FME User Conference – day 0

Well, it’s technically not the first day of the conference, that doesn’t start until tomorrow, but I participated in some of the technical sessions today and already saw some interesting things. This is all based on what we’ve seen in the FME 2010 beta build used at the conference:

  • PDF writing is apparently improved quite a bit. This is good news for me because I occasionally get questions along the lines of “can you do 5000 maps with driving directions?” (yes, an actual question…) and FME is a perfect tool for doing the processing. If the output can be made to look fairly decent, this would be a very serious option.
  • There is a replacement for the FME Viewer on the way. Still in a very early stage, but it’s looking pretty good. This new tool, the DataInspector, will do 3D as well.
  • I’ve noticed a couple of new transformers that seem to indicate that network analisys is an upcoming frontier for FME.
  • Many 3D formats can now also be read (OBJ, 3DS, Sketchup) and have support for textures. Getting a textured model from Sketchup into 3D PDF is a breeze now.
  • Dynamic reading/writing is another big thing. I haven’t had much change to use this in real-world scenarios yet, apart from using a Generic Writer once, but based on what I’ve seen this could be a very useful thing in environments where a data model may slightly change over time. Also, clever use of a SchemaMapper can save a lot of repetitive use of AttributeCreators, AttributeSetters and AttributeCopiers.

Aside from all that, it’s nice to meet other FME users and see what they’re up to. The atmosphere at the FME events is always very relaxed.

Not immediately conference-related, but worth a mention, is the fact that over the past years I’ve not used FME to mosaick large amounts of raster data, based on some bad experiences way back with FME 2006, preferring Global Mapper instead. Dale Lutz recently told me that I really ought to give FME another chance, so when I get back from this trip I’ll see if I can set up some benchmarking tests to figure this out once and for all.

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