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Ben E

Is NMEA 2000 an open standard?

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A Panbo entry with over 100 comments recently devolved into an argument about whether or not NMEA is justified in its claim that N2K is an open standard. I think it is because it clearly meets the broad definition of "open standard" documented in Wikipedia, and it's managed like many other similar open standards.

I fully understand that some people would like all open standards to also be free, but if you want to insist that "open and free" is the only definition, please explain how that squares with the work of the ITU and many other major standards organizations.

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  • I find the dichotomy of this blog vs. thread amusing. Defending NMEA charging for their 'open' standard on a blog that probably wouldn't exist if it weren't for 'open and free' standards. The standard protocols that power this blog, HTML, HTTP, TCP, UDP, IP are all open and 'free'.

    So Panbo is eating at the trough of 'open and free' while defending 'open as long as you bring money'. Amazing!

  • Only "amazing" to a zealot, DotDun.

    I'm quite aware of what open and free standards have done for the world, and am very appreciative of all the government agencies, universities, and corporations who've underwritten their development. But the open and free model doesn't work in every situation and so I'm also appreciative of open standards that are not free. I really wish my boat engine ran J1939, for instance, because then I'd be able to integrate it with my NMEA 2000 network, and have no problem with the fees and certification requirements involved with both standards.

    Open standards coexist with open & free standards just fine in the real world, and they are not an either/or decision for consumers or developers. Unless you have blinders on.

  • By the way, DotDun, do you use any equipment built to ITU open (but not necessarily free) standards? Like maybe a VHF radio, AIS, or cell phone? If so, aren't you a hypocrite by your own either/or definition?

  • Ben,

    We're trying to answer you original query, (is NMEA stifling innovation). When we assert that NMEA standards need to be open and free in order to promote innovation, you are defending open/non-free standards and claim they do not harm innovation by citing that ITU standards are the epitome of promoting innovation. I then attempted to get you to realize that the Internet, the very world you are living in, was not created by ITU standards. In fact, if the Internet had be 'invented' via the ITU, Panbo.com would reside in a Class 5 switch and we would be accessing it via ISDN paying $x.xx/minute. The ITU doesn't promote innovation when I have to submit ideas to the US State Dept. for approval before submitting to the ITU. 'Government' and 'innovation' are orthogonal terms.

    The bottom line is the majority of innovation in the last 20 years has been based on open and free standards.

    We're waiting for you to substantiate the claim "But the open and free model doesn't work in every situation" Why won't it work in the NMEA discipline?

    I've read the marketing around N2k, the slide deck, the white paper. IMO, N2k is the way it is due to vendors protecting their turf.

    Example: Why can't OpenCPN support N2k? OCPN is free, developed by volunteers, nobody is making $$ from it. You think NMEA would give those developers the data required to code N2k into OCPN?

  • So a global system of AIS transponders that work reliably and are built competitively by multiple manufacturers is not an innovation? Handheld DSC/GPS/VHF radios designed and tested to ITU open standards are not valuable safety innovations? All the smartphone technologies like GSM & 3G developed under ITU are not a major innovative?

    I don't have to substantiate the fact that open standards with fees, IPR, and rules work because it's a fact all of us experience most every day. That model of open standards predominates the worlds of telecommunications, vehicular monitoring and control, and industry, all of which are more similar to critical marine electronics than HTML. The fees support the standards making bodies. How would organizations like NMEA develop a rigorous standard without them?

    The claim that needs to be substantiated is your notion that "N2k is the way it is due to vendors protecting their turf" because it's fact free. How could it be true when any company can be a NMEA 2000 vendor?

    If you're going to claim that small manufacturers are excluded because of the fees, then please show us another industry where critical hardware interoperable with other critical hardware via a network standard is built on such a low budget that the NMEA fees would make a difference.

  • Since you closed the original thread immediately upon posting your final comment to it, I am left with no choice but to address your comments here...


