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FME International User Conference 2009 – Twitter Time?

There are many, many things I could write about last week’s FME International User Conference in Whistler. I could write about the fantastic job our marketing team did putting the...


There are many, many things I could write about last week’s FME International User Conference in Whistler. I could write about the fantastic job our marketing team did putting the whole thing together. I could write about the fantastic setting that Whistler offers. I could write about the amazing ways I saw FME being used and applied in the outstanding set of customer stories that were presented. I could write about the broad range and depth of technical questions that our technical staff, disguised as doctors , fielded tirelessly throughout the conference agenda. I could write about the wonderful ideas for improving, enhancing, and extending FME functionality that our users gave us. I could write about James Fee’s thought-provoking keynote (Aside: any keynote featuring an Atari cassette player is tops in my book). I could write about the opportunities that the conference offered to make many new friends and reconnect with many longtime ones. Or I could write about some of the very powerful new FME developments that Don and I showcased on stage.

twitter_logoBut I won’t write about any of those things. Instead, I’ll muse a bit about the increasing importance of a technology that I have been slow to embrace — Twitter. Ahead of the conference, we decided to have a Twitter backchannel set up for the Tweeters among us. As this search shows, Twitter they did. Immediately after the FME user conference I had to fly to Washington, and I picked up the recent Time magazine for its very well done article on How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live. The article contains stories of how Twitter can supplement gatherings, and bring people into discussions they are otherwise unable to attend. And this in fact happened several times during our conference. Bonus – we have a record of it all. Not all of it useful, but a record none the less.

One of the talks at the FME user conference was from Brendan Cunningham of Kilkenny County in Ireland. He showed how they were using FME in conjunction with SQL Server to alert residents of service outages with SMS messages. In our FME 2010 and beyond segment, Don showed how he’d set up FME server with our prototype Tweeter transformer to send alerts out via Twitter and from there via SMS to unsuspecting but willing audience members. All of this almost exactly lines up with the 9th of Times’ 10 Ways that Twitter Will Change American BusinessA New Way For Government To Reach You. We’re even using Twitter at Safe to announce the availability of new FME Betas – and even a luddite like myself has been finding that useful.

And so, in the next few days, we’ll be adding a suite of Twitter transformers into FME – so tune into to FMEBetaBuilder on Twitter to be the first to learn when these soon-to-be-favourites are available:

  • Tweeter – update a status
  • DirectTweeter – send a message directly to another Twitter user (must be one of your followers)
  • TweetSearcher – search recent Tweets for a particular query (keyword, hashtag, username etc)
  • TwitterStatusFetcher – retrieve the recent status updates for a particular user

(all names subject to Twitter community comment and review)

It seems to me that resistance is futile, and there is much, much more to Twitter than just finding out when Jeff Konnen is eating breakfast. Maybe tonight I’ll sign up….

Update: Tuesday, June 16

Someone pointed me to an excellent summary of the FME User Conference that Hans van der Maarel wrote on his blog with individual posts for pre-conference, day 0, day 1, and day 2.

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