Orfeo toolbox

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Orfeo Toolbox
Developer(s) CNES
Stable release
5.2 / December 12, 2015 (2015-12-12)
Written in C++, Python, Java, IDL
Type Library
License CeCILL
Website orfeo-toolbox.org

Orfeo Toolbox (OTB) is a library for remote sensing image processing. The project was initiated by the French space agency (CNES) in 2006 and is under heavy development. The software is released under a free licence; a number of contributors outside CNES are taking part in development and integrating into other projects. The goal is to provide potential users of satellite images with all the tools necessary to use these images.[1] The library is originally targeted at high resolution images acquired by the Orfeo constellation: Pleiades satellites and Cosmo-Skymed but also handles a wide variety of sensors.

OTB provides:[2]

  • Image access: read/write access for most remote sensing image formats (using GDAL), meta-data access, visualization [3]
  • Data access: vector data access (shapefile, kml), DEM model, lidar data [4]
  • Filtering: blurring, denoising, enhancement for optical or radar data [5]
  • Feature extraction: texture computations including Haralick, SFS, Pantex, Edge density, points of interest, alignments, lines, SIFT, SURF [6]
  • Image segmentation: region growing, watershed, level sets [7]
  • Classification: K-means, SVM, Markov random fields and access to all OpenCV machine learning algorithms[8]
  • Change detection [9]
  • Stereo reconstruction from images
  • Orthorectification and map projections (using ossim) [10]
  • Radiometric indices (vegetation, water, soil) [11]
  • Object-based segmentation and filtering
  • PCA computation
  • Visualization: a flexible visualization system, customizable via plugins;
  • and more.

The library is intensively tested on several platforms as Linux, Mac OS X and Windows OTB Dashboard. Most functions are also adapted to process huge images (>4GB) using streaming and to take advantages of multicore processor as often as possible.

The library have an extensive documentation for both API (OTB API) and illustrated capabilities in the Software Guide (html version).

Languages and interaction with other software[edit]

OTB is a C++ library, based on Insight toolkit (ITK), a medical image processing library.

Bindings are developed for Python and Java and are available as the separate OTB-Wrapping project. A blog post on the orfeo-toolbox blog details an example using the python wrapping [12]

A method to use OTB components within IDL/ENVI has been published.

One of the OTB user defined a procedure to use the library capabilities from MATLAB.[13]

Since late 2009,[14] some modules are developed as processing plugins[15] for QGIS. Modules for classification, segmentation, hill shading have provided. This effort has not been funded so far and relies only on volunteers.

OTB algorithms are now available in QGIS through the processing framework Sextante.


Additionally to the library, several applications with GUI are distributed. These application enable interactive segmentation, orthorectification, classification, image registration, etc...

Monteverdi (version 1 and 2)[edit]

The OTB-Applications package makes available a set of simple software tools which were designed to demonstrates what can be done with OTB. Many users started using these applications for real processing tasks, so we tried to make them more generic, more robust and easy to use. It supports raster and vector data and integrates most of the already existing OTB applications. The architecture takes advantage of the streaming and multi-threading capabilities of the OTB pipeline. It also uses cool features such as processing on demand and automagic file format I/O. The application is called Monteverdi,[16] since this is the name of the Orfeo composer. This is also in memory of the great (and once open source) Khoros/Cantata software.[17]

In 2013, Monteverdi software have been revamped to take into account users feedbacks regarding how useful the tool was, but also regarding what should be improved to move toward greater usability and operationnality. Monteverdi concept has been reworked into a brand new software called Monteverdi2, enlightened by this experience.


OTB is distributed under a free software license CeCILL (similar and compatible with GPL).