        Actually it's NMEA that characterizes 2000 as an open
        standard. If I thought it wasn't, I'd say so; my interest
        is truth.

    I don't wish to appear overly nit-picky here; but the fact remains that in your original blog entry at https://www.panbo.com/archives/2012/03/the_n2k_wifi_gateway_issue_is_nmea_stifling_innovation.html , it is you, speaking in the first person and apparently for yourself, who is stating more-or-less flatly that N2K is an open standard. Had you been wearing your "journalist" hat, you would have at least attributed that claim to NMEA. And had you done that, it is entirely possible that we would not be having this debate right now.

    As for whatever NMEA claims, one must always keep in mind the fable of The Scorpion And The Frog http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion_and_the_frog . After all, NMEA is, first and foremost, a marketing organization (if often a rather erratic one, occasionally to the point of apparent schizophrenia, as you have noted in this very blog). They are NOT primarily a technical consortium or independent Standards Developing Organization. Their activities in the latter realm are (and always have been) secondary to their primary profit-oriented mission. In short, they are not an independent third party.

    You, as a "journalist", are supposed to be.


        But I started researching the definition of an "open standard"
        years ago, when this accusation first surfaced. What I
        concluded was that the editors of Wikipedia got it right.
        While there are several narrow definitions of "open standard"
        -- some of which are held to be THE definition with religious
        fervor -- the core characteristic is "publicly available" and
        NMEA 2000 is clearly publicly available.

    I asked you this before; and having not gotten an answer, it is worth repeating: Really?!? Where? Can I perhaps go to my local public library and read the full specification there?

    The NMEA's insistence on a multi-thousand-dollar fee just to shuffle a few pennies-worth of bits around via .PDF downloads (cf. http://www.nmea.org/store/index.asp?show=cprd&cid=7 ), and otherwise keeping the specification and testing standards a closely guarded secret (remember that NDA, which you neglected to address?), makes this so-called "standard" the polar opposite of "publicly available" -- by not only common sense and generally accepted usage of that term, but also by the explicit statements of virtually every one of those formal definitions cited in the Wikipedia article, most notably including the one by the ITU-T (which you later attempt to twist into something not at all in keeping with its obvious overall intent): "Publicly available – easily available for implementation and use, at a reasonable price."

    I don't call four grand, just to read a .PDF file, "reasonable".


        There are two particular aspects of the ITU definition that
        contradict NJT. One is its definition of "Publicly Available"
        which goes like this: "Easily available for implementation and
        use, at a reasonable price.

    That doesn't contradict me at all. It is in fact part of the point I've been trying to make. The reference to "a reasonable price" can only be properly interpreted to mean a nominal fee to cover the actual costs of producing/publishing the relevant document(s) (plus maybe a minor "fudge factor" to cover intangible or difficult-to-account-for costs, such as the time for the receptionist to answer your 'phone call requesting the documents). By contrast, were the standards bodies free to charge whatever outrageous pie-in-the-sky fee they want, then there would be no need for the ITU to specify "at a reasonable price" and that phrase would not appear in the definition.

    As I said earlier, the relevant documents don't necessarily need to be absolutely "free, as in beer"; but if/when the cost significantly exceeds the direct duplication and distribution costs of the underlying media (and in the case of distributing .PDFs via the Internet, four or more orders of magnitude is certainly well past "significant"), it is no longer an incidental "cost covering" fee; it is a de facto paid licensing arrangement, regardless of whether you (or the NMEA) call it that or not.


        Publication of the text of a standard by others is permitted
        only with the prior approval of the SDO."

    This is their nod to the copyright held by default by the original document authors. But it is routine and customary for such "approval" to be given in blanket form within the document itself (or as a preface/addendum to it) when such documents are submitted to a standards body for possible adoption. In any event, it is by NO means even remotely akin to the NMEA's NDA requirements and similar.


        In other words, the ITU is fine with charging for standards
        documentation like NMEA and many other standards
        development organizations (SDOs) do,

    No. They are OK with nominal charges to cover duplication/distribution costs, like virtually every Standards Development Organization other than the NMEA does.


        and also with copyright restrictions about the distribution of
        those standards.

