FME 2003 X2 in a NutShell!
By GeoCommunity Staff - July 29, 2003 (Printer Friendly)
FME, have you heard about it? Chances are if you work with spatial data on a daily basis then
you may be familiar with the product.. if not then you should be! Simply put, FME is a complete data access solution for
reading, writing and transforming spatial data. To the casual user FME is a data translation utility - and even better, one that
is available as a free, fully functional time-stamped eval. However, it's actually much more than that.
The FME Suite (aka. Feature Manipulation Engine)
consists of three main components: a translator, a transformation editor and a viewer. FME
Suite also inclu des developer tools and coordinate conversion support. Recently updated, the latest release of FME is
FME 2003 X2 and offers users a number of signifigant enhancements and improvements.
According to the company, "This new release promises to push the suite to new levels of functionality and usability"
So what exactly can you accomplish with FME 2003 X2? The following list categorises the main functions that a typical user
can access by using some or all of the utilities bundled in the latest product suite.
Translate - FME Universal Translator: Quickly and easily perform basic translations using the supplied defaults, or, if you’re an advanced user, perform more sophisticated processing by creating and running your own mapping files.
Transform - FME Workbench Completely control your data translation and transformation tasks by graphically adjusting the way your data flows from its source to the destination.
View - FME Universal Viewer View multiple datasets befores, after and even during a translation. Examine features, identify attributes and values, and enhance the display using color, symbols and labelling.
Merge - Combine data from multiple sources into a single translation run.
Convert - Coordinate Conversion Support: Choose from a gallery containing thousands of coordinate systems based on a variety of different projections, ellipsoids, and datums. You can also define your own coordinate system.
Embed - FME Objects: Add FME functionality to applications that you develop.
Use - FME Application Extenders: Use FME directly in your own GIS - ArcView ArcGIS, GeoMedia, and MapPoint.
Extend - FME Plug-in SDK: Add your own formats or processing facilities to the FME translation core (Premium Suites Only).
At 2003 X2, FME offers users a number of enanhcements. The list below is not complete, however, it covers most of the
notable additions/improvements realized in this latest product release. A
Detailed list of changes made between FME 2003 and FME 2003 X2 can be found Here,
or simply Sit back, relax, and enjoy several movie screen captures with voice overs that provide an introduction to using the FME Suite components.
- Merging (Fan-In) allows easy merging of large numbers of input feature types. (View Movie)
- Feature Type Fanout allows dynamic creation of output feature types. (View Movie)
- Dataset Fanout allows dynamic creation of output datasets. (View Movie)
- Batch Deploy wizard makes creating batch scripts easy. (View Movie)
- More printing options.
- Annotation attachment improvements.
- Integrated sound events.
- Workspaces no longer need to be named and saved before they can be run.
- New transformers: AttributeKeeper, AttributePrefixer, AttributeRenamer, DEMGridGenerator, GOIDGenerator, HexDecoder, HexEncoder, ListRemover, NullGeometryCreator, StringLengthCalculator, UUIDGenerator,
Universal Translator Improvements
- Integrated sound events.
- Batch mode translations, and batch script creation.
Universal Viewer Improvements
- Feature type reordering.
- Sped up redraw when some themes are turned off.
- The measuring tool makes it easy to determine distances between points.
- Added detailed display of coordinates of aggregates and donut polygons.
- Integrated sound events.
- Persistent cache speeds up loading frequently-viewed datasets.
General User Interface Improvements
- Improved format picking based on format substring searching and recently used formats available in all FME Suite applications.
- In Windows Explorer, summary information on the reader, writer and transformers used in mapping files and workspaces are viewable. (View Movie)
- GeoMedia SQL Server Warehouse Reader/Writer.
- PostGIS/PostGreSQL Reader/Writer.
- ArcGIS Binary Grid (AIGrid) Reader.
- ESRI Ascii Grid (AIGrid) Reader/Writer.
- CDED DEM Writer.
- Design File Version 8 Reader.
- TIGER Reader/Writer supports TIGER 2002.
- CSV/Shape/MapInfo Readers can read from multiple directories at a time.
- SVG -- numerous updates to improve precision and reduce file sizes.
- GDF -- now supports TeleAtlas version 3.2.
Greatly improved intersection, overlay, and clipping robustness.
Vertex to vertex snapping added in SnappingFactory/Snapper.
- Added @UUID/UUIDGenerator.
Coordinate Conversion Subsystem Improvements
- EPSG version 6.2.2 supported.
- Malaysian coordinate systems fully (and accurately) supported.
- Dutch National RD-NL coordinate system supported.
Other "Cool" Improvements with FME 2003 X2
- "FME Enabled" FME Objects OEM applications can be upgraded by the installer to access complete FME functionality.
Feature type reordering is now available in the Viewer
to give users complete control on the draw
order. Just drag and drop the feature types
to the desired stacking order position.
Using the Measuring tool, you can now
easily measure the distance between two
locations in your data.
You can now adjust FME Suite application sound
events using the Windows Sound Control
Panel. To make it easier to find, we have
provided direct links through menu items
in each of the three FME Suite components.
For example, you can set Workbench to
make a distinctive sound whenever an
object is cut, pasted, connected, and
Improved format picking based on format
substring searching and recently used
formats is now available in all FME Suite
applications. When you choose a source
or destination format from the pull-down
menu, the ten most recently used formats
are displayed. You can also enter a prefix
or character string that will display a list of
FME Users at-a-Glance
So who's using FME? That's no simple answer as the user-base is rather exhausting, however, here's a
few examples and success stories from some noteworthy users of FME.
