Tag Archives: FME

Reading Inspire XML with FME

@SafeSoftware asked, if there’s any chance I’ll write this blog post also in English: http://gissiajapaikkatietoa.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/mmln-kuntarajat-fmella/. There’s a very good chance you can read it in English, since I’m now writing it in English. Finnish doesn’t seem to be the universal language yet, thus I understand @SafeSoftware’s question.

To begin with, according to Safe Software, FME 2012 can read XML documents in Inspire schemas out of the box, since FME 2012 contains Inspire schema files (from Annex I). This would mean that reading XML documents in Inspire schemas and writing to different formats is easier than before. This needs testing!

Downloading data

I’m testing the new functionality with open data from the National Land Survey of Finland.

I download municipality boundaries in XML from http://www.maanmittauslaitos.fi/ilmaisetaineistot.

Reading data

I choose INSPIRE GML as the format and municipality boundaries as the dataset with a scale of 1:100 000.

Inspire GML-luku
Next thing to do is to check parameters. I choose Dataset Only as the setting for Show Feature Types from:

As a result, I get two feature types, AdministrativeBoundary ja AdministrativeUnit. Complex properties are mapped now as nested attributes. For example following XML fragment







will form two attributes inspireId.Identifier.localId and inspireId.Identifier.namespace.

AdministravieBoundary ja AdministrativeUnit

Writing data

Let’s continue the test by writing administrative units and boundaries to different formats, e.g. MapInfo TAB, ESRI Shape, KML, PDF, DWG. I built the workspace and defined three parameters, with which I can direct the transformation of the data. The parameters are: Source file(s), Destination folder and Destination data format. The end-user doesn’t need to do anything else than define the values for the parameters and click OK.

Inspecting results

After running the workspace, we can inspect the results in FME Data Inspector or Viewer. For the first run, I chose MapInfo TAB as the destination data format, and the result has correct geometries and attributes:

Kuntarajat MapInfo TAB:ina.

Other formats that I tested were KML, PDF ja DWG, which worked without problems.

Reading XML data in Inspire schemas is now very handy with FME.


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Real time bus visualization

Some of you might know that you can publish real time data to FME Server as a KML Network Link, and then visualize data in Google Earth. Safe Software (www.safe.com) has this really great real time taxi demo:

It generates taxi locations with a Python script, and FME Server is used to stream the locations and visualize them in Google Earth.

While I was fiddling with the demo, I throught, could this be used for visualizing buses, which get real-time passenger information, for example current number of passenger. So, I downloaded the demo Safe provides, and started modyfying it.

Modifications included creating 3D features from each bus location, and extruding each feature by number of passengers. Also, the number of passengers is visible on top of each feature with the bus number, for example, 111 | 30, where 111 is bus number, and 30 is the number of passengers.

The bus data is real time data, and is updated in every second. FME provides a really easy way to handle real time data, and publish it to applications such as Google Earth.

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From Smallworld to 3D PDF

I’ve worked with Smallworld for several years now. One of the useful ways to visualize all kinds of spatial data is utilizing 3D PDF. PDF itself is widely known format, thus why not use 3D PDF for visualizing data derived from Smallworld database. First I built some electricity network in Smallworld (Poles and cables), then forests around them and a few buildings. Poles, forests and buildings had height attributes, so that helped to transform them from 2D to 3D. Also I had a DEM from the area, so the task was to transform all the features to 3D and place them on the DEM. Also, a raster was added on the DEM.

The main challenge

The main challenge was how to transform data from 2D to 3D world. FME has a couple of useful transformers for constructing and transforming 3D objects: Extruder and SurfaceDraper.

Extruder stretches your 2D features to 3D by a specified height or a vector.

SurfaceDraper places your 2D features on an elevation model. You should use SurfaceDraper first and then after that Extruder.

An other challenge were to make the cables hang. It worked well with a bunch of transformers. The result of the hanging cables can be seen in the picture.

Here is a picture of the result, where you can see the cable, forests and buildings in the left.

Here is another picture of the result 3D PDF.

From Smallworld to 3D PDF with FME

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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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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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