Raster or Vector charts ?

What is the best nautical chart format: vector or raster?

Your navigation area, usage and habits are some of the many criteria to take into account before making the right choice for your nautical chart. Raster or Vector, let’s get into their differences.

Vector charts are extremely accurate at their reference scales (as long as they are not “over-zoomed”), but can appear quite different from traditional paper charts. MapMedia mm3d Vector Charts allow you to customize your chart display.

Vector charts

Main advantages

Good display at any scale.
Detailed information on specific objects of the map (eg. buoys).
Ability to configure charts and filter data.

Main drawbacks

Very different display from paper charts.
Vector charts become very inaccurate when over zoomed.

Raster charts

Main advantages

Similar appearance to marine paper charts.
Reliability of true color copy of official hydrographic offices paper charts.

Main drawbacks

Raster charts appear “grainy” when over zoomed.
The depth units cannot be changed.
There is no possibility to “hide” information on the map.

Electronic charts origins
Choosing the right format
Chart Compatibility

Where do electronic charts originate?

Marine Raster Charts are geo-referenced, digital images of the Official Hydrographic Office and select private navigational charts. True color copies of the official paper chart of the hydrographic services, marine raster charts are the most reliable, allowing you to display on screen the official paper charts that you were accustomed to using.

Marine Vector Charts utilize a vector database to build the chart display. This data is stored in layers and records every nautical chart feature such as coastlines, buoys, lights, etc. These features and their attributes such as position, color, size, shape, and others are stored in a database allowing them to be selectively displayed and interrogated. In many areas of the globe where there’s no hydrographic service, vector maps are often the only reference.