350+ data experts from around the world gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre today to celebrate data. Day 1 of the FME International User Conference 2014 was full of zombie apocalypses, “learnings”, impromptu live cellphone demos, popcorn, and other fun of all kinds.

Don and Dale Opening Keynote

Dale and Don opened the conference with the promise of a conference full of learning , 70+ user presentations, and the opportunity to network with other FME users and 100+ Safe staff. The FME Doctors and the rest of the Safe staff are here throughout the conference to listen, answer, and as Don and Dale said, “We want to understand what you do and take that information to make a better product.”

They went through a fun timeline of the last 20 years of Safe Software—all the way back to the first office headquarters at Dale’s house in Surrey, BC.

“If we look back,” said Dale, “we can inform the future.”

They discussed how, where, and why they started Safe Software—the data problem, and the S.A.I.F solution.

“We were convinced that S.A.I.F was going to change the world,” said Don. “We saw a problem and were amazed that nobody had tackled this problem in a serious way.”

During the opening keynote, three customers were specially recognized with a complete collection of every spork Safe has ever made.

FME Customer Zero, Mark Sondheim, Acknowledged at the FME UC

The Customer Zero award (FME’s very first customer) went to Mark Sondheim.

Peter Laulund receives the FME Pioneer Award

The FME Pioneer Award went to Peter Laulund.

The 2013 Partner of the Year went to con terra GmbH.

The 2013 Partner of the Year went to con terra GmbH.

They also recognized the Safe team in this whimsical “Meet the Safers” video.

Don and Dale closed their opening talk with the message of celebrating users, people, partners, and the future of data.

Esri Keynote

Esri Keynote from Ismael Chivite

Esri Keynote from Ismael Chivite


Ismael Chivite, Senior ArcGIS Product Manager from Esri, kicked off the guest keynotes with a few live demonstrations of ArcGIS. He showed how easy it is to share GIS and maps with anyone and everyone—not just GIS professionals—whether the medium is a tablet, browser, or mobile device.

He got us excited about the present and future of mapping, and how easy it’s becoming to collaborate on projects of all sizes.

Boundless Keynote

Paul Ramsey: "Do your learnings. Many learnings."

Paul Ramsey: “Do your learnings. Many learnings.”

Paul Ramsey took the stage in an inspiring talk about “doing your learnings”. He proposed that Open Source provides opportunities to learn and expand your horizons, and showed how FME uses Open Source libraries to avoid reinventing wheels. He looked back to the beginnings of PostGIS and discussed potential for the future of open source.

“Expert users can be trapped by their own expertise,” he said. “They get blocked by their own learnings.”

He discussed how our tools define our horizons, and challenged us to always keep learning. We must think of data as a liquid, free to move around.

Paul challenged, “Learn SQL, Python, web services, cartography … learn something new, something hard, something uncomfortable.”

FME Whirlwind Tour 2014

We then took a whirlwind trip through some of the best FME user stories from the FME World Tour 2014.

Safer Aaron Koning talked about “the power of one” in a few Georgia Power geolocation use cases. Sometimes it just takes one transformer, one step, one workspace … or when it comes to SDF to SDE translations, one letter. He finished with this tip for learning FME: “Learn that one thing to achieve the business goal.”

Iris' Talisman example at the FME UC 2014

Iris Gutowski showed off how Talisman Energy leverages the power of Startup and Shutdown Python Scripts in FME Workbench.

David Eagle from 1Spatial discussed how FME helps automate data migration tasks, from controlling inputs through to validation and transformation. He concluded in saying “FME is helping Barnsley to deploy its slim resources efficiently.”

Ken Bragg talked about how Smart Cities need Smart Data. He gave an overview of how Lyon, France, uses FME. When it comes to Smart Data platforms, he defined a few strict requirements for real-time data—including not exceeding 10 seconds of processing time, and constant availability.

Dean Hintz discussed integrating data sources for flight planning, generating results that are easy to interact with.

Finally, Mark Stoakes discussed one FME newbie’s experience in a data conversion project from GIS to the Esri Local Government model. “She had the realization that data migration is more difficult than you think,” he said. “It’s always more work than you think in lining up data models with different systems.” Fortunately, she had FME to help. Mark reminded us that FME’s support team is always standing by to make these projects easier!

Pushing Boundaries with FME

The afternoon was full of great demos showing off what amazing things can be done with FME.

We saw a zombie apocalypse scenario, where Michael Fitzpatrick set out to prove that FME Cloud can help us survive a zombie apocalypse. He figured if he can do that, he has a pretty good argument for purchasing an instance.

Don stood in for Stewart, who couldn’t be here to present on account of becoming a father today. Don gave a great presentation on automating calls and SMS with Twilio, which resulted in a live call to Don’s cellphone with a flood warning. In an inpromptu demo, he then used FME to SMS Mark Stoakes, who came into the hall for a quick demo with a foam ball stuffed with a cell phone. The demo showed off live tracking of the acceleration of the ball as it was thrown around the room.

And, of course, we can’t neglect to mention his hilarious improvised presentation about measuring mysterious “heavy breathing”.

Ken Bragg discussed a Spanish use case for automatically updating geographical git repositories. For another FME use case from La Rioja, check out this blog post.

Ulf Mansson showed off some cool FME-Minecraft integration. He started by naming a few people in the room as FME transformers, noting that there were around 350 people in the room—close to the same number of transformers in FME.

Wrap-up, FME Doctors, and Fun

The day closed with a fun, interactive quiz, run using FME Server’s email protocol. The FME Doctors also gave their report, discussing some of the more interesting questions and scenarios of the day.

FME Doctor offering his diagnosis

FME Doctor offering his diagnosis

See you all tomorrow for Day 2!

About FME FME International User Conference FME User Conference

Tiana Warner

Tiana is a product marketing manager at Safe Software. Her background in computer programming and creative hobbies led her to be one of the main producers of creative content for Safe Software. Tiana spends her free time writing fantasy novels and riding her horse, Bailey.


3 Responses to “FME UC 2014: Day 1 Recap”

  1. Bob Williamson says:

    Don’s observation, “Stewart is missing his one chance to make this presentation, but he’ll probably have other children,” was particularly insightful (and touching).

  2. Tiana Warner says:

    Yes! Thanks for the reminder about that funny comment. Never a dull minute at the FME UC.

  3. […] more, check out the Safe blog for recaps from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 as well as closing thoughts from both co-founders: Don Murray and Dale […]

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