OpenCPN 3.0 Release Announcement

The version is a major feature upgrade and maintenance release of OpenCPN.

OpenCPN is a free and OpenSource navigation package running on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh computers.

Some features of OpenCPN include:
 - Quilted Raster(RNC) and Vector(ENC) digital chart display
 - Industry standard GPS receiver interfacing, with "moving map" on-screen vessel tracking.
 - AIS receiver interfacing with configurable target safety monitoring
 - Integrated Route, Track, and Waypoint database, with industry standard Import/Export capabilities
 - Tide and Current prediction, with on-screen overlay of predicted data.
 - Broad International Language support

OpenCPN is designed to be easy to install, configure, and use daily.
OpenCPN may be freely downloaded and installed without cost, registration, or time limits.
Read the full release statment.

OpenCPN Version 3.0.2, Released 2012-07-07

OpenCPN Version 3.0.2 is released, and available for immediate download.
This Service Release corrects several small bugs found in the recent 3.0.0 field release.
It incorporates no new features.
Read about known issues in the 3.0.2 release.

What's new in 3.0?

OpenGL display mode

OpenGL is an open standard, cross platform, advanced graphic library. It uses the graphic cards processor (GPU) and memory, to speed up applications. With OpenCPN a user with a typical modern graphic card will have an enhanced experience. Much faster and smoother zooming and panning as well as clearer and sharper chart rendering.
In OpenCPN OpenGL is a choice, the old graphic engine is still there. OpenGL will not work for everyone. Performance may not be improved with embedded graphics chips, often found in older laptops and netbooks.

Notes about OpenGL mode on laptops and other computers with Intel integrated graphics running Windows: The support of OpenGL in the drivers for these graphics cards is known to be problematic. If you experience performance problems with OpenCPN after longer periods of use with vector charts, there are two things you can do, depending on what driver you are running.
If you are running the older Intel GMA driver, usually found on netbooks and other machines with Atom processors, go into the 3D settings under Display Settings / Advanced / Intel Graphics, and try changing the setting called "Device Memory Footprint" to "Low". This improves performance with vector charts but may affect the possibility to display raster charts.

If you are running the more recent Intel HD Graphics driver, usually found on Core iX laptops, your best bet is to make sure you are running the most recent driver version from Intel. Note that this is sometimes different from the driver supplied or recommended by your computer manufacturer, so you might be closing yourself out from their support by installing this. You can get the current version from, under the "Graphics" product family.

Read more about OpenGL in the documentation .

Many features in 3.0 depends on OpenGL mode to work. One longstanding user request is now working in GL mode. For ENC charts, all text and numbers are always displayed horizontal in "Course Up" mode. Have a look at this!

Chart groups

You can now group charts according to any criteria you like, allowing to switch between chart types or editions at any time.
Read more about Chart groups in the documentation.

Portability option (-p)

The new portable mode not only allows to run OpenCPN from a removable media such as a USB memory-stick, but also allows to run multiple instances of OpenCPN with completely different settings at the same time.

Read more about the portability option in the documentation.

Reworked waypoint properties dialog

A new enhanced dialog for waypoint properties was implemented, allowing to easily define links to local documents and pictures or information on the Internet

Read more about marks  here.

Enhanced performance and new track to route algorithm

The performance, especially while working with long tracks, was greatly improved. While converting a recorded track to a route a simplifying algorithm is used to eliminate unneeded points and produce routes that are easier to work with.

Enhanced display styling possibilities

Route and track styling

It is now possible to set line color and style for the routes and tracks, allowing for better visual organization of the display.

More about Routes and tracks here.

Configurable default waypoint icon

You can now set the default icon assigned to the newly created waypoints.
More here.

Current Arrow scaling

It is possible to set the scale at which the current arrows are displayed over the chart, allowing to adjust the display to be lucid in both areas with strong and weak currents.
More here.

Track highlighting

This is a new entry in the Toolbox-> ETC tab.

More here.

Own ship icon scaling

It is possible to set the real size of the boat and make the icon scale with the chart.
Read more here.

Support for user definable tidal and current data

Opencpn now supports multiple sets of tide and current data, in the same format as 2.5.
More here.

AIS display enhancements

Implement AIS SART, Search and Rescue Target, detection and display.

