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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Performance Enhancements Power Safe Software’s FME 2009 Release
By Susan Smith
This week, Dale Lutz, co-founder and vice president of Development of Safe Software and Don Murray, president and co-founder, talked about FME 2009, Safe Software’s new release in an interview with GISWeekly.
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The new version includes releases of FME Desktop and FME Server, based on Safe’s spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) technology, and focuses on foundational changes that address performance, memory and making use of computers’ resources. In keeping with the goals of many software and hardware companies today, Safe is all about boosting performance, evidenced in the new release, which runs 20% faster across their entire suite of tests. Actual customer cases reported 20 times faster performance in some conversions with the new releases as well.
“We’ve launched this foundational team that fully looks at performance for every release, so our mandate now is to make every release faster than the previous release,” explained Lutz. “Not only is 2009 the first release to have that, in over about 4,000 tests it’s about 20% faster and there’s still more work to be done. In fact, we also looked at as many previous releases as we could, and this is the fastest release of the last four.”
Murray concurred that vendors typically focus on new features; and as a product matures, those features tend to be important to fewer people. “We try to find those things that will matter to all our users, not just the super advanced users or those doing new things. Performance is something everyone cares about, if you can take a job that used to take eight hours and finish it in six hours, that enables users to work with larger data sets and that’s what we’re seeing. The amount of data organizations want to work with is increasing.”
The increase in the demand for improved data interoperability also drives FME releases, as the numbers of popular and widely used formats increases, and more non-traditional GIS users join the ranks of users of spatial data. Geographically referenced data has also become more popular and has led to larger data sets from sources such as Google Earth and Virtual Earth.
The authoring environment for FME, Workbench, has also undergone user interface enhancements. Workbench is where most organizations create their spatial ETL workflows, according to Murray.
Jason Birch outlines what he thinks are three of the best enhancements to the new user interface in his blog:
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“First, they created a really intuitive “default settings” interface. As far as I can remember, previous releases didn’t even have default settings for transformers, and dataset defaults were set through a dialog box hidden in the configuration UI. It was so much trouble to use that I don’t imagine many people were setting default values unless they had something that really annoyed them:
The second feature that I really like about the new UI is Quick Connect. Mark describes this over at the FME Evangelist blog better than I ever could… make sure to watch his cheesy movie for some time-saving tips.
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The final feature that I really like is the ability to edit source feature attributes. Now normally, source feature attributes don’t change, and even if they do FME provides an effective wizard that allows you to refresh the source feature definitions from their original source without manual intervention. Where this really comes in handy is when you use the optional SELECT Statement parameter to join to a secondary table:”
For the full blog, visit the website
Lutz noted that Safe Software continues to push on into the 3D and BIM format realm, believing those areas will become even more important as time goes on. “Just as now people expect to see their data in globes, a few years from now, people will expect more immersive views of their data -- the whole 3D and BIM is key to that,” Lutz predicted. “We have support in this release for Autodesk 3ds MAX and CityGML and we continue to improve our 3D support.”
Another format that FME 2009 supports is OBJ, a visualization format that originated with the company Alias Wavefront. There is currently no reference application for Wavefront, however, many people use it and there are many applications that want to read the format in different ways.
For 2009, Safe has also added support for Adobe Geospatial PDF, which allows users to share mapping data with users using only Acrobat Reader, on FME Desktop or FME Server. Adobe added geospatial capabilities into their PDF technology so that when users open a geospatially enabled PDF, they can find locations, measure distances, add location markers, and copy coordinates to the clipboard to use with a web mapping service. Both professionals and consumers can use this tool.
Safe also added “significant” XML technology inside the FME core, in the form of XQuery. XQuery, used by many, is an XML language that according to Wikipedia, is designed to query collections of XML data. It allows you to pull stuff apart, put it back together and reformat in XML. A partner commented that one of the most amazing attributes of FME 2009 was the ability to do such things with XQuery from within the FME Workbench environment.
