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Old 17-12-2014, 08:02   #1
Jd1
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Active Captain on OpenCPN

This mornings newsletter from Active Captain announced a new API for Active Captain for the new year. Apparently OpenCPN will be the first software using it.
It will apparently only be a one way communication so you can't leave a review or whatever.
I for one will be looking forward to this potentially huge step forward!!!




From the newsletter:
There are two major new developments that are coming soon through an initiative we're calling, "ActiveCaptain Everywhere": - ActiveCaptain on chartplotters. We've been working on this for four years. The data needed to be good enough and worldwide enough to make sense for the chartplotter manufacturers to add it to their hardware. It's happening now and we're going to have some announcements about it early next year. - ActiveCaptain's Open API. The existing offline synchronized API is licensed (and free). It integrates ActiveCaptain data inside another product and allows use of the data in many ways. But some products can't license the data even though it costs nothing. So we developed an Open API that is simple to integrate and requires no license. This makes it very easy for any product or website to add ActiveCaptain support although there's no data sharing - it only displays the ActiveCaptain details and reviews. The first release of this will be with OpenCPN, a free chartplotter software product. We'll let you know when that's available to use.
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Old 18-12-2014, 08:03   #2
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Somebody working on a plugin? or

Announce it and they will come?
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Old 18-12-2014, 08:52   #3
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

I think with an Active Captain plug-in OpenCPN will be going the wrong track, Active Captain is not an Open Source project at all. What will happen with Active Captain on the long run, still free to use? commercial?

I even doubt about the number off users who are waiting for such a plug-in.

Just my 2 cents

CeesH
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:18   #4
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiziger View Post
I think with an Active Captain plug-in OpenCPN will be going the wrong track, Active Captain is not an Open Source project at all. What will happen with Active Captain on the long run, still free to use? commercial?

I even doubt about the number off users who are waiting for such a plug-in.
CeesH
My understanding of the situation:
Active Captain is not involved in any plug-in. All they are doing is publishing the hooks (API) that a developer can use to grab data from Active Captain. It is completely irrelevant if AC is open source or not.
AC was not integrated in the past because the existing API was a licensed closed source (but free) product. This new product involves no licenses at all and is open and therefore compatible with the open source concept.

I for one can't wait to use just one program instead of flipping back and forth between AC and OpeCPN.
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Old 18-12-2014, 12:29   #5
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by wdkester View Post
Somebody working on a plugin?
Yes, somebody is working on a plugin, but I don't know who.

Quoting Jeff of ActiveCaptain on another forum:

Quote:
I'm currently working with one of the main OpenCPN developers on an ActiveCaptain PlugIn. He's writing the OCPN part and I'm developing a new open API to ActiveCaptain that doesn't need the same type of licensing. OpenCPN will be the first user of it. Development is progressing well...
I volunteered to test and even help with development if/as needed there. I do so again here.

I can't wait for this plugin personally.
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Old 10-01-2015, 14:02   #6
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

I have been eagerly awaiting this feature, too! When planning trips right now I have to switch back and forth between OpenCPN and ActiveCaptain.com, and it's less than ideal. Sometimes I don't have Internet access and using ActiveCaptain.com is out of the question. Having the two integrated and available to run disconnected from the Internet would be an incredibly useful capability! Any idea on the timeframe? I would be very happy to beta test this!
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Old 10-01-2015, 20:18   #7
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

I use both Plan2Nav (Jeppensen) with active captain and Navionics with their own messenger system on my cellphone.
Active Captain is a horrible implementation of a good idea, worst of all, lacking two way communication, second, it is business oriented, third downloading the huge whole world database daily and every time instead of my navigation area only. I am not so much interested in the next resto on the shore, but in the uncharted rock ahead of me. This is much better implemented the Navionics way. One sailor detects whatever, a mark on the chart, writes a comment and finished, online for everyone. AC, switch program, log-in (what was my password again?), write a story with location input and sometimes it will be online. A horror. But Navionics database is probably off limits for openCPN as are their charts.
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Old 12-01-2015, 06:19   #8
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by blubaju View Post
I use both Plan2Nav (Jeppensen) with active captain and Navionics with their own messenger system on my cellphone.
Active Captain is a horrible implementation of a good idea, worst of all, lacking two way communication, second, it is business oriented, third downloading the huge whole world database daily and every time instead of my navigation area only. I am not so much interested in the next resto on the shore, but in the uncharted rock ahead of me. This is much better implemented the Navionics way. One sailor detects whatever, a mark on the chart, writes a comment and finished, online for everyone. AC, switch program, log-in (what was my password again?), write a story with location input and sometimes it will be online. A horror. But Navionics database is probably off limits for openCPN as are their charts.
Sorry, I'm not sure I see the relevance of how good or bad your cellphone apps are to the discussion of implementing an ActiveCaptain plug-in to OpenCPN. Apples and oranges and all that. I think it would be a super-welcome addition.