    No. They acknowledge that the copyrights exist (by default, per the Berne Convention). As noted above, it is customary for the most pertinent "restrictions" you speak of (specifically those on further duplication and distribution) to be waived by the copyright holder(s). As the ITU themselves state: "'Open Standards' ... are intended for widespread adoption." And obviously, a necessary first step to widespread adoption is the widespread distribution of the standard itself.


        And the ITU has more to say about the permissible
        relationship between an open standard and intellectual
        property rights (IPR): "IPRs essential to implement the
        standard to be licensed to all applicants on a worldwide,
        non-discriminatory basis, either (1) for free and under
        other reasonable terms and conditions or (2) on reasonable
        terms and conditions (which may include monetary
        compensation)." So the ITU also permits licensing or
        royalties within an open standard system. Obviously their
        main focus is that an open standard be available without
        discrimination.

    As stated within the very text you quote, that particular portion of the ITU-T definition is specifically with regard to implementation of such standard(s) -- i.e., actually making (and presumably selling) a product based on them. They separately address the issue of simple access to the standard in the "Publicly available – easily available for implementation and use, at a reasonable price" language. That distinction is important.

    Further, in the same section you incompletely quote above, they go on to state: "Negotiations are left to the parties concerned and are performed outside the SDO." The implication here is both clear and important, in that it shows the context of the entire statement to be one where the IPR holder is NOT the SDO itself -- in other words, such as would be the case between (for example) Bosch (the patent holder for the underlying CANbus technology) and Raymarine or Garmin or whomever else may wish to market products based on the patented technology. But MOST importantly, this does not obviate the requirement for the standard itself to be "made available to the general public" and "easily available for implementation and use, at a reasonable price."

    And one more time: Charging four grand for a few pennies-worth of data transfer is NOT a reasonable price. In fact, it is so far removed from "reasonable" that it also fails the "made available to the general public" test. The average working stiff boat owner with (for example) a 10-15 year-old 24-foot center-console fishing boat worth perhaps $20K or so simply cannot afford to spend 20% of his boat's value just to read the damn spec! So as a practical matter, the spec is effectively NOT available to him. Is he not a member of the general public? How about the fellow who can't even afford that relatively modest boat?


        Whereas ANYONE reading this can buy the NMEA 2000
        standard or parts of it immediately and build a product
        using it that will only require a certification process
        to be sold in unlimited quantities -- without royalties
        -- N2K is an open standard by the ITU definition.

    I strongly disagree. As shown above, your selective interpretation of the ITU-T definition misses the mark on several key points; and this last paragraph is a shining example of that... Building a device and marketing a product are two very different things. The NMEA's decision to not require per-unit royalties is yet another separate and unrelated matter, and one which does not even enter the discussion until a finished (or at least nearly finished) product is actually brought to market. By repeatedly conflating these various separate issues, you succeed only in muddying the waters and confounding truly productive discussion.


        NotJoinedYet also mis-characterized the NMEA as an "old
        boy's club". The inference is that you have to be invited
        to join or, if you can apply, that someone will decide
        whether you're worthy.

    If that inference is there, you are the one making it. I never implied any such thing. The "Good Ol' Boys Club" comment was a somewhat colorful reference to the overall general behavior of the NMEA with respect to new and/or small "players", and particularly the many significant barriers to market entry (such as exorbitant fees, NDAs, etc.) they have deliberately erected -- presumably in order to maintain, to the the degree possible, their cozy little hegemony.


        But "NotJoinedYet" is obviously mixed up about what joining
        means anyway, being the first person in some seven years to
        confuse registering on Panbo with joining something.

    Can we leave the ad hominems at the door, please?

    I didn't "confuse" anything. Whether you call it "joining" or registering", it amounts to exactly the same two things:

    1. Providing a easily traceable means of identifying me (the domain name would be a dead give-away, although I am fairly certain that you have not yet ever heard of it), and...

