I just returned a short time ago from the ESRI Federal User Conference, esrifeduc2010which as always was a great conference (Stu Rich and James Fee have some good recaps). Reflecting on the conference it is clear that the times they are a changing and the future is exciting. There was a lot of buzz around deploying solutions or services into the cloud. ESRI demonstrated its ArcGIS 10 capabilities and the seamless integration between the desktop and the the web – ArcGIS 10 is cloud ready and is indeed a very ambitious and exciting release. As any developer knows the best way to get started with a task are examples and for ArcGIS 10 ESRI is working to deliver a lot of examples/templates to help users get started. Crowdsourcing, or Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI) as ESRI called it, was also a hot topic at the show. ESRI demonstrated how its tools are making it easy for every citizen to be a sensor.

John Calkins opened his session with the statement “Who cares about the new stuff?” He made the point that with ArcGIS 10 users will find the interface easier to use, users will be able to do tasks faster and hence be more productive. At the end of the day that is the most important thing to users. Indeed, everyone cares about performance, ease of use, and productivity. As usual John hits the nail on the head. Kudos also to the District of North Vancouver as its website was highlighted for its user interface during the plenary.

At the conference we talked with many organizations and one theme that came up again and again was building services on or integrating data from disparate datasets.

Whether at the State level; where they are working to combine data from counties, or at the National level; where they are working to combine data from states – the challenge is the same. In order to create these statewide or nationwide services or a Common Operating Picture, you must first address both data integration issues. Whether you are combining all the contributors data into a single data repository, as has been done by the State of Indiana, or are simply creating a common federated view across a set of distributed servers – the problem is the same. In order to solve the data integration issue, you must resolve both “data integration” and “data model integration” issues to effectively combine data from multiple sources.

What is the difference between “Data Model Integration” and “Data Integration”?

For effective construction of services that span multiple data jurisdictions both “data model integration” and “data integration” must be addressed. As we work to take FME forward we are constantly looking at both of these challenges in an effort to solve all integration headaches.

After all, It’s All About the Data er…Data Model!

About Data Data Transformation Esri FME Desktop Spatial Data

Don Murray

Don is the co-founder and President of Safe Software. Safe Software was founded originally doing work for the BC Government on a project sharing spatial data with the forestry industry. During that project Don and other co-founder, Dale Lutz, realized the need for a data integration platform like FME. When Don’s not raving about how much he loves XML, you can find Don working with the team at Safe to take the FME product to the next level. You will also find him on the road talking with customers and partners to learn more about what new FME features they’d like to see.


8 Responses to “Reflecting on the ESRI Fed UC – Is It JUST About the Data?”

  1. Great review as usual, Don, but I must ask: what about the metadata? You know it’s a pet peeve of mine, the difficulty in getting users to fully document their data &/or data models. Or perhaps I’m missing something, and FME consumes metadata in order to fulfill your purpose? Been a while since I used FME @ AGIP.

  2. Don Murray says:


    Great point! Metadata is indeed important and must be part of any data repository. I didn’t make the point in this post, but should have stated that the first thing that needs to be done is to verify that the data sources are in fact of sufficient recency and quality to meet the needs. FME can read the metadata and a user could in fact verify through the metadata that the data being used does meet the requirements of the task. Right now this is all in the early days and we are seeing metadata being created and extracted but it is being primarily viewed by users rather than software. Pulling different datasets together with no regard for the metadata is not a good idea. We do have some examples of FME using metadata to do things based on the metadata. As you suggested, one of the problems is getting users in the habit of creating the metadata. I am confident that this will change as more and more data is used across organizations.

  3. OK, can you point me to “some examples of FME using metadata to do things based on the metadata”? I guess I better get an eval download and revisit this! Can I get an extension like I did previously? Watch my blog for a post on this soon…

  4. Don Murray says:


    I would love to show you some examples. Here is a synopsis of one thing that we are doing:

    a) Installed a CSW such as con terra’s CSW or DeeGree or GeoNetwork.

    b) Created a workspace and published to server. This enables any dataset in a format that FME supports to be published to the server and populate the dataset’s metadata to the CSW.

    c) Created another workspace that enables a user to find all of the data in the catalogue for a bounding box and also get the bounding box of the dataset from the CSW. The entire CSW record is extracted so this query could easily be restricted to any information that is in the CSW.

    d) Wrote a workspace that makes it easy to publish a large number of datasets to this data server while also populating the CSW.

    e) Created a KML Network Link workspace so that a user can navigate using Google Earth (as an example) and dynamically see the bounding boxes of the dataset.

    f) User is then able to simply click on a dataset and can either download it in its original format or perform a more complex data extraction. Again this is also defined by a workspace.

    If you or anyone else wants to see a demo of this example then I encourage you to go to one of the events in North America or Europe (Dale blogged about these events last week). If you can’t make it, then I would be happy to show it to you then provide you with all of the demos, etc.

    Is this what you are looking for?

  5. Thx for the lesson, perfesser ;-] I’m sorry I cannot make it to Germany never mind America, I rely heavily on web resources s.a. blogs, where I follow both COTS and FOSS events. And I do my bit too, you’re featured again in my blog…

    What was Dale’s link (I think) to a show, which you’re posting geotagged tweets to until 31 March, using your FME engine to post on Gmap?

  6. Don Murray says:


    It would be great to see you in one of the Canadian cities if possible. We will be in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. If none are possible I would really like to connect via GoToMeeting after the Odyssey is over.

    Here are two links that explain the NSGIC Twitter activity demo that is being used.

    Here is the page that shows to the page for NSGIC-Twitter activity . This is a fun one that uses the ability of FME to pull data from web services. In this case we are searching Twitter and then plotting the location of where the tweets are made if geo-tagging is enabled. If geo-tagging is not enabled we plot that location.

    Here is also a link to the PowerPoint deck from Learon Dalby that briefly explains what is going on.

    I am now going to read your blog.

  7. Thanks for the links, I’m sure you know I’m in Cambridge UK [my wife and I, Calgarians for 15 and 20 yrs., plan to take our daughter 12 there to visit, preferably on the Rocky Mountaneer to Lotusland, but first I have to get oilelefant going…] In the meantime, give me the parameters of GoToMeeting so we can talk when you’re free. Say hi to Dale for me, I’m not sure I remember Michael or Paul.

  8. Don Murray says:


    That is right! I keep thinking of you as a Calgarian. It turns out that there is also going to be an FME user meeting in the UK too and I will be there. This one in Southampton on April 29th. I know that is out of the way for you but if you were there it would be great. I will also definitely send you a link for a GoToMeeting when I return into the office in April.

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