If you want to have an apples and oranges discussion, I have a Navionics card in my on-deck chart plotter, and I have found their "community" data to be pretty much worthless. Plus, to update the data on my Navionics micro SD card took me SIX MONTHS on and off of working with their tech support, and their eventual solution to the problem was for me to delete all the data on my card and then spend about six hours manually selecting and downloading tiles of limited chart areas in order to fit both the charts and community edits on the same Navionics micro SD card (which is only 2GB and impossible to upgrade). Not to mention the fact that I have found gobs of errors on their nautical charts. Personally I'm not impressed with Navionics as either a charting or community solution, which is why I use OpenCPN for all my below-decks planning, route creation, and navigation, why I use ActiveCaptain.com for evaluating new anchorages, and why I only use my chart plotter with Navionics charts and their community edits for a waterproof cockpit display while actually underway.

To get back to the point, what I really want is the ability to read and see the location of ActiveCaptain anchorages within OpenCPN to assist with planning where I am going to anchor as I travel. I don't care if the interface is only one-way, because most of the time I'm in places where I don't have Internet access. I just want to be able to have the ActiveCaptain database available offline and be able to view its markers overlayed on my charts in OpenCPN.

To whomever on the OpenCPN project decides where to direct manpower for development efforts, I say please make completing an ActiveCaptain plugin a high priority!

Thanks!
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:49   #9
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim326 View Post
Sorry, I'm not sure I see the relevance of how good or bad your cellphone apps are to the discussion of implementing an ActiveCaptain plug-in to OpenCPN. Apples and oranges and all that. I think it would be a super-welcome addition.

To get back to the point, what I really want is the ability to read and see the location of ActiveCaptain anchorages within OpenCPN to assist with planning where I am going to anchor as I travel. I don't care if the interface is only one-way, because most of the time I'm in places where I don't have Internet access. I just want to be able to have the ActiveCaptain database available offline and be able to view its markers overlayed on my charts in OpenCPN.

To whomever on the OpenCPN project decides where to direct manpower for development efforts, I say please make completing an ActiveCaptain plugin a high priority!

Thanks!
Ditto here. I find the AC data very useful. I do have other resources, but that's my go-to source for information about anchorages, moorings and marinas.

I tend to put some thought into my AC reviews and updates, so I don't think I'd want to make them underway even if I could. I'd prefer others do the same. I suspect it would become less useful if everyone could post a continuous stream of off-the-cuff remarks. That's what Twitter is for.

I've used Plan2Nav, but I find MX Mariner more to my liking. Either way, I don't blame the AC data if I don't like the app.

The entire world database of AC data isn't downloaded every time. Only the changes. And with most apps I've used, you only download when you decide you have the time and bandwidth.

I can't wait to be able to use AC data on OCPN on my laptop!
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Old 12-01-2015, 22:01   #10
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim326 View Post
Sorry, I'm not sure I see the relevance of how good or bad your cellphone apps are to the discussion of implementing an ActiveCaptain plug-in to OpenCPN. Apples and oranges and all that. I think it would be a super-welcome addition.

If you want to have an apples and oranges discussion, ....

To get back to the point, what I really want is the ability to read and see the location of ActiveCaptain anchorages within OpenCPN to assist with planning where I am going to anchor as I travel. I don't care if the interface is only one-way, because most of the time I'm in places where I don't have Internet access. I just want to be able to have the ActiveCaptain database available offline and be able to view its markers overlayed on my charts in OpenCPN.

To whomever on the OpenCPN project decides where to direct manpower for development efforts, I say please make completing an ActiveCaptain plugin a high priority!

Thanks!


Hello Jim326,

sorry if I touched some sensitive point, every additional information one receives on sea might be useful. Did I write it should NOT be done? Sorry, this is a misinterpretation.

It was only about how it is done. Everytime I open my Nav-app I receive a 6 minute LTE update of Active Captain offline data. Navionics handles this differently. That only was my point.

I have no idea how it will be implemented in openCPN, I can only compare the 2 implementations I see.

Why is this apples and oranges? It is in both cases communities input, so it is the same kind, it is fruit.

You started to compare charts, now that is another topic I do not want to follow up here, only these few words, compared with yacht prices electronic charts on PDA's or cellphones cost nothing. Careless not to use them or only one. All have their blind spots, some do better in one way or the other, I use 4 systems incl. good old paper, lightning is not so far. Never ever I would say one is the only and best. I would hit container ports missing in CMAP and miss wonderfull passages and anchor places relying on Navionics. So what.

Fair winds and following seas
sailing is a nice hobby, take it easy,

Heinrich
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Old 02-02-2015, 17:15   #11
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

I have used AC now going on three years and it keeps improving. I don't use it for navigation obviously but for additional information about anchorages, fuel, marinas etc. If three other sailors think a particular anchorage is bombproof then it probably is.

I have also been pleased to be able to add my own two cents here and there as I find suitable spots for a night or two. Maybe next year I will find them more crowded but I like the idea of helping other mariners too.

