Wednesday, 27 June 2012

NOAA Chart Updates (More Info)

A while back we wrote about the first statistics we had collected on NOAA chart updates.  Now that we have been tracking updates longer, we have more data to present.

Executive summary: In a little more than a month, 1/3 of the charts in the USA were updated.  NOAA is keeping busy.  Now you know why they require chart distributors to make updates available within 7 days of NOAA posting them.  Most apps don't do that, SEAiq makes them available immediately and makes it easy to download them.

Our users in the USA are no doubt surprised by how often NOAA updates their charts.  We were.  For most users, every time you have SEAiq USA or Free check with NOAA, there are probably updates for the regions you are interested in.

We started downloading the NOAA catalogs daily and analyzing them to get more information on the updates.  This is an ongoing project and we'll keep digging into the information and tell you about what we learn, as well as use it to help improve our apps.

First, some background numbers.  There were 938 charts across all of the NOAA regions as of May 18.  Since then, NOAA has actually added 8 charts, making 946 charts total.  The 948 charts in total contain about 1 gigabyte of data.  During the 42 days we tracked NOAA, there were 334 chart updates,  or more than 1/3.  The most updates in a day were made on May 24/25, with 56 updates.

Below is the number of charts that have been updated on each day:
The diagram is a little bumpy since they update lots of charts on some days and some days none at all.  Here is the same data, but with the information smoothed out with a 7 day rolling average:

You can see the average is around 8 or so chart updates a day.

We'll keep digging into this information about providing more information about it, such as the regions that are updated the most, what is in the updates, etc.  Also, we have some new features planned for our apps, such as allowing mariners to highlight recent changes to their charts to try to avoid any surprises.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Why can't SEAiq USA/Free update a NOAA chart in Southern California?

[NOTE: NOAA has fixed the issue with the problematic chart.]

If you download the NOAA charts on the west coast of the USA, you may have noticed that SEAiq USA/Free have recently started complaining about one of the NOAA charts in that region, "Gulf of Santa Catalina; Delmar Boat Basin-Camp Pendleton".

The issue is that for some reason NOAA neglected to include an important piece in their most recent version of that chart.  Every S-57 (the IHO standard all NOAA vector charts are supposed to follow) chart set is supposed to include a file called CATALOG.031 that tells the chart plotter what all the files in the set are for.  That is just not there in their most recent update.

One of the advantages of SEAiq is that it can get new chart updates from NOAA as soon as they post them.  You don't have to wait for us to do anything!  For most other apps, you have to get the charts from the app developer and sometimes that means your charts are out of date already by the time you get them.

As part of downloading new NOAA charts, SEAiq also validates the charts.  If it finds a problem, it will keep the old ones and give you a warning.  In the most recent version of SEAiq, we keep track of how many charts are out of date and put the number on the app icon and the NOAA tab so you now will have a reminder that one of your charts may be a bit old.

We notified NOAA as soon as we found out about this problem.  NOAA has not gotten back to us yet, but we expect they will fix the problem soon.  They have lots of work to do but normally are good about things like this.  By the way, we have offered NOAA several times to provide them with our chart validation software so they can catch things like this before posting them (there have been a couple problems we've find in the NOAA charts before).  Hopefully, NOAA will take us up on the offer at some point.  We'll see!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Announcing SEAiq 1.4.4

We are pleased to announce version 1.4.4 of the SEAiq USA, SEAiq Free, and SEAiq Open are all now available from iTunes.

These versions fix all reported user issues and add a number of new features.

  • The app icon NOAA tab now has a badge saying how many chart updates are available for download (SEAiq USA and SEAiq Free only)
  • Course-Made-Good (CMG) is included in the status info
  • Keep-Awake setting
  • Some cosmetic improvements to chart display
  • Performance improvements
The new versions fix all reported user issues:
  • Fix for Canadian S-57 charts (SEAiq Open)
  • Fix for In App Upgrades where app was unable to connect to iTunes when first started.  You can now retry the connection.  Note that a connection to internet is only required for In-App purchase; normal use of SEAiq never requires internet access. (SEAiq Free and SEAiq Open)
If you have any issues issues with our apps, please let us know.  We attempt to resolve all open user issues with each release.  The sooner you report a problem the sooner we can fix it for you.

1000 Users!

We are pleased to announce at some point in the last day or so SEAiq added its 1000th user.  As a fairly new set of apps, this was a big hurdle.

Thanks again for the users that have given us feedback.  If you have any questions or comments about our app, please send us an email at

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Help upgrading SEAiq Open and SEAiq Free

A quick note.  Some users have had difficulties upgrading our recent introduced apps, SEAiq Open and SEAiq Free.  We have a fix in process to be released by Apple, but in the mean time here is some help for users running into this issue.

While the SEAiq apps do not need to be connected to the internet to run as chart plotters, they do need to be connected to purchase the upgrade from the Apple iTunes store.  If they are not connected when the app first launches, IOS can give up trying to get information it needs to purchase the upgrade.  The symptom is the button on the Store tab says "Wait" without ever changing to "Buy" (which normally should only take a few seconds).  The workaround is to make sure you are connected to the internet and then restart the app (or restart the iPad/iDevice).

Again, this is only an issue when purchasing the upgrade.  Afterwards, you do not need to be connected to the internet to use SEAiq.