard (i.e. ./configure... build) installation method.

2. W32: Commercial make/C++ toolset.

3. Mac OSX: XCode Project Files and GNU tool chain building method.