    2. Obviating your opportunity to review my comments before they are published.

    If my offhand choice of handle is to be taken so literally, then perhaps you could do me the courtesy of getting it right? It's "NotYetJoined", not "NotJoinedYet" or "NJT" (whatever that might stand for).


        Though I doubt anyone will buy your insistence that all
        microprocessors are computers no matter how you comment.
        It's just another abuse of language for the sake of
        ideology.

    Ummm... The term was "microcontroller", not "microprocessor". But no matter, really; because in BOTH cases, they are absolutely, positively, unequivocally, and unquestionably... (drum roll, please) computers. (Imagine that!)

    I already gave you the Wikipedia reference for "microcontroller", the very first sentence of which states: "A microcontroller (sometimes abbreviated µC, uC or MCU) is a small computer on a single integrated circuit ...". Here's the one for "microprocessor": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microprocessor -- the first sentence of which reads: "A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit, (IC) or at most a few integrated circuits."

    So how exactly is it that calling a computer a computer is an "abuse of language for the sake of ideology"?

  • Excellent, my favorite thread continues. But I liked the original topic better (re-stated: Is NMEA stifling innovation with issues around WiFi Gateway)

    It would be helpful to us readers on the sidelines if either this gets back on topic or that the next person who attempts to knock NMEA-2000 off the mantel of open standards would stop complaining about the super glue, and focus directly on what appears to be an airtight argument Ben has made that NMEA-2000 is open, and free is not a prerequisite.

    Otherwise, this thread deserves to end.

  • Ben,

    Apparently we'll have to agree to disagree on what constitutes innovation. I don't consider incremental evolutionary updates to an application very high on the innovation list.

    So the defense to 'open as long as you bring money' is: "It's the way we've always done it. What's good for one is good for all!"

    I'll let the IETF know that. They've been around for 25+ years producing standards that are open and free. Their business model is to charge fees to attend the face-to-face meetings and voluntary corporate sponsorship. Any individual can participate and contribute free of charge. IPR on any idea is exposed to potential developers as a 'buyer beware'. Does the Internet meet the definition of innovation?

    I wasn't involved in the N2k standardization process. But I do have 15+ years participating in other standards fora. Looking at published material, I question the motives because:

    1) I surmise the CAN bus decision was reverse engineered from their desire to maintain a closed market.

    Why not radar signals on N2k? (can't be supported on CAN bus)

    They put up a plausible argument about lack of prioritization on Ethernet, but they fail to recognize that a 400 times increase in bandwidth that Ethernet would deliver over CAN bus will solve five 9s worth of congestion problems. This has been proven many times over with real-time protocols over IP.

    $20 connectors & tees? Expensive cabling? Really?

    STng, Simnet not turf protection? What would you call it?

    2) Why is it that N2k is locked down tighter than 0183?

    Please don't ignore the OpenCPN example. No money to be made by the developers and fills a niche market. Locking down N2k more-so than 0183 isn't turf protection?

    Why can't I, Joe Consumer, have access to the full packet decode so I can troubleshoot my own N2k network? I have to buy the spec, really? After all, what functionality does N2k deliver at the application layer that 0183 doesn't?

    BTW, NMEA's reference to sensor data as being 'critical' is not novel. All application developers consider their data traffic as critical. And, yes, critical data transverses Ethernet and IP daily in many disciplines. Maybe we should advise the US military to cease using IEEE802 and IP as the basis for communication on the battlefield, or maybe that data isn't as critical as marine sensor data?

    I really have less of a problem with the choice of CAN bus vs. Ethernet (wouldn't be my preference), but I can live with that. It's the NMEA management of their standard that is worrisome, both from IPR POV and not keeping up with other technologies.

    All IMO, or course!

  • Thanks for the support, Dan. It gets lonely here, but seeing an organization and standard I know well so mis-characterized by extremists gets under my skin. I trust, though, that readers are watching them get further and further out on shaky limbs.

