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FME Evangelism Weekly Issue #6

Contents Format Names FME Worldwide User Conference – Sneak Peek New Format: Golden Software Surfer 6 Binary Grid SpikeRemover Example HTTP Authentication Function FME for FDO Jason Birch’s list of...

Contents

1) Format Names

For FME2008 you may notice some changes in the names of formats, as we have implemented a set of guidelines to try and standardize format names, and prevent them having to be continually updated.

In general we have dropped version numbers from format names, because it only gets confusing as to what is supported, plus the names need to get changed when a new version comes out. Also we’ve avoided using the words “Database”, “File”, or “Raster” unless it is really part of the name.

Acronyms will not get expanded, unless they are rare enough to need explanation, and some format names will be in a non-English language where appropriate.

2) FME User Conference – Sneak Peek
Having spent all of yesterday eavesdropping on the marketing team, I can exclusively(!) reveal the latest inside information about the upcoming user conference.

The latest session to be added to the agenda is:

Do or Do Not: Master Yoda’s Guide to Avoiding the Dark Side of Raster
As the abstract says, “Powerful is FME; but complex are raster formats. Great are the differences between a raster band and palette. Join us to find out how to avoid the pitfalls faced by an apprentice raster master, and how to effectively translate data between raster formats.”

Also revealed are the titles of the hands-on workshops:

  • FME Server
  • Updating Spatial Databases with FME
  • Tips and Tricks to Make You an FME Superhero

Click these links for the current conference agenda and full list of presentations …and don’t forget that early bird registration ends in a week’s time.

3) New Format: Golden Software Surfer 6 Binary Grid
One truly new item this week is the addition of a reader and writer for the Surfer Binary Grid format, version 6. Apparently this is a format used in the petroleum and exploration industry.

Technical Info: The format stores a single band of floating point numerical (Real32) data, and has the ability to set a nodata value. Surfer 6 Binary Grid files also store some georeferencing information (minimum and maximum x, y, and z values). However, they do not support attribution or coordinate systems, except via external metadata files such as .TAB files.

The format is available in the latest FME2008 betas, and requires a Professional Edition license or higher. Support for version 7 and the version 7 ASCII variant will follow in FME2009.

4) SpikeRemover Example
The SpikeRemover transformer is a new item that….. well it removes spikes from your geometry.
Now we have a good example of that transformer on fmepedia, courtesy ofFME scenario specialist Dmitri Bagh.
http://www.fmepedia.com/index.php/SpikeRemover

Dmitri notes that: “If the geometry of a feature is a path, the transformer removes spikes between consecutive path segments as well. For a polygon or donut, if the start/end point is a spike, then it is also removed. The end result is still a polygon/donut. Any polygons, donuts, paths or lines that are part of a collection of geometry [ie aggregate] will also be processed.”

5) HTTP Authentication Function
All web-related formats and transformers such as WFS (left), WMS and the HTTPFetcher have recently been enhanced with the option to use HTTP Authentication. This means that users can now access data that is protected by a username and password.

Three types of authentication are supported: basic, digest and NTLM

6) FME for FDO
In the category of “nice FME use we wouldn’t have known about if the user didn’t write a blog” here are a couple of articles about the new FME for FDO application.

Firstly, user Sean Twomey used this tool to read a whole folder of MapInfo TAB files in a way that’s both “live and funky”. Thanks for the great review Sean. http://edgeofwedge.com/survey.php?p=46

Secondly, user Gwenael Bachelot also reads a folder of MapInfo TAB files (I spot a trend here), and helpfully points out that a full FME license would expose within the FDO all of the other FME supported formats. His article is in French, but with a handy button to translate to English. Thanks Gwenael.
http://geospatialfrance.typepad.com/geospatialfrance/2007/12/fournisseur-fdo.html

7) Jason Birch’s list of favourite FME Transformers!
In case you don’t read the user group postings, Jason Birch (Certified FME Professional, MVP and all round FME power user) recently listed his favourite transformers. I don’t remember why, but it’s an interesting read:

Best Transformer
TopologyBuilder – allows some amazing Q/A processes when combined with FeatureMergers SpatialRelator – relationships are the backbone of complex spatial analysis ExpressionEvaluator – swiss army knife of transformers
Best Supporting Transformer
StringSearcher – insanely powerful for pattern matching and fuzzy searching Tester – this simple but solid transformer, along with its close cousin AttributeFilter, is used in almost all of my workspaces Concatenator – used extensively to build “maptip” fields for web maps FeatureMerger – flip and fold features like there’s no tomorrow
Best Transformer Producer
Sampler – speeds up development, slashing production costs Visualiser – provides insight into production on a granular level SummaryReporter – while this is good for ongoing reporting, it can also help considerably during production
Best Transformer Category
List* – lists are my absolute favourite construct in FME Raster* – very, very handy when you need them
Coolest Transformer Not Used
TransporterSender/Receiver – these things are neat, but I don’t have the volume that would benefit from their use
Least Understood Transformer
SchemaMapper – I know this could be powerful, but have never taken the time to figure it out

Jason also says:
“Of course, a number of transformers and other components require special merit awards. This includes things like neo-readers and writers like KML, GeoRSS and GeoJSON, and neat things like PythonCaller (and its cousin TCLCaller), WebCharter, KMLStyler (wow, what a lifesaver this thing is), VirtualEarthTiler, and HTTP* transformers.
OK, forget the list. I just love all of FME 🙂 “

Brief Notes

  • The Extruder transformer has been upgraded to extrude point features into a vertical line
  • The IFC Reader now has added styledItems support
  • The AutoCAD OD reader has a fix to handle the case when arcs are split on reading
  • The time taken to open large workspaces should be cut by a performance improvement in FME2008.
  • The RasterGeoreferencer transformer now prohibits the use of negative settings values

This week’s Weekly was written to the tune of…
Ian McNabb’s “Still Got the Fever”. The whole album this is from (Head Like a Rock) is full of great tracks like this.

This one isn’t on iTunes (other McNabb songs are), so here’s a YouTube link of a live version. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjADocr31Go

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