Time Saving Tips with FME Part 2

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Author: Ciara Beddy, IMGS Senior GIS Engineer


Welcome to part two of Time Saving Tips in FME!

Using FME daily means you pick up on tips and tricks to make your daily tasks run quickly, smoothly and generally just make your FME life a bit easier. This blog is a follow up to last month’s time savings tips part 1.

Tips for Inspecting data

Inspecting your data is a key part of any workspace you develop, with every change you make its good practice to check your output. So it stands to reason FME has a number of tools available to you, all you need to do is use them.

Run with Full Inspection

Do you ever run your workspace, wait for it to finish only to find it’s taken a wrong turn somewhere? Now you need to find out where things went amiss, run with full inspection is the solution for you. This setting will cache the data at each transformer link. Each cache can then be shown in the Data inspector by right clicking on the count.

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This feature is great for debugging, no need to keep adding inspectors to source the issue, but don’t forget to turn off this functionality when you are done as it slows down performance and takes longer to run than a normal translation.

Redirect to Inspection Application

12When you are still in a testing phase then use “Redirect to Inspection Application”. This means you don’t alter your destination dataset and your output goes directly to the Inspector. You can run your process as many times as you want until you get it just right, the data is never written until you turn off this option. Especially important when you are making edit within a database and you only have one chance to get it right.

One Click Insect

Your readers and writers now allow you to inspect your data with ease, right click on any Reader/Writer to use the inspection button or open containing folder. No excuses for not examining your output it’s easy!

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Terminator Redirect

The terminator transformer stops a translation when it detects non-valid situations or input data conditions that should not exist.

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Image Courtesy of www.shocktillyoudrop.com

This is to stop the output of data which may impact your results, for example you could filter the data’s geometry and terminate if you find points in a dataset you expected to be linear. When a feature enters this transformer, the translation immediately stops and an error message displays to notify you that the data conditions are not expected.

To redirect the Terminator data to an Inspector instead of stopping the translation, you can set this option in the Workspace Properties in the Navigator. This allows you to view the unexpected data during development of your workspace and then you can switch off and reverts back to terminating the translation when expected conditions are met.

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Background maps

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Once you are inspecting the data its quite useful to compare to a background map, don’t forget the Data Inspector now provides this functionality under Tools>Options>background maps.

You have a number of options ranging from open source mapping like open street map to the ability to connect to your own AGOL Map Service or Web Map Service. But remember your data will be reprojected to display in the coordinate system of the background map. So don’t get confused like I do….everytime! The actual coordinate system is always specified within the feature information.

Connecting Data

Sometimes you can add a file with many layers like a .dgn or Geodatabase. Nothing gives you a bigger headache than having to reconnect all those layers to your writers, particularly when they are located the far side of the canvas. The Feature Type Connections window, found under View > Windows allows you to connect readers to writers with ease. I don’t use it often but when the need occurs it’s a great time saver.

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Data Testing

The most popular transformer the Tester is much more than what it seems. You should have noticed by now it has received an update in the last few releases. If not, then pay attention as this can be a huge time saver when performing data quality checks. There are now Operators to filter data on such as Attribute is Null or Empty. New to 2016 is the operator “Attribute has a value”. This means that without knowing all the possibilities of how the attribute could not have a value we only need to check if it contains a value in order to extract all those missing records.

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FME Options

Finally don’t forget you always have options! It’s important to customize your workspaces to your own needs so take 2 minutes to check out your options under the Tools Menu > FME Options. Here you can create a toolbar to your own specifications.

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As well as control how your workbench functions, default paths, database connections and how your translation is run. There are plenty of choices here so they are worth reviewing.

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Thanks for reading! Keep an eye here for next month’s blog.

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