    For instance, behold the spectacle of NotYetJoined inventing a definition for reasonable prices of open standard documentation out of thin air. All that bloviating and he obviously never bothered to check his theory -- now the linchpin of his whole argument that N2K is not an open standard -- against the actual costs of ITU open standard documents. Which would have taken maybe five minutes to find: http://goo.gl/XTiod

    Of course NYJ must never have looked at all the links to open CANbus standard documents sales sites I posted in the original thread either. Apparently when you're extremely sure you're right, research isn't necessary.

    Heck ITU prices don't even differentiate between a PDF download and a hard copy. In fact, ITU prices for open standard documents -- defined by ITU as "publicly available at a reasonable price" -- are often similar to what NMEA charges (DotDun exaggerated the prices, by the way).

    Relatively high prices for open standards documentation are not really hard to understand. This is not like selling books to the general public. "Publicly available at reasonable price" is not based on the document production cost nor the desires of technology end users, 99% of whom don't give a damn and none of whom need it.

    "Reasonable price" for ITU and many other SDO's like NMEA is obviously meant in terms of manufacturers who build products based on the standards, while "publicly available" means available to any manufacturer or other interested party who wants them. Once you realize that it's perfectly reasonable for an SDO to generate reasonable revenue from an open standard in order to finance the management of that standard, it's also reasonable to charge a fair bit for documentation. It may also be done in part to limit distribution of the document so it stays managed.

    I've always been empathetic to hobbyists who'd like easier access to N2K but in fact NMEA has lowered its costs, and, besides, clever "amateur" N2K developers like Kees have already figured out ethical access and shared it. There are those that do and those that kvetch. Also I've personally done lots of N2K troubleshooting and analysis without ever seeing the official documentation, as discussed on the original thread.

    Plus there's the fact that these discussions have also made me more empathetic about NMEA's carefullness with the integrity of the Standard. When people are so righeously and passionately misinformed about how an open standard like this works -- despite overwhelming evidence that it's done the same way in many industries -- aren't they capable of thinking it's perfectly OK to steal it from the SDO? Even a "heroic" act?

    And how about the howler of DotDun finding himself forced to call multiple revolutions in communications technology "incremental evolutionary updates"! Or a guy hiding in a foxhole of anonymity getting touchy about my "ad hominem" remarks while he feels free to vilify an organization partially made of public individuals that I personally know to be decent human beings?

    NMEA 2000 is what it is but if it weren't for the NMEA, which anyone can participate in, it wouldn't exist. Radar, for instance, was never meant to run through it. And the powerful N2K-based CZone system I referenced in today's blog post would a nightmare if it were an Ethernet network, though it should be noted that BEP could have used Ethernet if it wanted to. And, by the way, CZone is flat out impossible on 0183. Again, some do while others just bitch.

    Not that N2K is perfect. There are numerous issues (mostly small), and I dare say I've written about them publicly more than anyone else. But N2K sure beats the heck out of 0183 and that's largely because it's managed in a much tighter fashion (and that costs an SDO money). As for the broad negative claims of NotYetJoined and DotDun, they're just nonsense.

    Unfortunately it's destructive nonsense. NYJ and DD have enough technical knowledge to imagine a NMEA 2000 that doesn't exist, and probably to pollute the minds of fellow boaters who are trying understand what's going on...but not enough knowledge and maturity to understand the realities of a standard that is more industrial than HTML. It's a shame because there's a pretty darn good open marine data networking standard right in front of them and they can't see it.

  • Ben,

    You erred when you asked for other's opinions. It's obvious you were looking only for those that agree with you. So you digress to name calling.

    Your lack of ability to professionally debate the issues is only surpassed by your lack of technical knowledge in the area of communication protocol design coupled with your lack of experience in standards fora.

