Monthly Archives: March 2010

Inspire: Part II

Having written about the basics of the Inspire initiative, it’s time to write more about the means by which Inspire will be implemented. Before that go through this short review of the last post:

Inpire in short:

  • Inspire defines several spatial data themes
  • Governmental Agencies will provide their data that belong to a theme
  • The data is provided with metadata
  • Online services are needed for data acquisition


There are several services that are defined:

  • Registry Service: Provides the data specifications and their data models of spatial datasets from Download Services for users to browse.
  • Discovery Service :Enables the search of spatial datasets and services with metadata. Also enables viewing metadata.
  • View Service: Enables viewing spatial datasets on monitor, and several map view functionality.
  • Download Service :Enables download spatial datasets and their subsets to your computer.
  • Transformation Service :Enables transformation of the spatial datasets to Inspire defined datamodels. First it will apply to coordinate transformation from national coordinate systems to European ETRS89 coordinate systems.
  • Invoke Service: Enables invoking the web services.

The services work as interface services, which means that agencies are not required to create client applications, just the interfaces that the client applications use. In the following picture you can see the services, metadata, spatial data sets, service bus and applications.


  • ISO: ISO 19101:2002 Reference model, …
  • OGC: GML, WFS, WMS, …

Not too hard, wasn’t it? Part II was mainly for shortly presenting the web services. In the following parts of this series, you’ll see more of the services. It’s actually my favorite component of Inspire.

Inspire defines several web services: Registry, Discovery, View, Download, Transformation and Invoke services.


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Inspire: Part I

Inspire Directive's Weird Logo

This post begins my Inspire series. The series contains general information, what is Inspire, and when it happens. I won’t go too deep into details and the law text of the Inspire directive, which could easily make my few subscribers press the unsubscribe button.


As some hawk-eyed readers might have noticed, Inspire is a directive meaning that it is a legislation for which EU members are bound.  It is also an initiative to create a European SDI. It aims for

  1. better coordination between government agencies,
  2. more effective usage of spatial data sets,
  3. and diverse services for citizens.

The directive itself  can be emphasized in following keywords: interoperable spatial datasets, exchange of spatial data services, their joint use availability in various levels of governing and industries. If we bring the keywords together in one sentence, it might look like this:

“The directive’s aim is to enable exchange, joint use, and availability of spatial data sets, and services associated with this information.”

Spatial Data sets

There are 42 spatial data themes to which the directive is applied, and they belong to 3 Annexes. I won’t list them here, you can find them in the sources.

Whew! Time to have a deep breath, yes, just like that. This is needed before going to metadata.


The agencies that provide the spatial data sets should provide their metadata and attach it to the services. Metadata includes descriptions about the data the agencies make available. For metadata enthusiasts, you might want to check out this document:


This is the end of the part. Part II will tell you, what are the methods to implement this, and what a moon (what an earth is too often used, so I use moon instead) are the services, which should provide the 42 data themes?! Stay tuned.


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FMEDays 2010

Being a FME user, I just had to travel to Münster, Germany, where FMEDays 2010 was held. After arriving to Düsseldorf, I took a wrong train to Minden, which is not apparently Münster. After totally 5 hours of train travelling I found Münster, which should be about 1 hour 30 minutes from Düsseldorf. Does anyone else, who’s working with GIS, has a lousy homing instinct?

After all, I found Münster. Thank you Safe Software and con terra for a great user conference! I won’t forget all the resellers and users either: Thank you for all the conversations we had. I spilled couple of times coffee, first one happened when I heard the secret word “WFS” and my coffee fell all the way from 3rd floor down to the con terra reception on a poor con terra employee. Again, my apologies, if you’re reading this blog. Anyway, was the conference worth it? I give you 3 reasons, why it was worth it:

  1. FME 2010
  2. FME Users
  3. Future

1. FME 2010 belongs to one of the most biggest releases Safe Software has ever had. Just look at its XML, raster, 3D capabilities and performance. I’m really excited about replacing all those XSLT scripts with a transformer called XMLTemplater. 3D capabilities include raster draping, this one is from Dimitris 3D Place:World DEM

I’ve used FME 2010 since the beginning of 2009, and I’m really impressed of the new functionality such as adding transformers just by typing in the canvas, and the workspace search.