Safe is making sure their technology works well with Autodesk’s LandXplorer, derived from the acquisition of 3DGeo. LandXplorer is one of the few products today that reads and understands CityGML very fully. According to Lutz, users can use FME which offers full support, to produce CityGML.
The same engine that is part of FME Desktop is part of the newer product, FME Server. Once users upgrade to FME Server 2009 they immediately get the 20% performance boost.
When looking at the FME graph, it continues to be a “straight line” since 1997. There are about 225 formats supported so far which Safe produces, ships and maintains. Because third parties are allowed to plug into the Safe FME framework without needing to register as users, any user can read a format. Murray said that there are dozens of other formats companies have made to suit their own internal needs and sell commercially.
Newly supported formats include Adobe Geospatial PDF, Autodesk 3ds, CityGML, IBM Informix Spatial, OpenStreetMap (OSM) XML and more.
A lot has been said about performance, and part of getting a performance boost is being able to process large datasets. This means changes on the platform side, in this case, in the form of support for 64-bit technology. FME 2009 is the first release of the product that includes support at an “engine level” for 64-bit. This runs on a 64-bit operating system such as Windows 64-bit or Linux 64-bit. Servers are now also available on Windows 64-bit, Linux 64-bit and Solaris 64-bit. The process of making this happen has taken over two years, according to Murray. He also noted that not all formats that Safe supports on 32-bit Windows platforms are available, because sometimes certain formats don’t get to the other platforms. Safe is working on putting together a definitive list of what formats are available on what platforms.
In the Cloud
In response to the bigger datasets, Safe Software continually retools their algorithms, in order to be able to process a dataset “no matter how big it is on whatever machine you want,” explained Lutz. Cloud computing presents a possible alternative. “The data volumes are so massive, now with the cloud we have another way of processing these huge datasets. The computer hardware just can’t do it, it’s not a software restriction so much as it’s a computer asset problem. That’s what we’re going to see with the cloud, not just people moving their existing infrastructure to the cloud, but actually solving new problems with all this access and compute power.”
See GISWeekly, June 30, 2008 for more on cloud computing and Safe Software.
According to Lutz, indications have been strong this quarter (Q4 2008) and FME Desktop sales continue to grow. FME Server meets a totally different client need, helping to drive the desktop and enabling bringing spatial data to “a whole new set of applications – web applications.”
FME software is on a nine-month cycle, with another software release expected in fall, 2009.
Top News of the Week
At 11:19 a.m. (EST) GeoEye-1 collected an image over the United States Capitol and the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken from 423 miles in space, is the world's highest resolution, color satellite image of the Inaugural celebration. See image
The image, taken through high, whispy white clouds over Washington D.C., shows the monuments along the National Mall and masses of people between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Among the many interesting features in the image are the clusters of people gathered around large jumbotron screens.
The image was taken by GeoEye's newest satellite, GeoEye-1, as it moved from north to south along the eastern seaboard of the United States traveling at 17,000 mph or about four miles per second.
DigitalGlobe, provider of high-resolution world imagery content, and The AEgis Technologies Group, a provider of expert modeling and simulation services, announced the availability of ImageScape, a rapid 3D imagery solution that will provide governments, enterprises and developers with the capability to create rich simulations of any location in the world. ImageScape has the power to generate 3D virtual terrain models of the world’s land mass by integrating high-precision, accurate satellite and aerial imagery and Digital Elevation Models (DEM) with a flexible, lightweight viewer which creates media-broadcast quality terrain models.
Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances
Petris has acquired ZEH Software, Inc., effective December 31, 2008. ZEH is the recognized leader and was one of the key pioneers in the area of computer graphics for the oil and gas, GIS and MCAD industries. ZEH’s enterprise plotting and montaging solutions are standards in the industry and are used by the majority of oil & gas companies worldwide. With its graphics software and recently added seismic information management suite, ZEH provides software solutions that significantly improve the productivity of many of the world's leading oil and gas companies.