    The real pollution on the uneducated is the false sense of objectiveness portrayed by Panbo.com when in fact it's a marketing/advertising tool for the 'good old boy' members of NMEA. Or is all this advertising gratis? Hence, you vehemently supporting NMEA makes perfect sense.

    All IMO, of course!

  • DotDun: The boat owner, hobbyist, and software expert sides of me sure would like a free copy of those NMEA-2000 specs and best practices available to all smartphone app developers, and moreover see the WiFi gateway innovation advance very quickly into a 2-way gateway with features such as I wrote in previous comments.

    So you see, I am routing for ya advancing the cause, but you gotta come at this believing it's a fair fight, that your debating opponent knows what he is talking about, he is a balanced and fair advocate for consumers and manufacturer's both, a good guy, and just darn professional on every level.

    So get back in the ring, get right to the issue. I am routing for you man, but I want a fair fight, don't let me down.

  • Everyone: I know many software people who would put in 100 hours of their time to avoid paying $25 for something he or she believes is free. Let's get past free.

    Should Ben's apparently air tight argument prevail in this debate, both the software hobbyist and professionals among us need to respect that we are in a marketplace where there isn't an Intel, Microsoft, Google, or whoever to make these standards development costs "seem" free.

    While NMEA's approach to standards creation appears down right alien to us consumer software folk (e.g. we have to pay to play, rather than be lured to contribute our talents with free access, gestures of respect, entertainment, and sometimes discounted or free gear), NMEA has accomplished a lot here for this tiny segment of the electronics market.

    Personally, as a result of this thread, I hope many fewer people feel like they have to "stick it to the man", come up with their own free solution, or otherwise denigrate NMEA for their choices to prevent the standard from starving financially. Because if that happened, we will all lose.

  • Thanks again, Dan. Your check will be in the mail as soon as NMEA makes their monthly deposit to my Swiss bank account ;-)

    No surprise that "DotDun" would resort to questioning my integrity, given that he and NYJ are having such trouble with the facts. I wonder if DD went to that online ITU standards store I linked to and saw the featured deal on a TIA data center infrastructure standard document: http://global.ihs.com/

    "Pre-order your copy of TIA-942-A today before the price goes up!" So many of these standards organizations seem to be confused about what publicly available at reasonable price should mean, eh?

    The IEEE too! Here's news that it took underwriting by the U.S. Dept. of Defense to make "safety standards for human exposure to electromagnetic fields available to the public at no cost":

    http://standards.ieee.org/news/2012/c95get.html

    This thread is not about innovation and NMEA 2000. It's about the false claim that NMEA 2000 is not an open standard by generally accepted definition.

  • NMEA2000 is the best thing since sliced bread, unfortunately NMEA is full of problems and the "open standard" debate is one of them.

    As mentioned the scope of marine networks is NOTHING compared to the scope of the Internet, so it helps to have a regulatory body to come up with a single acceptable standard which NMEA has done. WIthout them, we would likely still have a huge mix of competing proprietary standards and bastardly modifications to 0183. 2000 is a huge step up.

    I agree, NMEA has done well with 2000, and it's an "open standard" as open standards go. Unfortunately, the high price point for standards access, certification of devices, etc. turns down MANY niche developers - individuals and tiny companies interested in bringing a niche product to a niche market. I think this ends up stifling a lot of innovation by hobbyists and tiny companies. In the end, I think this ends up hurting everyone.

    It would seem that it'd be in everyone's best interests for NMEA to develop membership levels to allow everyone access, unfortunately NMEA's larger members have a ton to loose by allowing more products into the market, and the big corporate money talks and NMEA listens. I think that the near future holds hobbyist work on the PGNs and data structures making it accessible for everyone, as places like OpenSailor have already done.

    It'll be interesting to see how well NMEA2000 ages, it seems based on the history of J1939 in industry, it was a very good choice in terms of implementation simplicity (NMEA2000 is VERY low cost to implement), reliability (CANbus is MUCH more reliable and expandable than RS232), and future capabilities.

