FME, developed by Safe Software from Vancouver, Canada, stands for Feature Manipulation Engine. FME is an integrated collection of Spatial ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) tools for spatial data transformation and translation. Supporting all popular GIS formats (full list here) and capable of performing almost all kinds of GIS transformations, it is an invaluable tool for any GIS professional and any organisation involved in handling spatial data.

The power of FME lies in its transformer-based processing of data. The FME Workbench has a collection of so-called transformers (full list here) that each perform a certain action on the data that passes through. By connecting the transformers to eachother, you can quickly set up more complex processes. The processes you have set up (‘Workbenches’) can be reused every time you need to perform the same operation.

FME offers a visual approach to the transformation process through the FME Workbench, which acts very much like a flowchart. This makes it very easy to set up complex processes within a short amount of time, by dragging and dropping both transformers and links.

This approach, together with the FME Viewer as a data-inspection tool makes FME very useful for performing GIS tasks that are either not possible in off-the-shelf applications or take a lot of time. Supported tasks include 3D and raster processing, attribute processing, geometry correction and many more.

So far, FME has proven itself to be capable of a very wide range of tasks, from GIS overlays to cleaning up a text index (FME is also perfectly capable of performing operations on non-spatial databases). Due to an ever increasing number of transformers, as well as improvements to existing transformers, the functionality is expected to keep on growing.

More information on FME can be found in the FMEPedia, an on-line, wiki-style, encyclopedia on FME, maintained by Safe and FME users worldwide.

If you want to try out FME before purchasing it, you can try the demo version. This is a 14-day evaluation license that allows you to try all aspects of FME. During the evaluation period, you can contact Red Geographics if you have any questions. Red Geographics also offers training courses and FME consultancy services.

Hans van der Maarel of Red Geographics is a FME Certified Professional as well as a FME Certified Trainer. This proves the ability to provide FME support, consulting services and training which meet the high level of standards set by Safe Software.

FME is available in a number of editions, which differ in capabilities (support for formats and transformers). Aside from that there are various license options. All prices include the first year of maintenance. Please contact Red Geographics to find out which edition best suits your needs .

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