RapidEye, Germany's only geospatial solutions provider to own and operate their own satellite constellation, announced that Beijing Earth Observation, Inc. (BEO), a subsidiary of Eastdawn Group. Inc., will be their Chinese distributor.
OnAsset Intelligence Inc., a provider of wireless asset tracking, sensing, and control solutions, announces a strategic partnership with GeoDecisions, an information technology company specializing in geospatial solutions, to extend the company’s OnAsset Platform with robust, mature, geospatial tools. Marking a first-of-its-kind, web-based, machine-to-machine (M2M) application, OnAsset Platform provides customers with visibility into near-real-time asset information like operational condition, location, dwell time, route adherence, and two-way, over-the-air (OTA) device control capabilities. Now, OnAsset will offer new, advanced features only possible using in depth geospatial information from GeoDecisions, like near-real-time weather and traffic, HAZMAT plume modeling, and important infrastructure data including locations of police departments and emergency responders, airports, railways, seaports worldwide, and much more.
Spatial Networks, a privately held Clearwater-based global technology firm delivering proprietary geospatial applications across the world, announced it has completed the acquisition of Tampa-based TrekServ, LLC, a privately held global tracking technology firm. The two companies have enjoyed a strategic partnership over the past years. Details of the agreement were not made public.
Infoterra Ltd has extended its portfolio of end-to-end geospatial products and services through an agreement with Safe Software Inc. to distribute FME from 1st January 2009.
FME is the only complete spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) solution available for data conversion and distribution. It provides support for over 200 GIS, CAD, raster and database formats to enable seamless translation, transformation, integration and distribution of spatial data.
Manatron, Inc., provider of integrated, enterprise-level property solutions for state and local governments, has acquired Software Techniques, Inc. (STI), a leading supplier of computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) software to government property appraisal districts. The acquisition was financed through an investment by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, LLC.
DMTI Spatial (DMTI), a provider of location intelligence, announced that registration is now open for its annual customer and partner conference, Expedition 2009. The Conference is scheduled for April 8-9, 2009, at The King Edward Hotel in Toronto.
The Expedition 2009 conference is organized and hosted by DMTI Spatial Inc. For more information and to register visit: DMTI Expedition Website
Autodesk, Inc. announced a restructuring plan to reduce its annual operating expenses. The company anticipates the restructuring will result in annual pre-tax cost savings of approximately $130 million annually starting in fiscal 2010.
As part of its restructuring plan, Autodesk plans to reduce its workforce by approximately 750 employees, representing approximately 10 percent of the company's global workforce. The company also plans to consolidate certain facilities. The actions announced are in addition to the ongoing cost reduction initiatives previously announced, which include a hiring freeze, business travel restrictions, and other reductions in its operating expenses. See press release
Trimble announced that it expects fourth quarter 2008 revenue in the range of $268 to $269 million and earnings per share of $0.22 to $0.24. Trimble will discuss its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2008 financials in detail in its regularly scheduled conference call on February 3, 2009. See press release
TerraGo Technologies, a provider of software solutions that extend the access and application of geospatial data to professional consumers, announced details of the momentum it achieved in Q4 2008. Highlights for the quarter include the launch of a revised corporate brand and solid delivery on product, customer and partnership initiatives. In addition, fourth quarter sales increased 28 percent over the same period last year, and the company surpassed the 700 customer mark. See announcement
The Sidwell Company is pleased to announce that Mark Dupree, their Director of GIS Sales, has been appointed to lead the Mapping and GIS Section of the International Association of Assessing Officers for 2009. In his role as the Chair of the Mapping and GIS Section, Mr. Dupree will work with this group and lead their efforts to promote the exchange of information and ideas among those involved in the mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) communities. Previously, he held the position of Vice Chair of the IAAO Mapping and GIS Section.
TeleNav, Inc., wireless navigation services provider in North America, announced that it has added new features to its recently launched TeleNav Shotgun, a two-way, Internet-connected GPS personal navigation device (PND) developed for business travelers. Customers can now track miles driven using TeleNav Shotgun, saving valuable time and resources they may have otherwise spent compiling expense reports. TeleNav Shotgun now also provides customers with ratings and reviews for various points of interest (POIs), including restaurants, hotels and shopping malls, and allows customers to rate the POIs directly from their device.
