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BSB 4.0, BSB 5.0, Encryption, and using Maptech charts with non-Maptech applications.

Created: 08/04/2005
Modified: 05/23/2007


The issues surrounding the various chart formats, "encryption" and related topics often present challenges and frustration. While this document can not solve these issues, it is sometimes helpful to understand the reasoning behind the decisions that brought the various recent changes to the Maptech BSB Chart format into being.

In the Beginning, there was BSB 2.0
(Well, not quite the very beginning, but close enough for this discussion.)

One of Maptech's predecessor companies, BSB Electronic Charts, had an exclusive license with NOAA to produce official electronic editions of NOAA's library of paper charts. Soon, BSB Charts became the official standard for electronic navigation, with many other companies creating software to use these charts. To facilitate this, a Software Development Kit was introduced, which allowed programmers of these software packages to quickly add support for BSB Charts to their products.

Because charts were large files, and transferring large files was fairly impractical (this in the days before the Internet was widely used, hard drives were smaller, and CD writers cost thousands of dollars) there was little to no concern given to "protecting" the charts from unauthorized use. Customers who purchased the charts had unlimited access to install them freely on their computers.

Making it better: BSB 3.0
In the course of making charts of increasing complexity, an improvement was needed in order to handle certain types of charts. Thus, a change to the BSB Chart format was introduced, becoming known as BSB 3.0. As before, a Software Development Kit was offered to all non-Maptech software providers so that the new format could be implemented quickly and easily.

As with BSB 2.0, no additional "protection" was specified in BSB 3.0. However, out on the docks, "chart swapping" was becoming increasingly problematic. In many circumstances, a single Maptech chart CD was being installed on multiple vessels - often by individuals who claimed they had special authorization from Maptech to do so, and charging their customers for this service!

Moreover, with the Internet and CD-writers, all sorts of interesting schemes are costing Maptech lost revenues. People taking chart CDs, copying them, and selling them on eBay became common. Meanwhile, in order to compensate for these losses, Maptech began to lay off some of its workers. Clearly, something needed to change in order for Maptech to survive.

BSB 4.0: Encryption
At first, protecting chart installations from unauthorized use and theft was not an issue for our NOAA/US charts. As Maptech began producing charts in conjunction with agencies around the globe, some of those agencies (such as the British Admiralty) made it a requirement that their digital charts be encrypted by some sort of method. In other words, if Maptech was going to produce charts for the International market, we would be forced to implement some sort of encryption mechanism.

In late 2002, Maptech again updated its Software Development Kit and released BSB 4.0 Charts to our international customers. For the time being, BSB 3.0 was used for US/NOAA charts (since NOAA had no requirement to protect the digital editions of their charts.)

BSB 4.0 Comes to NOAA
In January 2004 all NOAA/BSB charts were released in the 4.0 format. After having a year of success with this format for our international customers, it was deemed necessary to protect the library of US charts in the same way. While some non-Maptech software vendors had already embraced this change (in order to support the previous year's International chart titles) other vendors did not. Unfortunately, this caused some confusion - but ultimately most vendors now support the BSB 4.0 format.

Non-Maptech Software Applications Compatible with BSB 4.0
The following applications are now compatible with BSB 4.0 format charts:
- CAPN Voyager Mosaic/DNC 7.5 (version 7.5 or later)
- Deckman (latest version)
- Fugawi (latest version) Call 416-920-0447 to update.
- GPSNavX (latest version)
- MacGPS Pro (latest version) Visit www.macgpspro.com to update.
- MaxSea (version 10.2 or later) Call 508-420-5903 to update.
- Memory Map Navigator (latest version)
- Ockamsoft (version 4 or later)
- P-Sea Windplot II (version 7.05 or later) Visit www.p-sea.com to update.
- Nobeltec (version 7.0.822 or later) Call 503-579-1414 or visit www.nobeltec.com to update.
- Northstar 961/962 (version 5.02 or later) Call 800-628-4487 to update.
- Raytech/Raymarine (version 5.0 or later)
- TIKI Navigator (all versions)

Non-Maptech Software Applications Not Compatible with BSB 4.0
The following applications are not currently compatible with BSB 4.0 format charts:
SeaClear (version

The Chartbook Companion CD and BSB 5.0
Knowing that Maptech's exclusive agreement to produce digital editions of NOAA's nautical charts was set to expire in 2005 (with charts distribution becoming free via downloads from NOAA's web site), Maptech decided to investigate the inner workings of the BSB format. It was determined that while Maptech owns most of the BSB format (and related technology) a small portion - namely the image compression used - was developed by NOAA. Since the Chartbook Companion CDs introduced in 2005 contain Maptech-produced charts (based on the NOAA originals) it was deemed necessary to employ a new version of the BSB format that would not have any portions in NOAA's control.

Therefore, Maptech created the BSB 5.0 format - specifically for these Chartbook Companion CDs. Like BSB 4.0, the CDs are encrypted so that they can not be shared between computers without authorization. BSB 5.0/Chartbook Companion CDs also employ a new image compression technology, so that no technology developed by NOAA is in use.

With the release of BSB 5.0 and the Chartbook Companion CDs, a new Software Development Kit also became available to non-Maptech software vendors. Unfortunately, some have yet to include this change to their software products, causing some dissatisfaction among our mutual customers. While Maptech can not implement the necessary changes for these vendors ourselves, we remain available and committed to these developers to assist them in making these changes.

Meanwhile, BSB 5.0 charts are fully compatible with the latest editions of the following Maptech products:
- Offshore Navigator
- Offshore Navigator Lite
- Chart Navigator
- Chart Navigator Pro
- Sea Ray Navigator (version 2.5 or later)
- i3 Navigator (version 2.5 or later)
- The CAPN (version 8.3.17 or later)
- Pocket Navigator (version 5.1 or later)

Non-Maptech Software Applications Compatible with BSB 5.0
- GPSNavX (latest version)
- Coastal Explorer
- OziExplorer

Ok, that's all nice, but...
We acknowledge the inconvenience the changes made to the BSB format over the past several years has brought upon our long-term customers, especially those who choose to use non-Maptech navigation software products. Unfortunately, each format change was required by circumstances largely beyond our control. Such changes have been troublesome for our own efforts as well, as each change has required investments in time and development efforts.

With encryption for US charts, we attempted to design a system that was fair to our legitimate customers, yet provided a good level of protection from those individuals who do not value the significant investment of time and care that goes into producing electronic charts. If you have ANY problem when installing encrypted charts, please call us and we'll get you up and running as soon as possible; we want to help you use the charts you've purchased in valid installations.

Going forward
Near the end of 2005, NOAA released its library of nautical charts directly to the public. Maptech is proud to have been selected as the contractor who will continue to produce these electronic editions. These charts are being be distributed in BSB 3.0 format - so that they can be enjoyed freely and with as many software products as possible. Downloads of these charts are available at the Maptech-sponsored web site: www.FreeBoatingCharts.com. Maptech also remains committed to provide unique and exciting products - and looks forward to meeting the navigation needs of mariners for many years to come.


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