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6 little projects with FME

FME 2016 is here and there are definitely features that I am excited about (FeatureWriter for one!). But that is a subject for another post. During the month of December, while reflecting on last year’s projects, I realized we often tend to talk about the larger, more involved projects we accomplished. Those projects are always very exciting to talk about and often integrate multiple systems and technologies, taking months or years to complete. But often with FME, we do many small projects, and the sum of these builds into interesting results, often very quickly.

One of our clients, The Port of Montreal, experienced this in the past few months. FME was implemented several years ago and used for certain projects, but had not really evolved beyond this. This year, we upgraded their FME Server and Desktop to 2015. In just a couple of months, we assisted them in implementing all kinds of small but important solutions using FME. Some are one-time use cases; others are workspaces to run on FME Server every day. The following is a short list showing some of the problems we threw at FME in a short time.

Web Service Validation

Notification and Web Services: The Port of Montreal accesses certain Web Feeds in connection to their map data and control room. In this case the client wanted to validate that a certain feed was always available, by running the check status call every half hour. We created a simple FME Server workspace that makes the check status call and then sends notification emails if the service is down. This solution was implemented in just a few hours. What was fun about this case was that we have evolved it several times. Now the tool also fills out an excel spreadsheet allowing the client to calculate how long the service was down. As the tool got used (and some service-down incidents actually occurred) we were very quickly able to modify the workflow.

Real Estate Management Data

Periodic Conversion: The Port of Montreal doesn’t only maintain a dock; they lease space and manage property as well. FME was used to process Cadastre data and load it into an SQL Server database. It allows for the processing of update data that is delivered periodically in order to keep the map up-to-date. This is a step in a broader effort to upgrade the spatial component of their property management system.


Analy3D Container Modelling

Analysis Tool: In this case FME was used to calculate and build 3D blocks in order to simulate container layouts. The script takes vectors from an SQL Server database representing the area to place the containers and lays out the maximum potential layout.


Implementation of a document management system

Migration: In their migration to Sharepoint, The Port of Montreal had many html pages containing URLs. They needed to extract these URLs to an excel sheet. This was accomplished with FME using the xml tools to pull all the URLS and their titles into an Excel spreadsheet.

Creating a cartographic product using Caris Bathymetry data

Cartographic Product: Here we took an image of bathymetry data and created set of labels showing the shoal values across the image. This required pulling the minimum shoal value from the set of pixels in each grid square that the image was split into, and then create a text label with it. We actually used FME Point Cloud tools in this solution.

Create a KML with an image of bathymetry data

Quick Conversion: This was just a quicky conversion; create a kml using the image of bathymetry data so the participants analysing potential routes up the river (not experts in using GIS software) could easily look at the data.

All of these little projects used data, either spatial or non-spatial and needed to be implemented relatively quickly. Most of these solutions were implemented in a few minutes to a few hours in collaboration with the client over the phone. At the end of December, just before leaving for holidays, I reflected on all these small activities, I realized that we often forget how versatile the data and the work we do can be! I have to say they were all lots of fun. One day, in the middle of these different projects, the client called me on the phone to say that the evening before; he had some work to do after the kids went to sleep. He logged into his computer and ‘played’ FME.

What’s next on the horizon for The Port of Montreal for beginning 2016? Calculating KPI’s using more service feeds! Very fun stuff…….

Want to put FME to the test and little projects that have huge impact?

Contact an expert!

Lesley Mackenzie

Geomatics Consultant


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