It All Started with Forestry
While working for a company specializing in geospatial imagery, Don and Dale experienced the challenge of data interoperability first-hand. Exchanging data and maps while working on a project for the provincial government to help with forestry projects was not easy. Since different organizations use different systems that use different data schemas, information was often lost when shared. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Data systems just weren’t developed to handle these challenges.
But, that didn’t mean they never would.
Together, Don and Dale created a solution. After hours of phone calls and time spent in those ‘90s-style spare bedrooms, Safe Software and the idea of what would become FME began. Safe and FME wouldn’t just help the forestry industry with spatial data -- it would later become a key tool used by anyone using any kind of data.
Why “Safe Software”?
Questions about the name Safe Software are common along with “How did you get the safe.com domain?”, “Do you make security systems for banks?”, and “What happened to your hair?”
Before FME there was SAIF, also known as Spatial Archive and Interchange Format. SAIF made it easy to bring data together in a consistent way and have it be accessible to others who weren't using the same forestry-specific systems. It was the key that unlocked the ability to share and the opportunity to collaborate. Since “SAIF” is pronounced “safe”, Don and Dale chose “Safe Software” as their company name as a playful homage to the early days.
Since this was during the early days of the internet, applying for and receiving the safe.com domain was pretty easy. They purchased the domain for a whopping $50.
So… Why “FME”?
As development continued, something more than SAIF was built: a software system that would read in data, transform its features, and write it out into something new. This software was given the name FME, a.k.a. Feature Manipulation Engine.
A History of Safe Software
From Going Bananas to Going on Tour
Over the years, Safe and FME have seen many changes.
As software, FME has become more advanced every year with increased data support, the introduction of support for APIs, and new automation capabilities. FME has gone from integrating a few spatial formats used mainly by GIS professionals to enterprise integration for multiple teams throughout an organization. There’s been a whirlwind of advancements.
As a company, Safe Software has also changed some of the ways we do things. Since FME is the result of passion and hard work, it’s important for us to actually work with and talk to FME users. Things like live chat and our community are one thing, but our favourite way to interact? Face to face. Or, in this new age, screen-to-screen. So, we organize events for everyone around the world where users can get together, chat, and talk to the team behind FME. After all, what use is it making a product for others if we don’t take the time to learn about who they are?
Where We Are and Where We’re Going
Here we are, 25+ years later, and Safe Software and FME are doing better than ever. We’ve been helping more and more people around the world with their data, and have grown our team to include many bright minds with various backgrounds. We believe that with more diversity and inclusivity, we will be able to grow more as individuals and as a company allowing us to lend a hand to as many people as possible.
As a team backed by two pragmatic and ambitious founders, Safe has been able to thrive, adapt, and succeed in the tech industry. And, we’ve been able to have a lot of fun along the way.
So, what does the future hold?
It’s hard to say. But, we have no doubt that the team at Safe will continue to work to create innovative solutions, engage with more customers and partners around the world, and strive to give back to our community when we can.
As Dale has been known to say, “Do good when you’re doing good”. So, alongside our endeavours in the tech world, we choose to participate in events that teach youth about STEAM, support those who are less fortunate, and encourage individual Safers to do the same.