FME - Data Modeling and Transformation

FME Desktop is an extremely powerful and flexible Toolbox for the professional and efficient translation and processing of spatial data. FME supports over 335 spatial and non-spatial data formats. In addition, it provides the user with an extensive functionality to process and manipulate that data during translation. For details on FME see the materials to the Workshop FME 2016 held at 25 years TYDAC.

Any edition of FME Desktop comes with three main components:

  • Workbench: Authoring tool for data translation processes
  • Data Inspector: Visualize and inspect data
  • QuickTranslator: 1:1 translation the quick way

You can download FME for evaluation purposes (here, users can find the newest, as well as older versions).


FME is a registered trademark of Safe Software. All other product names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

FME Workbench

FME Desktop's graphical authoring environment lets you specify data flows ("workspaces") to convert, transform, and integrate spatial data and its associated attribution. You can also use Workbench to design and deploy workspaces to FME Server.

FME Data Inspector

Tightly integrated with Workbench, the Data Inspector lets you quickly understand and inspect your spatial data throughout the transformation process, ensuring accurate data conversion every time.

FME - Editions

Discover the Edition that is right for you. FME Desktop is available in a variety of editions with flexible licensing options to meet your specific requirements. Each edition includes the core FME components, such as FME Workbench, FME Universal Viewer and FME Universal Translator. Editions differ based on the formats, transformers, and/or application integration you require.

  • FME Desktop - Professional Edition: Designed to support a variety of spatial translation requirements, this FME edition offers support for a wide range of formats (GIS, CAD, raster, 3D, BIM, database and web), as well as full database reading features. It also includes the complete set of FME transformers to give you the utmost flexibility in how you manipulate and restructure your datasets.
  • FME Desktop - ESRI Edition:  Built with tight integration in mind, this FME edition includes support for additional ESRI formats, such as ArcSDE, ArcSDE raster, Geodatabase (ArcSDE and XML) and ArcInfo Coverage. It also includes the ESRI Data Interoperability Extension so you can conveniently access the power of FME right from within a familiar ESRI ArcGIS interface.
  • FME Desktop - Database Edition: This edition adds support for writing to proprietary Spatial Databases: Oracle Spatial, MS SQL Server, MS Azure, Amazon, Teradata, JDBC; Netezza.
  • FME Server works hand-in-hand with FME Desktop. Design the workflow you want to automate in FME Desktop's drag-and-drop interface and then publish it to FME Server at the push of a button. Using FME Server you can schedule the workspace you created to automatically run at any time interval, turn it into a self-serve process for others to run whenever they want, or have your workspace always running in real-time.

Format and Transformers

FME supports by today wide over 335 spatial and non-spatial formats including CAD, GIS, Raster, Databases, Geo-Databases, 3D and BIM. In addition FME offers more then 475 transformers, which can be used during data translation.

  • Formats:
    • A small sample of supported formats used around here: AutoCAD DWF/DWG, Bentley Microstation Design File (DGN), ESRI Shape, MapInfo, GeoTIFF, ECW, INTERLIS 1 and 2, Geo-Datenbanken wie ESRI ArcSDE, DB2, Informix, MySQL, Oracle, PostGIS and SQL Server Spatial, SQLite etc.
    • Using FME you can read and write several formats - at once!
    • Important to know is as well, that FME not only reads attribute data, but as well format specific data such as colors, line types, data types and so on.
    • A compete list can be found here
  • The Transformers can be differentiated by the following categories:
    • 3D functionality
    • Calculators: area, perimeter, length etc.
    • Collectors: aggregation, sort, bounding box, convex hull ...
    • Databases: SQL queries
    • Filters: attributes, matching of geometry and/or attributes, spatial filters and neighborhoods ...
    • Geometric operations: overlays, topology analysis, polygon building, snapping ...
    • Infrastructure: generation of objects and attributes
    • Manipulators: buffers, arc creation, labeling, point in polygon, centroids
    • Raster: wide range of raster functionality
    • Strings: String manipulation including regex and tcl
    • Surfaces: Calculation of DEMs, contours, TINs etc
    • A complete list of transformers you'll find here

FME and Switzerland

This chapter is about Swiss specific issues & needs and FME:

  • INTERLIS 1 und 2 are supported and included in FME Desktop, Professional Edition, and above
  • All currently used Swiss Projections are supported: LV03 (EPSG 21781), LV95 (EPSG 2056), LV03C (EPSG 21782)
  • Transition of reference frames LV03 - LV95 (Details, German)using the FME ReframeReprojector made by swisstopo (included in FME Desktop, Professional Edition, and above):
    • Coordinate conversion from LV03 to LV95 and vice versa
    • Heights conversion between LN01, LHN95, and ellipsoidal heights (Bessel 1841)