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Old 17-03-2008, 13:50   #1
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OpenCPN

Hello All...

I'm Dave, the author of OpenCPN.

I'm sorry some have had trouble with installing and using the program.
It is still in active development, with lots of known and unknown bugs.
We try not to release a version that crashes or hangs up under "normal"
use, but obviously you have had problems.

We are seriously looking for active users willing to provide specific
feedback on installation and usage problems. Specific bugs can be corrected
in days, usually. Please contact me on or off-list if you would like to help.

We are committed to bringing OpenCPN up to world-class standard. The
object is not to displace the many fine commercial products available, but to
enable a viable Open Source alternative usable by real cruisers. OpenCPN
will never be (and can never be) a commercial product.

Personal note: Just returned from annual winter Bahamas cruise. I'm in
culture shock at Palm Beach, FL. Back in the developement saddle now.
We are full-time cruisers with frequent WiFi communications.

Dave
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Old 17-03-2008, 14:01   #2
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Current OpenCPN Version

OpenCPN Version 1.2.2 is current.
Here is a link:
SourceForge.net: Files

The previous version, 1.2.0, had problems similar to those reported by Pblais.

Also, any info on Operating System (98/XP/Vista) would be useful.

Finally, OpenCPN creates a log file as it runs. The contents are especially
useful if a crash occurs when loading a specific chart. The log file is in
the same folder as opencpn.exe, and is called, imaginatively enough, opencpn.log.

Thanks in advance for all your input and feedback.

Dave
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Old 17-03-2008, 14:06   #3
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Quote:
The log file is in
the same folder as opencpn.exe, and is called, imaginatively enough, opencpn.log.
I never got that far since no log file was made. I'll try the new version.
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Old 17-03-2008, 15:02   #4
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Version 1.2.2 runs much better and actually works to the extent it's finished. The ENC display seems to have a few issues:

1. It would be nice to display feet instead of meters and be able to control the depth values for the deep and shallow water.

2. Panning between ENC maps is slow requiring a reload that can take quite a while and not as seamless as most other ENC applications.

I do like the integration of WxTide. It was a nice approach and I like the way it works. I have not tried GPS connections yet but I was using my own ENC library and it sucked it well enough as far as I can tell.

The y it figures which maps to use seems hard to understand and I don't really have a good idea of what it is supposed to do. The display at the bottom of the screen is too cryptic with the colors and bars to make any sense of it. It might be nice to have a very high level world map to zoom into.

The basic ENC rendering seems to be accurate and mostly complete. It needs some better logic on how it works with text. That is an area few applications get right in ENC the text should come on and off as the zoom level changes and scale accordingly.
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Old 17-03-2008, 20:59   #5
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OpenCPN 1.2.2

Pblais....

Thanks for your feedback. I have some comments.

1. Deep/Safety/Shallow depth parameters setting is coming in Version 1.2.4, due
next week. Not sure about conversion of meters to ft. Have to think on that...

2. ENC Reload time is too long. OpenCPN caches charts internally to minimize
reloads. The caching parameters are build-time options. I'll look at optimizing them.

3. Chart selection. OK, this one is interesting. The chart selection bar with all its colored boxes represents a "chart stack", which is a list of all the charts loaded containing the geographical point represented by the center of the displayed chart window. The charts are sorted by scale. Blue boxes are RNC, green are ENC.

OpenCPN does not "quilt", so exactly one chart is open at any one time. To help choose the chart you want, the chart is previewed in the corner of the screen when the mouse is placed over any box. Click on a box, and that chart is loaded.

This all makes most sense when a GPS is connected, and the "auto-follow" button is activated. In this case, OpenCPN finds the charts that are most interesting, i.e. those which contain your present position and areas nearby.
It is also useful to enable chart outlines in the tools dialog, and then select the largest scale chart, (the right-most box in the bar), and zoom out. Double-click on any point to re-center the chart.

Anyway, this is all intuitive to me, but of course it came out of my head, so it should be, I guess. What could I do to make it more intuitive to you?

4. ENC Text. De-cluttering of ENC text is on the list for next release 1.2.4. I have
not seen any ENC program which scales the size of text as one zooms in and out.
Can you point me at one, so I can take a look at it and possibly implement something
similar? I don't think this feature is specified by the IMO S-52 ECDIS presentation
library standards.....

Thanks a lot for your input. It is really valuable to get new eyes on this thing as development proceeeds.

Dave
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Old 18-03-2008, 07:04   #6
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The cache seems to use a great deal of memory but yields little speed. I loaded up the ones near me for the Chesapeake and moving between them was difficult. Loading times of 2 minutes on some of the larger ones. You need your own spacial indexing system so you are not loading the whole chart when you don't need it then throwing away the details you don't have on. If you load up all the ENC VA, MD, PA, And DE charts and move around a little bit I think you can get an idea. You may want to build a middle level zoom display that shows depth colors and some labels maybe nav aids without text and no depth. You need a better overview zoom level for the ENC that quilts.

