... deafening silence on this thread...
Let me air some parochial remarks on the future of vector charts in France
Background: 105 000 sailboats between 6 and 18 m (+ 379 000 motors boats from 5 to 18 m)
4-5 ago, Opencpn
was a very hot topic on the major French sailing forum. One, later two evangelists (including Gilletarom a frequent contributor here) wrote detailed hand-on tutorials in French that proved very popular.
Today, announcements of new versions / functionalities immediately sink to the bottom of the front page without comments.
On the other hand, any thread concerning Android charting apps (and iOS to a lesser extent) attracts a large number of comments. Questions on Navionics
apps and charts are very frequent, revealing new users with very fuzzy ideas on what electronic charting is. Others brands are seldom mentioned.
It is not difficult to understand why. Smartphones and tablets are in everyone's pocket or case, and 'droid sailing apps and charts are dirt cheap
I believe that OpenCpn
introduced people to electronic charting at home, but as a computer cannot easily be fitted in the smaller boats, they immediately fell for smaller (and cheaper) tools when they became available. Also, only CM93 charts are 'available' for OpenCpn in France
, as in most European countries (except mainly UK).
(BTW and IMHO, an OpenCpn port for Android phones / tablets is mandatory if this effort is to survive)
Now, is there a future for S-63 or S-57 vector charts ?
IMHO, as far as France is concerned the answer is NO
- The main drawback is that the chart coverage is poor: there are glaring gaps in large scale coverage in popular sailing regions far from a commercial
harbor (pic 1, northern Brittany, pic 2 : the western Med French coast with 12 500 sailboats). I just cannot enter my home marina (800+ boats) with those charts (pic 3). This coverage has officially been reported to be 'complete'.
- The price
tag is likely to remain high: the seapilot S57 chart price
for France alone is twice Navionics' for most of Europe
I started a thread on Seapilot's offer in the major French forum, outlining pros and cons. There were absolutely no comments. A thread on a new routing app on 'droid drew 70 in a few days.
- Competition with official raster charts will be fierce. At the same price, the coverage is complete, and their look and feel is more familiar to new users. The popular Weather4D grib app has announced support for these charts, turning into a charting program, with an already large base of users.