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Code Warriors

A road trip probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you're wrapping up a major product release. But for Actian, developers of enterprise grade open source database Ingres, a little Canadian hospitality and office space turned out to be perfectly timed.

A road trip probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’re wrapping up a major product release. But for Actian, developers of enterprise grade open source database Ingres, a little Canadian hospitality and office space turned out to be perfectly timed.

Ingres has a long track record in the world of open source, and Actian had an ambitious list of enhancements for release 10S, including geospatial data support. As their business moves towards helping large companies tackle “Big Data”, the need for an efficient way to bring multiple data sources into Ingres was apparent.

FME looked like the perfect choice. It had the formats they wanted, both spatial and non-spatial, mature developer tools for building plugins, and a generous Developer Partner Program that includes complimentary FME licenses. Plus, as Tyler Mitchell, Engineering Director at Actian tells us, “Many of our current and future clients are already FME users. It made sense on multiple levels – not just technically, but in terms of credibility and market potential too. The question wasn’t should we do it, it was could we do it with the product launch deadline fast approaching.”

There was one roadblock – no in-house specialists and an unknown learning curve to get up to speed on the FME developer tools. When you’re building your own format plugin with the FME SDK, it’s easy to get started, with templates and reference projects provided so that you’re not venturing forth from mile zero. The Ingres format, though, being a highly complex and functional database, was a bit more complicated than typical file formats.

After working through the initial design and functional spec stages, we invited Actian to take advantage of some onsite time at our facility. That’s when Alex Trofast, Senior Software Engineer, packed his bags and hit the road for points west to spend a week working onsite at Safe’s Surrey, Canada offices.

There wasn’t a lot of time for sightseeing, though – the week was planned out to maximize Alex’s time with direct access to Safe’s own experts and the FME development team. By week’s end, the plugin’s development had taken a huge leap forward, and Alex headed homeward with functional code, ready for final touches. The initial development sprint – originally estimated to be around two months – was finished in two weeks. With the oversight and guidance of the FME dev team, they also had the confidence that it would be done right and seamlessly integrate with Ingres 10S.

Fil Vera, Director of Engineering, leads Safe’s product integration team, and tells us a bit about why he welcomes outside developers. “This community is a really important part of extending format support for FME,” he says. “If you’re doing a plugin, don’t be shy – come talk to us. Sometimes we even ship outside plugins as part of the FME product. We provide all the resources we can, including adding tests to our automated test platform. And a few days spent onsite at Safe can really make a difference – both in time and product quality.”

So, as Fil says – come talk to us if your plugin development looks like it could benefit from some hands-on expertise from the Safe development team. Perhaps we’ll see you soon in Surrey. Road Trip!

For more information on the FME Developers Program, go to safe.local/developers.

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