Orfeo toolbox

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Orfeo Toolbox
Developer(s) CNES
Stable release 3.2.1 / January 25, 2010; 128064917 ago
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Library
License CeCILL
Website OTB homepage

Orfeo Toolbox (OTB) is a library for remote sensing image processing. The project had been initiated by the french space agency (CNES) in 2006 and is under heavy developments and the participation from the open source community is currently growing. 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;
  • Data access: vector data access (shapefile, kml), DEM model, lidar data;
  • Filtering: blurring, denoising, enhancement for optical or radar data;
  • Feature extraction: texture computations including Haralick, SFS, Pantex, Edge density, points of interest, alignments, lines, SIFT, SURF
  • Image segmentation: region growing, watershed, level sets;
  • Classification: K-means, SVM, Markov random fields;
  • Change detection;
  • Orthorectification and map projections (using ossim).
  • Radiometric indices (vegetation, water, soil)
  • 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, Unix and Windows (Visual and Cygwin). 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.



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 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[3].


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


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 as processing on demand and automagic file format I/O. The application is called Monteverdi, since this is the name of the Orfeo composer.This is also in remembering of the great (and once open source) Khoros/Cantata software.


OTB is distributed under a free software license CeCILL (similar to GPL).


  1. E. Christophe and J. Inglada "Open Source Remote Sensing: Increasing the Usability of Cutting-Edge Algorithms" in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Newletter, issue 150, March 2009, pp. 9-15.
  2. Orfeo Toolbox Software Guide, Updated for OTB 3.0, 2009
  3. Using OTB from Matlab: http://groups.google.com/group/otb-users/browse_thread/thread/8ea7ba2e4034a0f1#

External links

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