    Given CANbus's flexibility and performance, it could very well last over the next decade and will continue to be supplemented in high-bandwidth situations with ethernet, which is a great choice. It's much more expensive to implement so you won't see it on el-cheapo devices anytime soon, so the combination of ethernet and N2K are here to stay.

  • Thanks, Patrick. You're a breath of fresh (and smart) air in here, and I'd like to discuss a couple of your concerns further. But first I have maybe one more comment on the definition of "open standard" non-issue ;-)

    First there's this nugget from a comment about the evilness of NMEA 2000 that didn't get published on the main blog because it was totally irrelevant to the entry:

    Any protocol which is not *freely* available is *NOT* open! To say that "you can buy it so it's open" is trying to argue that a Ferrari is "open" because you can buy one, or that MS Windows is "open" because you can buy a copy. That's categorically wrong and a stunning example of NEWSPEAK disinformation.

    It simply blows my mind how intelligent people can so passionately deny the very widespread existence of open but not free standards. The fact is that the more I learn about how the term "open standard" is actually used around the planet, the broader the definition is.

    My latest example came from the fascinating Pebble watch story. When they first tried to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter one of the stated needs was global Bluetooth certification. Which got me reading Wiki about that standard and finding this:

    Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances...Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which has more than 16,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The SIG oversees the development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. To be marketed as a Bluetooth device, it must be qualified to standards defined by the SIG. A network of patents is required to implement the technology and are only licensed to those qualifying devices; thus the protocol, whilst open, may be regarded as proprietary.

    It's noteworthy that none of the "open and free is the only open" zealots have yet said that Wikipedia is "NEWSPEAK disinformation" and I think they'd have a really hard time doing so. That's because Wikipedia is obviously loaded with folks who have Internet-heavy experience backgrounds similar to most of the zealots. Who can doubt that the case for "open and free" has been made strongly within Wikipedia? It's just that the Wiki editors have developed a very disciplined truth-seeking protocol, and the obvious truth is that "open standards" are not necessarily free (or even cheap by end user standards).

    Here's a link to the Pebble Kickstarter page: http://goo.gl/RgQsU

    I'm excited about the prospect of a "watch" that supports its own apps environment and can use the "proprietary open" Bluetooth standard to interface with whatever smart phone I use, and I'm in for a black one!

  • Hmm - in my book NMEA2000 is outdated, slow, expensive, full of bugs and incompatible devices despite being "certified" as NMEA2000.

    It is just as obscure as Bluetooth - that has never worked reliable between different or same vendors equipment.

    And to call NMEA2000 for an "open standard" is just bull.

    I'm an Electronics Engineer - and to be honest - I hope a new independent marine standard will come along - based on TCP/IP and Gigabit networking. Then we would have the pleasure of utilizing network switching - and not have the Push/Pull bus system. Multicast/Broadcast for system wide messages and video - full integration with other IP based systems like camera's and internet access for map updates etc. etc. etc.

    Now every vendor makes their "own" IP standard roughly based on Ethernet - and then we have incompatible units between vendors. Lets get truly open IP standards so I can use a Furuno Radar with a Garmin GPS and a Raymarine HD Fishfinder.

    That would get competition - and better products all over since each vendor had to be "top provider" in EACH category and not just have 2-3 great products and force people to buy the rest just because there are no other options available.

  • @Kasper: "Lets get truly open IP standards so I can use a Furuno Radar with a Garmin GPS and a Raymarine HD Fishfinder."

    This, to me, provides the yardstick for "open standards": interoperability. Everything else is just talk and posturing. I am reequipping an 80s Uniflite so am really trying to come up with a coherent strategy to address the myriad inputs like tank monitors. At this point, N2K does indeed look like a product of the "old boys", so, while I most certainly will install a Furuno radar, I don't think I'll be buying into the whole "Navnet" thing. Personally, I think I will be happier with a somewhat less tightly coupled system that uses NMEA 0183 as needed, That also leaves the door open to experimenting with projects like OpenCPN.

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