2. FME Community has quite excellent and smart users, if you look at what they’ve accomplished with FME. Here are just a few examples, that I saw:

  • Augmented Reality, Vicrea. FME was used to create 2D and 3D objects (City center) for augmented reality application on Iphone.
  • Building a 3D City Model with FME, HNIT BALTIC. In contrast with earlier CAD to 3D solutions, FME was used to build a 3D city model from GIS datasets. The 3D city model was also published to web, so you could have a virtual walk inside the model!
  • Lithuanian SDI, GIS-Centras: FME Server was utilized in providing download and transformation services for users.
  • Contractor Portal, Dottedeyes: If you’re looking for a solution which combines open source components with a transformation services software, you have to see this presentation.

Remember that FME users are not just FME users, they come from several different product, database, format and coordinate system environments. Just to mention a few, some are enthusiastic ESRI products users, some work closely with databases, and some are CAD software users. They still gather together because of FME, and they have fun together!

3. Safe Software seems to love XML, since FME’s XML support seem to increase in every FME release. They’ve also made a very good progress with metadata support, and that is a tale which is just beginning. Which makes me write a postit note that I should start studying metadata more seriously. Don & Dale show is also one thing to mention. If you don’t have any other reason to attend FME User Conferences, at least do it because of Don & Dale. They’re the rock stars of GIS world!

Now I just have to process all the ideas I got from the presentations and discussions, it’s just hard to cope with the post-conference-melancholy. Coming back to normal weekdays is always tough after great conferences. 😉


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Begin from the youth

If you have a product that isn’t too well-known, or it is well-known, but you would like to see more growth in sales, there is one wise move you could take. You might also have compiled your expertise to a product or several products, such as training and consultancy. If you want to see steady growth in sales, look at ESRI, and learn from them. If you don’t know ESRI, it’s a well-known software development and services company providing GIS software. ESRI has about million users around the world. One million?! How do they do it? What I have seen is that, ESRI products are in almost every Finnish university that teaches GIS. Of course, they have a very good distributor network, but I think they’ve made a wise move providing their products free for universities.

So, what to do? If you have a software, give it for free to students. They start to learn it, and if they like it, after they’ve graduated, they’re keen to have the same software in their companies or organizations they’re working for. That means sales for you. From my experience, I must say, that the software should be good and easy to use. Students are smart, they know what they want, and if the software doesn’t meet their demands, they’re willing to throw it away.

If you’re an expert selling your expertise, give lectures, thus making you known to students. When graduating, they know you, and if they like you, they’ll buy from you. It’s that simple. Look at McDonald’s, why do they have the clown Ronald McDonald as their mascot? Why is a large part of their marketing directed to children? I think we all know the answers.

First step: You can start by calling to the school staff that teach GIS, and have a lunch together.


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Spatial Data Transformation

What is transformation? Changing a form is a good answer, and that’s what we see in everyday life. We are eager to physically transform ourselves to look better, or we want to transform the objects around us, such as an egg, milk and salt transforms to an omelet. How can objects be transformed then? It’s not just transforming them, but knowing clearly what is the original form and the resulting form. We cannot make an omelet, if we know nothing how eggs behave on a pan, and how an omelet should look, smell and most importantly, taste.

In spatial data world, things are not always going as smoothly as with cooking omelets. Occasionally omelets burn, and might taste terrible, but I say that transforming spatial data is much harder. If you are a GIS specialist and have to transform data from format 1 to format 2. You have to have a deep knowledge of the two formats and their data models. Format 1 can have its own data model totally different from the format 2 data model. They might have vastly different geometry and attribute types, that there is no way to transform them automatically. And, the poor GIS specialist has to spend most of his work time to manually fix his data, click after click.

Previously described might have been almost impossible to solve before. There are very good transformation software for spatial data including GoPublisher, FME and others. They are meant to make people’s work easier and faster. The transformation software knows the source format and the result data, and can repeat the transformation process over and over.  The only problem is that how can the specialists be assured that these transformation software help them, makes their work easier, and lets them concentrate on GIS. Is it fear of the new? Having been fixing data errors click after click for 10 years might make some afraid of changes. They surely know what the two data forms, the source format and the result, are all about. They have it all inside their heads. These GIS specialists are true specialists, they surely know what they’re doing. I say, that combining all that knowledge with modern data transformation tools, would make a lot of transformation projects much shorter.

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