You also have a problem rendering shallow water. If you load USVA18M (far south central end of the Chesapeake "Little Creek") You will see shallow water rendered black.

Quilting with raster charts is not required as I have that ability to auto load them too and it is just fine as you have overview charts as well as detail charts.

ENC charts quilt quite easily if you manage the display detail based on zoom and scale. Right now I use Fugawi and I really like the ENC quilting (get the 30 day demo). There are no user defined layer controls other than depths and feet / meters and a few area selection displays options and I find no more are needed. These are the settings you do one time then never change them. Actually no more are wanted. It's hard enough to navigate without having to deal with turning layers on and off. The same goes for text. Based on zoom it should just be there or go away. Forgetting to turn on the right layers could be a disaster. Zoom level should let you see more without requesting it. Just as a test I did a short travel by panning to a location I know quite well and found the map seams in the ENC display fell at all the worst possible places. The map stack works fine for raster maps but is of no use in ENC displays. You really don't need them for anything useful. I can't see mixing raster / ENC in the same location but of course some places are only raster. Changing between them is confusing. You should be able to turn off raster or ENC completely.

The object query tool can replace a lot of text (not depths) but the format of the display would look better with a tree control and smaller text for the query result. I find I have to left right scroll and that is awkward.

Depth in feet is more an issue of the way my depth sounder works - it won't display meters. It's too hard to convert in your head when the water is shallow and you really need to know the numbers. Offshore of course it's helpful but not always critical.

The map stack idea I sort of picked up on. It's not easy to get all this application with no documentation at all. Even a 5 page overview would be enough for me.

Things that would be nice:

A window zoom function should be added. Draw a box with a mouse then auto scale to fit the screen.

Sync to the desktop edition of Google Earth.
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Old 18-03-2008, 07:33   #7
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Paul...
Thanks for the detailed feedback. This really helps.

Cache: I'll try what you suggested, loading lots of ENC at once, and looking at the speed. One point: The first time you load an ENC chart, opencpn creates a SENC file, which is a conversion of the ENC database format to a displayable graphics representation. This can take a bit of time, but is only done once per chart.
The SENC file is stored on disk with the original ENC .000 file.

Speed optimization is one of my biggest objectives. Sluggish performance at the helm underway is not good. Too much else going on the be waiting for a repaint.

I'll check USVA18M.

Object Query: Agreed, the current display is primitive. More work needed.

Quilting ENC: I see your points. Seamless ENC display based on scale/zoom is desirable. I'll give that higher priority for further development.

Same for a window zoom.

Again, thanks. Helps me prioritize my work. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Dave
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Old 19-03-2008, 17:57   #8
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Paul...

I cannot find the black shallow water on US5VA18M (Little Creek).
Could you please tell me where it shows on your system? And maybe try an Object Query on the depth area feature in question?

Thanks
Dave
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Old 19-03-2008, 20:19   #9
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You need to download a new ENC map to see it.
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Old 20-03-2008, 13:46   #10
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deb file creation

I am having trouble compiling this program in Ubuntu and I was wondering if you could package this program in a .deb file so all the depencencies and libraries would be included in the file and the system would automatically download what it needed (if possible).

If you added this program to a repository, it would be exceedingly easy to install.

It is a shame that linux is so much more difficult to deal with than Windows.

Thanks
Aaron Low
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Old 20-03-2008, 14:32   #11
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It is a shame that linux is so much more difficult to deal with than Windows.
Didn't Steve Balmer say that?
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Old 20-03-2008, 14:36   #12
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He may have, but most window's programs are already compiled. I imagine that if I had to compile the program in windows it would be many times worse than Linux.
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Old 21-03-2008, 16:17   #13
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Paul...

Still no joy reproducing the error on US5VA18M. Latest chart downloaded, with 2 updates applied. OpenCPN 1.2.2 on XP Pro SP2. No sign of black water on any of my systems...

If you have the time, could you please give me some more info, such as the Object Query results for the omitted DEPARE feature, and maybe a screen shot?

Thanks
Dave.
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Old 21-03-2008, 16:27   #14
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Aaron...

Regarding Ubuntu: We have held off packaging a Ubuntu .deb release so far, since we are still in heavy duty development mode.

We have one other Ubuntu tester, also reporting problems. This is under analysis now. Getting OpenCPN to compile and run on Ubuntu is my top priority. I'm planning formal Ubuntu support in the next (1.2.4) release.

That said, I'd be happy to help with your compile issues online right now.
It would be a big help to me, as well. Tracking down all the dependencies in order to package a .deb release benefits from lots of trials on many different user's systems. More feedback is great.

If you will send me some of your compiler output, off-list, I'll get right on it.

Thanks
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Old 21-03-2008, 19:53   #15
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Quote:
and maybe a screen shot?
Send me a PM so I can send it to a real eamil address.
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