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.