PanCanadian Petroleum Limited
PanCanadian was using a number of different mapping systems. This meant that the majority of basemap data was not only inconsistent between those systems, but also that basemaps were using different datums – it was not practical to try to share environmental data that was in both NAD 23 and NAD 87.
After reviewing the state of in-house data, PanCanadian came up with an initiative for a project called MapWiz.
The New System shall allow staff to quickly, easily, and consistently retrieve the most current basemap and environmental spatial data:
- for their area of interest
- in the projection of their choice
- in the format of their choice
- The new system must minimize impact on user workflows, must not require use of new tools, and must save time and money."
Once the goals were defined, that left questions about how the data could be loaded into a central spatial database, how it could be exported in multiple formats, and finally, how to distribute the data to off-site users.
PanCanadian turned to Safe Software to develop a system that would fulfill all the requirements of the
MapWiz initiative. Using Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) technology,
Safe determined that MapWiz should be built with four main subsystems:
- A data import system would have to move all the data to a central spatial database
- A spatial database subsystem would then store the data while allowing access to import and export
- Once the data was in the spatial database, a system would be needed to export it to the various projections and formats
- And finally, all of this would have to happen over the web
FME was responsible for bringing data into the spatial database from various data sources.
The majority of datasets were design files, but FME also imported E00, Shape, AutoCAD, and
Microsoft® Word files. Many issues arose during the data loading. With design files, the combinations of level, color, style, and weight contained meanings of their own. It was essential that not only the data got translated, but the meaning of the data also got translated. As well, the issue of forming polygons revealed the true cleanliness of the line work contained in the source data.
PanCanadian discovered many unforeseen advantages to using MapWiz. First, they found that the web-based interface attracted a far larger user base than was expected. Many of these were non-GIS users. Also, MapWiz improved turn-around time for worksite planning. The Q/A process also saw the benefits of MapWiz due to the fact that it imposed discipline on the records process.
Out of the MapWiz project at PanCanadian grew the commercial software SpatialDirect, which serves spatial data in many FME-supported formats and coordinate systems. Results can be e-mailed or downloaded, and SpatialDirect can be integrated with third-party applications such as ArcIMS, MapExtreme, and MapGuide.
BC Hydro is the predominant supplier of electrical services in the province of British Columbia
serving more than 1.5 million customers. BC Hydro is currently implementing an Enterprise Geographic
Information System (EGIS) based on the GE Smallworld GIS. The organization also uses MicroStation.
Both GE Smallworld GIS and MicroStation run on Windows NT.
The Challenge... Contractors provide data in MicroStation DGN format. After verification and validation procedures have
been performed, the data needs to be merged with provincial maps that are in SAIF
(Spatial Archive and Interchange Format). Ultimately, all this data needs to be imported into
the GE Smallworld GIS.
The complexity of the BC Hydro EGIS data model (over 230 feature types from the As-constructed
Mapping complilation), and the large number of feature types that are imported from the
GDBC TRIM data (over 300 additional feature types) created a key problem to be resolved.
All these features had to be available in MicroStation Design, Carl-Ziess Phocus Phodat and GE
The Solution... BC Hydro chose FME® as a one-stop solution for data verification, data translation, data merging,
and the data import into GE Smallworld GIS
ARKANSAS' GEOSTOR SYSTEM, publicly accessible since January 2001, is the nation's first statewide, seamless,
enterprise-class geospatial information system. It currently holds more than two terabytes of vector,
image and grid data in an Oracle 8i object-relational database and is the core of a wide suite of
applications and software solutions from many different vendors. FME played a major role in the system,
which was designed before SpatialDirect, our web-based data distribution system. In fact, many of the
system components designed for GeoStor could now be supplied by off-the-shelf SpatialDirect.
(User case studies provided by Safe Software Inc.)
What is Spatial ETL?”
- Spatial ETL tools
aim to bring geospatial intelligence to
organizations by bringing the potency of
the geographic position to the desktop.
The objective of ETL tools is to
transfer data from one datastore to another.
To reach that objective they perform three
separate functions. First the extract
function reads data from a specified source
datastore, extracting the desired data. Next,
the transform function processes the
acquired data - transforming it and even
perhaps combining it with other data - to
package it into the correct structure for the
destination datastore. Finally, the load
function writes the resulting data to a target
So what's a workbech all about?
- Imagine using the Workbench to connect to multiple OGC
WFS servers located all around the world, extracting and merging data any way you
want as you load your own local GIS.
Does FME Support MicroStation V8? - MicroStation V8 design file reading, and reading/writing of the open
source PostGIS spatial database and PostgreSQL database.
What about GML? - The latest release offers continued expansion of GML support, X2 also includes OGC Web Feature Service reading capability
Where does the name SAFE Sofwtare come from?
Safe Software was originally named after the Spatial Archive and Interchange Format (SAIF)
What is FME Objects?
FME Objects enables third parties to embed our technology
within their applications. If you have an application and you
want it to be able to read or write one or more of our formats,
then FME Objects is for you. Want an example, just check out the FME Universal Viewer!
How does FME handle the support for new and/or proprietary data formats? -
If you want FME to support your GIS format
or new database format, then you should use the FME Plug-in
SDK. Using the FME
Plug-in SDK to add support for a new format or database allows
your format to participate fully in all FME technologies,
including Workbench, Translator, Viewer, SpatialDirect, and
Need more info? Be sure to check out a
FREE web cast series providing interactive and informative web seminars led by
members of the Safe Software team. Learn how to maximize the benefits of your Feature Manipulation
Engine (FME) software and keep up-to-date on the latest product
releases. Visit www.safe.com/webcast for more information
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