Caliper Corporation, provider of GIS, transportation and mapping software, is pleased to announce the latest 5-digit ZIP Code boundaries and points for the entire United States ($195).
These boundaries reflect changes such as new housing and commercial development, and are based on Post Office updates through December 1, 2008. The ZIP Code data are for use with Caliper's GIS products, including Maptitude and TransCAD.
Inventis announced the release of OGR2GUI version 0.5, the graphical user interface used to convert and manipulate geospatial data.
What’s new in this version:
- the execution of the program without installer
- now supports batch processing
- support of BNA (Boundary File) file format
Around the Web
Satellites, balloons, and math used to count inauguration crowd CNET News.com, January 20, 2009, Elinor Mills
|Date:||January 26 - 28, 2009|
|Place:||New Orleans, LA USA|
The ILMF is the premier event for the LIDAR industry attracting professionals from all over the world with the next event scheduled for January 26 – 28, 2009 in New Orleans, USA. The last event saw record growth in attendance from both delegates and visitors.
|GIS 2.0 - Technical and Programming Developments for Electric and Gas Utilities|
|Date:||January 26 - 28, 2009|
|Place:||San Antonio, TX USA|
Geographic Information Systems for utilities are advancing with new mobile, server, and network capabilities. The functionality of new application programming interfaces (APIs) for use with mobile GIS along with the integration of revere proxy servers, web-based portals, increased asset inventory, and lowering costs all mean GIS is ready for the next generation.
|INTERGEO East 2009|
|Date:||January 27 - 29, 2009|
|Place:||Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Centre (ICEC
In its location of Istanbul, the world's only city on two continents, INTERGEO East will extend over both the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorous. Some fourteen million people live in and around Istanbul. Turkey has given top priority to boosting the region and creating standardized structures. It has also been in accession negotiations with the European Union since 3 October 2005.
|Municipalika'2009 Internatioanal Conference & Exhibition|
|Date:||January 29 - 31, 2009|
|Place:||M.M.R.D.A Grounds,Bandra-Kurla Complex
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
With the rapid pace of urbanization, the percentage of India’s population living in cities and urban areas has almost doubled to 27.8% from 14% at the time of Independence. This is expected to accelerate even further, and by 2021 over 40% of Indians will be living in urban areas. Indian cities provide settings as engines of growth, and at the same time face enormous challenges.
|6TH Annual GIS|
|Date:||February 2 - 3, 2009|
GIS technology can be integrated into any enterprise information system framework. The usage of industrial, agricultural and settlement areas causes various geological events. Morphology, geology, land cover, slope inclination, elevation of any region is important area to be considered for the 21st century standard of preserving our land, culture, society and business growth.
|2009 CA/HI/NV Regional User Group (CAHINVRUG) Conference|
|Date:||February 3 - 5, 2009|
|Place:||Doubletree Hotel Sacramento
Sacramento, CA USA
|California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands are invited to the CA/HI/NV RUG Conference. Whatever your industry, position, or level of experience with GIS, you’re encouraged to attend and explore GIS in action with ESRI staff and your fellow professionals.
|Date:||February 4 - 6, 2009|
There will be an exhibition from the vendors/manufacturers of software and hardware related to remote sensing, GIS, Photogrammetry, cartography etc. The NGOs and agencies working in Geomatics related fields can display their products and services and use the opportunity to provide on the spot consultancy to potential users. Exhibition will be open to both the delegates and the general public for creating wider awareness.
|Innovative GIS Strategies for Jump Starting Your Stormwater Utility|
|Date:||February 5, 2009|
RFP Mapping LLC and NCDC Imaging have partnered together to deliver a powerful new tool that allows municipalities, arborists, engineers, academics and researchers to make better decisions about projects impacting their local communities and the environment.