I had been using MacENC and iNavx on my macbook and iPad respectively but am considering moving to OpenCPN with the addition of an AC plugin. I am also looking forward to a Navico radar plugin to avoid the unnecessary expense of a big chartplotter when I have enough MacBooks and iPads to keep everyone happy.

I also have been using a program called Charts and Tides on the iPad. It has it limitations but its one great advantage is AC integration.
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Old 04-02-2015, 20:06   #12
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Hmmm....

Quote:
Originally Posted by nohal View Post
pkrawetzky...
As I am the guy who has been working on the plugin and had to deal with Jeff's lovely personality out of his marketing newsletters, I have read his comments on Facebook with *utmost* interest.
So here is the reality of the so called ActiveCaptain Open API (State before it was deleted from their servers without any explanation or notice before the end of 2014):
- Data not available offline at all
- Totally insecure and vulnerable to man in the middle attacks and identity theft
- The only function I refused to implement, which seems to be interpreted by JS as "So he took the mostly completed plugin and threw it away." (opening a browser at activecaptain.com to make updates to the markers) was broken completely by design, so I asked him to implement a real API for it, otherwise it won't be included in the plugin.

As to the statement about the code not being available, it is and has always been at https://bitbucket.org/nohal/ac_pi - feel free to fork and finish it.

I am far from calling Jeff a total liar, so let's say we most likely have a different perception of reality. I am also personally done with this subject and ActiveCaptain in general once and for all.

Thanks

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Old 05-02-2015, 20:33   #13
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

Folks...

The Active Captain PlugIn for OpenCPN is on indefinite hold.

The reasons are purely technical. The current OpenAPI interface to the Active Captain dataset is deficient in several respects.

1. The user must be online to access the data.
2. There is no facility for caching the Active Captain data locally.
3. There is no integrated facility for uploading data to the Active Captain dataset. The expectation is that the user will manually switch from OpenCPN to a conventional browser like IE, log in, make the update, and then switch back to OCPN.
4. There are serious security loopholes which may compromise a users's Active Captain credentials. I won't discuss this further.

An OpenCPN PlugIn implemented to this API would result in a hobbled, second-class user experience, and would benefit no-one.

So, we will pass for now.

We remain interested in the concept, and look forward to continued evolution of the Active Captain API.

Meanwhile, if you want or need Active Captain support, there are a variety of high quality ECS solutions available in the commercial marketplace. Take your pick.

Dave
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:41   #14
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

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Originally Posted by bdbcat View Post
Folks...

The Active Captain PlugIn for OpenCPN is on indefinite hold.

The reasons are purely technical. The current OpenAPI interface to the Active Captain dataset is deficient in several respects.

1. The user must be online to access the data.
2. There is no facility for caching the Active Captain data locally.
3. There is no integrated facility for uploading data to the Active Captain dataset. The expectation is that the user will manually switch from OpenCPN to a conventional browser like IE, log in, make the update, and then switch back to OCPN.
4. There are serious security loopholes which may compromise a users's Active Captain credentials. I won't discuss this further.

An OpenCPN PlugIn implemented to this API would result in a hobbled, second-class user experience, and would benefit no-one.

So, we will pass for now.

We remain interested in the concept, and look forward to continued evolution of the Active Captain API.

Meanwhile, if you want or need Active Captain support, there are a variety of high quality ECS solutions available in the commercial marketplace. Take your pick.

Dave
All of this is just my opinion, so worth what you paid for..

I use O in two primary use cases: Trip planning, and active navigation. While the Active Captain plugin would be an interesting aside during active navigation, it would be a major benefit for trip planning. In fact, I often have both programs up today. So, with that in mind:

#1 and #2 are not limitations, just set the expectation correctly. As in, the OCPN/AC plugin will only work with an active internet connection. In many (most?) cases, where the user is in trip-planning mode for example, this will not be a problem.

#3 is unfortunate -- but for version one make the plugin read-only until a better solution is developed.

#4 This is a bad one. I understand that you won't (and shouldn't) explain further. But rather than abandon the effort maybe focus on fixing that?

In short, I'm disappointed to hear that the plugin is being placed on indefinite hold. I reiterate my desire for this plugin, as well as my offer to help.
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:31   #15
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Re: Active Captain on OpenCPN

I too have a desire to see this connection between OpenCPN and AC completed. I was involved in the original conversation which frankly turned into a bashing contest. Completely unprofessional attitude by all involved.

I started using PolarNavy but OpenCPN has many more plug-ins that I like to use. Switching back and forth is not an acceptable solution.

OpenCPN and AC have a huge following and it would seem to me that it would be in both parties interest to resolve the differences and move forward. All of the issues identified are easily corrected - I know, I've been in IT for 29 years. There is always a way to program the details and make it work.

Do us all a favor and re-open the dialog professionally. This would be a huge win-win for everyone...

Thanks.
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