The development started in January 2006 [18] with the first release in July 2006.[19] The development version is publicly accessible.[20]

Release history[edit]

Version Codename Release date Comments
1.0.0 June 30, 2006
1.2.0 February, 2007
1.4.0 June, 2007
1.6.0 October, 2007
2.0.0 December, 2007
2.2.0 June, 2008
2.4.0 July, 2008
2.6.0 Halloween November, 2008
2.8.0 恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai) January, 2009
3.0.0 Manhã de Carnaval May, 2009
3.2.0 62°38'35" S 60°14'31" W January, 2010
3.4.0 Perl A Rebours July, 2010
3.6.0 California Dreamin' October 7, 2010
3.8.0 Pack Ice December 17, 2010
3.10.0 Feliç anniversari June 30, 2011
3.12.0 Πλειάδες January 31, 2012
3.16.0 “v(n+1) = sqrt((v(n)-3)*100)” February 4, 2013
3.18.0 “Seven years of Coding” July 3, 2013


As of October 2009, OTB has been presented in major conferences across the five continents [21]

  • IGARSS 2008 in Boston
  • ISPRS 2008 in Beijing
  • International Summer School on VHR Remote Sensing 2008 in Grenoble
  • ESA-EUSC 2008 in Frascati
  • EUSC Software dasy 2009 in Madrid
  • AUF 2009 in Alger
  • IGARSS 2009 in Cape Town for the invited session Open Source Initiatives for Remote Sensing - Orfeo Toolbox [22]
  • FOSS4G 2009 in Sydney [23]
  • Capacity building 2009 in Antananarivo
  • Insight Toolkit 2010 Workshop in Washington as a keynote session [24]
  • IGARSS 2010 in Honolulu for a tutorial [25]
  • FOSS4G 2010 in Barcelona [26][27]
  • OGRS 2012 in Yverdon Les Bains

Many of those presentations are publicly available [28]

According to statistics on ohloh,[29] there is a total of 41 contributors and almost 260,000 lines of code (this include many libraries upon which OTB is built).

OTB in also use for the development of the operational ground segment for the Venus (Vegetation & Environment new micro satellite) and the ESA Sentinel-2 missions.[27]


  1. ^ E. Christophe and J. Inglada "Open Source Remote Sensing: Increasing the Usability of Cutting-Edge Algorithms" in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Newsletter, issue 150, March 2009, pp. 9-15.
  2. ^ Orfeo Toolbox Software Guide, Updated for OTB 3.18, 2013
  3. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech6.html#x26-740006
  4. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech7.html#x29-880007
  5. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech8.html#x30-930008
  6. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech14.html#x41-20100014
  7. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech16.html#x43-23700016
  8. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech17.html#x44-24800017
  9. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech19.html#x46-28100019
  10. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech11.html
  11. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech12.html#x38-19200012.1
  12. ^ OTB Mad Lab (OTB in python example): "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  13. ^ Using OTB from Matlab: http://groups.google.com/group/otb-users/browse_thread/thread/8ea7ba2e4034a0f1#
  14. ^ OTB Qgis plugins: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-13. 
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2012-05-13. 
  17. ^ Mark Young, Danielle Argiro and Steven Kubica, Cantata: Visual Programming Environment for the Khoros System, Computer Graphics, 1995, volume 29, pp 22-24
  18. ^ http://hg.orfeo-toolbox.org/OTB/rev/aba0c56ceeda
  19. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/SoftwareGuide/SoftwareGuidech27.html#x56-39800027.9.1
  20. ^ http://hg.orfeo-toolbox.org
  21. ^ http://blog.orfeo-toolbox.org/news/otb-world-tour
  22. ^ http://www.igarss09.org/InvitedSessions.asp
  23. ^ http://2009.foss4g.org/presentations/#presentation_26
  24. ^ http://visual.nlm.nih.gov/itk/itk2010/agenda.html
  25. ^ http://www.igarss2010.org/Tutorial_HD2.asp
  26. ^ http://2010.foss4g.org/presentations_show.php?id=3655
  27. ^ a b http://2010.foss4g.org/presentations_show.php?id=3658
  28. ^ http://www.orfeo-toolbox.org/otb/success-stories/
  29. ^ http://www.ohloh.net/p/otb

External links[edit]