|13th Annual GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference|
|Date:||February 8 - 11, 2009|
|Place:||Charleston, SC USA|
The International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) are pleased to announce the 13th GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference, to be held February 8-11, 2009 in Charleston. This conference is designed to foster collaboration and integration of data, technology, and functionality.
|Map World Forum|
|Date:||February 10 - 13, 2009|
|Place:||Hyderabad International Convention Centre
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Map World Forum will not just be a conference. It will be a forum that will simply aim to “Converge Ideas and Expand Horizons for Sustainable Planet Earth”. It will aim beyond speeches and discussions to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives.
|Location Summit 2.0|
|Date:||February 12 - 13, 2009|
|Place:||Hyderabad International Convention Centre
Location Summit 2.0, the first Global Summit on Positioning and Navigation with the theme "Towards Collaborative Model", brings together the pioneers, industry leaders and developers who are setting the direction for the future of location technologies and markets, guiding the development of new applications and shaping the way to meet the challenge of making location enabled services ubiquitous.
|2009 3GSMA Mobile World Congress|
|Date:||February 16 - 19, 2009|
Welcome to the The 3GSMA Mobile World Congress is the world’s leading mobile communications conference, Fira and exhibition. Held annually since 1994, the event has attracted over 70,000 visitors from 175 countries, more than 1500 exhibitors and 2000 media and press representatives.
|2009 Indiana GIS Conference|
|Date:||February 17 - 18, 2009|
|Place:||Bloomingtown Monroe County Convention Center
Downtown Bloomingtown, IN USA
Have you been working hard all year on a really great project? Have you found a technical solution to a difficult question? Have you learned something from your community of users? Come share your experience at the Indiana 2009 Annual GIS Conference!!!
|2009 ESRI Federal User Conference (FedUC)|
|Date:||February 18 - 20, 2009|
|Place:||Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Take the geographic approach. The FedUC is the ultimate resource when it comes to using geospatial technology in government. The conference offers presentations from technical and industry experts, valuable insight from your colleagues, and the latest solutions that fit your agency. Professionals across organizations are invited to discover effective and efficient ways to meet goals, overcome challenges, and address issues.
|2009 North Carolina GIS Conference|
|Date:||February 19 - 20, 2009|
|Place:||Raleigh Convention Center
Raleigh, NC USA
The 2009 NC GIS Conference will be at the Raleigh Convention Center in downtown Raleigh, NC on Thursday, February 19 and Friday, February 20. The theme, Capitalizing on Spatial Data, is a perfect fit for bringing the practitioners and users of GIS data together at this Eleventh biennial conference.
|IMTA (EAME) Conference & Trade Show 2009|
|Date:||February 20 - 21, 2009|
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
The International Map Trade Association (IMTA) represents the commercial interests of the global mapping and spatial information industry.
|2009 Petroleum User Group (PUG) Conference|
|Date:||February 23 - 25, 2009|
|Place:||Houston Marriott Westchase
Houston, TX USA
From senior executives to GIS professionals, you will take away from the PUG Conference ideas and tools you can put to work immediately. See how to widen the scope of your GIS investment and invite your colleagues who work in IT and HSSE to learn how they can use GIS.
|2nd Annual Florida Region of ASPRS Geospatial Symposium|
|Date:||February 25, 2009|
|Place:||Best Western Gateway Grand
Gainesville, FL USA
The Florida Region of ASPRS will be hosting the 2nd Annual Florida ASPRS Geospatial Symposium Feb 25th 2009. We are also hosting an ASPRS Certification Preparation Course taught by Bob Burtch the day before, for anyone interested in pursuing their Certified Photogrammetrist (CP), or Certified Mapping Scientist (CMS) certifications (or their respective Technologist Certifications).
|Maptitude Mapping Software Training|
|Date:||February 25 - 27, 2009|
|Place:||Tampa, FL USA|
Caliper Corporation, a worldwide leader in GIS, transportation and mapping software, invites you to express interest in Maptitude training classes. Please contact Caliper as soon as possible to express interest in these training dates.