It is now viable to use a personal SART and OpenCPN as an MOB, Man Over Board, tracking system.

Active SART AIS icon
Testing SART AIS icon

More about SART here.

DSC NMEA sentences support

Normal DSC stations and DSC emergencies are visible with special icons, if the are available in the AIS NMEA stream.


DSC emergency a Buddie and more.

GPSGate Buddies display support

Same thing, as for DSC
Read more about DSC and Buddies here.

AIS binary Area messages

Basic support is available now. Expect more in future versions.
Here is a teaser....

Read more here.

Plugin API enhancements

Plugin messaging API

It is now possible for the plugins to exchange messages, bringing new possibilities for interoperability.

The WMM, magnetic variaion plugin, is using the new Plugin API to display the current variation in the TooBar button itself.


Transparent overlays

This feature is used, for example, by a new KML & KMZ plugin under development.
An example below.


Track Merging

If you have ever hit the Track icon by mistake, or closed down OpenCPN in the middle of a passage, you know that it's very frustrating to have a journey split up in a number of different tracks that do not come together.

This can now be fixed. You can select any number of tracks in the Track tab of the Route Manager window, right click the mouse to bring up the context menu, and choose to Merge Selected Tracks. The selected tracks will be merged in chronological order, with the track properties (name, color etc) of the resulting track keeping those of the earliest track in the selection.

More here.

Double click on objects bring up the appropriate query dialog

A double click on any place or object on a vector chart (except when the cursor is a green arrow), will bring up the Object Query window with detailed information about the objects at the clicked location. The Object Query window has also been redesigned to be easier to read. To query a new object or location you can just double click again, there is no need to close the window between queries.

Double clicking on an AIS target will show the AIS Query Window instead.

Comprehensive information on Lights in the Object Query dialog

The vector charts contain lots of detailed information about light sectors. In earlier releases this information was presented in a way that it was difficult to get a complete information about a light without a lot of clicking around in the Object Query window. This information is now formatted according to the standard abbreviated light characteristics, and has been grouped together for each light.

New hot-keys

A few new hotkeys makes switching between detailed navigation style displays and less cluttered planning or overview styles a lot quicker. Each new key will toggle a defined set of objects between visible and invisible. NOTE! These keys will only operate in the "Mariners Standard" display category. For the other display categories the set of visible object classes is controlled by the category. For real navigation, especially in shallow and/or restricted waters, use the display category "Other", to ensure that all essential information is visible on the screen.

To improve consistency the two older hotkeys that affected visibility have been moved. All keys that just affect visibilities are now unmodified. The currently defined keys are:

T Texts. The visible texts are still affected by the settings in the Vector Charts settings tab.
L Lights. Lighthouses as well as buoys etc are all affected.
S Soundings.
R Rocks. This will affect various types of underwater obstructions that are not necessary for over planning purposes: Rocks, obstructions, wrecks.
O Chart Outlines

Major overhaul of the architecture for defining vector chart symbols

Release 3.0 features a completely new format for the definition of vector chart symbols. Symbol attributes are now stored in XML format, making it much easier to manipulate. The actual symbols are defined in a single PNG file, where they can easily be edited using any contemporary image editor.

The actual symbols themselves have also been given an overhaul. The ability of the new architecture to work with transparency and anti-aliasing makes it possible to create clearer symbol graphics that blend together better on cluttered displays. Together with some other fine tuning of the vector chart renderer this produces an overall chart look which is more polished and focused on important visual information.

More on the new format is available in the forum at Chart-symbols - The Next Generation.

User selectable font face in vector charts

It is now possible to select what font is used for text on vector charts. There is a new entry in the Text Element menu on the Languages/Fonts tab of the ToolBox window, called ChartTexts. Here you select what face to use, and a template size. Weight and final size of the displayed texts depends on the chart you are using, but if the charts contain various weights and sizes, they will all scale together depending on what size you select.

Tip: There are several modern typefaces specifically designed for good readability in small sizes on computer screens. If you download and install one of these you may improve readability compared to the current default font. For example, Droid Sans (available here: is a good alternative.

Here is an example using Droid Sans at 10 points:

More about vector-charts here.

The Plugin page is up to date with the 3.0 release.