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#FMEUC17 and Shapefile’s Silver Jubilee

Selina Sandoval

This year, Safe Software held its first worldwide user meeting in three years at the beautiful Vancouver, BC Convention Centre.  We love the people at Safe - authors of the “Feature Manipulation Engine” or FME that transforms data and coordinates from one format to another.  WhiteStar uses this technology intensively to prepare data formatted for a wide variety of customer applications. 

You would think after twenty years, data transformation problems would all be solved.  To the contrary, the number and variety of data formats just continues to explode.  Indeed, we use Safe’s FME Server technology inside of WhiteStar Cloud, where customers can come to a website and “clip, zip and ship” the data they need in their desired format.   

Col, Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station,  gave the keynote talk at the conference about managing complexity and change. “If you want things to stay the same, something is going to have to change!”  set the tone for the UC.  We can’t continue to do things the old way.  In WhiteStar’s world, we need to stream data rather than deliver GIS data using old methods such as ftp and shapefiles.   
 
Hadfield mentioned that the May 6th, 2017 cover story of The Economist rightly cites data as the world’s most valuable resource.  As a data company, we have known that for a very long time, and spend time and effort trying to convince our prospects of this.  Still too many are seduced and spend their entire budget on software. 

Amusingly,  the conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of shapefiles.  Even more amazing (horrifying?) is that shapefiles use the old 1980s vintage dBase III DBF format to store data. Perhaps next year @dbffiles could celebrate their 35th birthday.  On Twitter, you can follow the very active and humorous @shapefiIe account so as not to miss any developments!

WhiteStar Geodata Analyst Pete Vaziri and I gave a well attended talk on the large task of compiling and continually updating parcel data for the more than 3142 counties and county-equivalents in the USA.  WhiteStar has a research staff who contact each county and update the data on a regular basis.  Data must then be converted to a common format (using FME of course), normalized to a standard schema, converted to a common coordinate system, and then loaded into GIS databases where it can then be streamed to customers or available on WhiteStar Cloud.  

FME Colorado User Group
Are you an FME-er in the Denver area? We are looking for a speaker for the next meeting of the Colorado FME User Group.  Please contact me if you would exchange a beer for a 25 minute presentation on some topic of interest to the FME User community.