January 25, 2010
Safe Software Introduces FME 2010
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Safe Software Introduces FME 2010

By Susan Smith

“The problem with data is there is more of it coming from more sources. Organizations have to do more with it to make their whole organization run more efficiently.”

So say Don Murray, president and founder, and Dale Lutz, vice president and co-founder of Safe Software, the creators of FME, their spatial ETL solution.

This need to manage data is behind Safe Software’s FME 2010 release. FME Desktop is now in its 20th release with FME 2010. To the founders, this release feels more significant to users, because by now the company has assembled a very efficient and large development team well versed in the complexities of the FME ETL product.


Productivity Enhancements

The new release features some productivity enhancements, the most important one being the
Insert or
Add, which cuts down the number of mouse clicks. “FME has this offering environment called FME Workbench where we build data flows that specify how the data being transformed is to be done, and it involves laying down a number of these transformers that we have, these little GUI widgets. In the past that process has probably taken three or four clicks, now it’s a quick add if you know what it is, you just start typing and you automatically get a list and you can pick one,” said Lutz. “There are no mouse clicks there at all. The next thing is, once you’ve placed one down you immediately go into the properties to set it, so in the past you would
go and do another click. Now you just click “enter” and you can eventually build a whole stream of these.”


The second big enhancement is performance. Each release of FME has gotten faster than the previous one. Lutz said that version 2010 on a modern CPU is more than 20 percent faster. On an older PC, it’s still about 5 percent faster.

The Safe team also look at ways to use memory more efficiently. With comparing raster speed between 2010 and 2009 versions, there is 5 percent greater speed using half the memory, which means you can process larger datasets more effectively using less system resources.

Multi-core computer users are getting the most speed, said Lutz. Although 64-bit capability was introduced in FME 2009, Murray and Lutz agreed that it’s still only the early adopters who are using 64-bit. 64-bit is included in the CD in the 2010 release. For those who want to get the most value out of 64-bit, they recommend users should have a computer with 8 Gig of RAM or more.

“We have also tested our 32-bit FME on Windows to make sure that it works just as well in a 64-bit environment as in a 32 bit environment,” said Murray. “There is a significant speed up by using the 32-bit Windows FME on a 64 bit Windows box, simply because then the application itself gets an entire 4 Gig, so if you have a large job and you have a 64-bit box, there is nothing wrong with running the 32-bit FME on the 64-bit machine.”

Murray and Lutz believe that 2010 is the year 64-bit becomes mainstream, “at least in the scientific computing world.”


Although adding a lot of formats was not the focus of the 2010 release, there are still 25 more formats added to the release. Today FME 2010 supports over 250 formats, wherein at FME’s inception it supported just 25.

Many clients asked to be able to read Civil 3D. As the engineering world is being required to share more data with the GIS world, there is more demand for a flow from civil into GIS products like ArcGIS and MapInfo. That capability is in FME 2010. Also support has been added for OpenGIS KML (Google Earth and Maps, Adobe PDF and XML (including OpenGIS GML and CityGML).

In addition, FME 2010 includes statistics formats. Safe is working with a firm called Circle Systems that makes an FME “lite” product for statistics, which allows Safe to add statistics formats for FME to fuse statistical analysis with geospatial intelligence. Those formats include: IBM PASW (SPSS), R Statistical Data and SAS (Statistical Analysis System).

GIS community members who had a need to do statistical analysis and system integrators were the driving force behind that statistical feature.


In FME 2009 cloud computing was introduced, but in 2010 there is more: WeoGeo works on FME Server in the Cloud. Safe is also working with FME Desktop in the Cloud. Soon, Murray reports, users will be able to use the FME Desktop in the Cloud in a pay-as-you-go fashion. Because it will be a “Windows instant” they will be able to use it for whatever they want.

Users whose usage spikes at certain times can meet this extra demand without having to host servers in house and just pay for usage.


The biggest feature of FME 2010 is expanded 3D support. Lutz said that the performance of their 3D is now ten times greater in 2010. The textures and pictures on the sides of the 3D objects in FME 2009 are now both preserved and created in 2010. For the city of Gavle, Sweden, Safe took some raw 2D data, pictures, orthophotos and building heights to offer a simulated 3D city model in an automated way “that lets them create it in a matter of minutes as opposed to days. They could take that and refine it in another tool such as ArcGIS 10 which is going to have full 3D editing and then they’ll have a fast way to achieve full 3D. We think a lot of cities are going to be very
interested in doing this kind of thing,” said Lutz.

Included in the release is added support for many 3D formats, such SketchUp, Collada, KML and Google Earth and OpenFlight for the visual simulation users. The visual simulation universe is now interested in FME, according to Murray, as the technology allows them to build a simulation-ready environment very quickly with drawings, orthophotos, imagery and building heights and DEMs so that you can place things at right elevations.


FME Server is in its third release and has addressed what the founders say was its most glaring shortcoming: the lack of security. “In the past FME Server was built for a trusting environment so it was great within an organization,” explained Lutz. “but we did have users who used it to publish on the web, but in that environment they were responsible for building the entire security mechanism themselves which you don’t want every user to have to do. With FME Server 2010, we now have security built in, so now organizations are able to control when they publish out a web service on the web, what users have access to, what users are able
to publish, workspaces, adding new services or new scripts to the web service and also who is able to administer. Also if organizations have their own security mechanism, we’ve made it very easy for them to tie FME Server right into their own custom security.”

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