Staff Profile of the Week – Lisa Nolan, Project Manager IMGS

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Can you describe your role at IMGS?

I am the Project Manager for the deployment of GIS systems to our utility customers.

 

How long have you worked here?

Since April 2018.

 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to spend as much time outdoors as possible with my family and our dogs exploring and then enjoying good food and wine after all the adventures.

 

If you were stranded on a desert island what piece of tech could you not live without?

Obvious answer but sadly true would be…. my iPhone so I could listen to music and hopefully call for help 😊

 

Do you have any hidden talents?

With my love of all things outdoors, I really enjoy taking part in adventure races and survived Hell and Back and completed the Achill Triathlon along with some other crazy mud filled races! I try to set myself a challenge every year to learn a new skill or complete a new adventure much to my family and friends amusement!

 

What do you enjoy most about working at IMGS?

The people and the working atmosphere for sure.  Everyone here is 100% customer focused to bring their best work daily to meet what their customers’ requirements are.

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Staff Profile of the Week – Mark Gordon, Business Development Manager IMGS

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Can you describe your role at IMGS?  

As the Business Development Manager for IMGS my role is primarily to enable our customers to gain competitive advantages through our big data and location intelligent solutions.

How long have you worked here?  

I’ve been involved with Intergraph/Hexagon channel for over 10 years in various incarnations; 5 years as a partner in Belfast, 2 years with Intergraph Ireland and then 3 years with IMGS back in the early 2000’s and I returned in April this year after a 13 year break.  I liked it so much, I came back!

What do you like to do outside of work?  

Lifting heavy stuff and putting it back down again, swimming in Dundalk Bay (I live on the coast) and spending quality time with my little lad.

If you were stranded on a desert island what piece of tech could you not live without?  

A magnesium fire starter, or waterproof matches.

Do you have any hidden talents?  

I’m a reasonable cook, my boy loves my pan fried salmon.

What do you enjoy most about working at IMGS?  

I love working with people smarter than me.

 

HxGN Live

Author: Ciaran Kirk, General Manager IMGS

Once again, the annual Hexagon conference “HxGN LIVE” took place in Las Vegas and the IMGS team attended to see the latest developments from the Hexagon family.

The conference is centred around the theme of Shaping Smart Change in 2018 and beyond, and this year (as ever) the conference didn’t disappoint with a range of exciting developments that will change the geospatial industry.

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A highlight of HxGN live for me, is attending the keynote presentations from each of the divisions.  At the keynotes, each division’s president outlines their vision for their industry and unveils some new toys as well!

At the Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure Keynote, Stephen Cost spoke on how Hexagon are powering Safe Cities through lightning fast sensor integration to make faster more informed decisions. Safety & Infrastructure are doing this by enhancing their command and control solutions to take advantage of Hexagon Xalt.

Xalt

Hexagon Xalt

Hexagon Xalt collects and analyses IoT and sensor data at the edge of a customer’s network – i.e. at the source of the input data – and puts it to work with artificial intelligence (AI) to create autonomous connected systems (ACE). For blue light organisations, this will enable those first responders to deliver smart procedures that can be deployed to better analyse, diagnose, and act on an incident and in the end save lives through faster more informed decisions.

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Building on the Smart theme Hexagon Geospatial’s Keynote from Mladen Stojic focused on Bridging the Divide to a Smart Digital Reality through an integrated 5D platform. We are all used to 1,2 and 3D but through the acquisition of Luciad, the Hexagon Smart M.App platform will support 4D (real-time sensor feed integration) and 5D (dynamic analytics) to provide true location intelligence.  The merger of Luciad and Hexagon Geospatial really is a game changer and remember I mentioned toys!

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Luciad

Well the 2018 Luciad release provides fantastic support for viewing point cloud data by enabling the streaming of highly detailed point cloud data to both the desktop and the browser. What also impressed me about the Luciad solution, was how it could easily update data without needing to run a big caching process!  We are so excited about what we can do with this fantastic platform, so watch this space over the coming months.

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And the final keynote I attended was from Juergen Dold of Hexagon’s Geosystem (or Leica to you and me).  Juergen’s keynote never disappoints when it comes to game changing new technologies (toys!) and this year was no different.

The highlight, from an array of great new products, was the Leica BLK3D. The BLK3D

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Leica BLK3D

captures images and places precise measurements at your fingertips and it’s the size of an iPhone!  Just by taking a photograph you can accurately measure anything and then easily share the images and measurements in multiple formats.

Following on from last year’s award winning BLK360, which put laser scanning in the palm of your hand, Geosystems continue their drive to making it easier and easier to capture the digital reality through portable measurement tools.

 

 

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So, we left Vegas with plenty of things to think about, and we are already looking forward to next year’s event!

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Registration for HxGN Live 2019 is already open, avail of the early bird rate now and join me in Vegas next year: Click to Register

FME 2018

Author: Garrett Cronin, Account Manager IMGS

I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Safe Software team in Vancouver last month. I was there for our annual partner summit plus the Kick off of the FME World Tour 2018. The partner summit was opened by Don & Dale, and they spoke about the exciting new innovations Safe Software are currently working on, and their plans to grow the Safe team over the coming year. I can’t give much away, but there are some very exciting functionality updates coming down the line. I also got a chance to view the new building, Safe Software are moving to later this year.

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Don & Dale have secured the top three floors plus a roof top garden space for the Safeer’s with 360-degree views of Surrey. It was an amazing four days in total and the FME World Tour event was the highlight of the trip.

The new version of FME Desktop & Server was heavily discussed over the course of the few days, and I’m happy to say the team at Safe Software have done it again! They have listened to all the global feedback, and FME Desktop & FME Server 2018 are packed with new and useful features to help you wrangle your data.

With the list of supported formats up to 400 with this latest release, I wanted to do a quick top 10 post on some of the new functionality ahead of our FME World Tour 2018 event in Dublin this May 17th.

I’ll leave links below to the full list of updates in FME Desktop & FME Server 2018 plus how to register for the FME World Tour event. If you’d like to upgrade to FME 2018, you can do so HERE.

 

  1. Top New Format Reader/Writers
  • Microsoft PowerPoint WriterWord Image
  • QlickviewimageMicrosoft Word Writer
  • PDF Reader (2D/Raster/Text)
  • Esri Geodatabase Mosaic Dataset Writer
  • Esri Indexed 3D Scene Layer Writer (i3S)
  • Apple Venue Format Reader & WriterPowerpointimage
  • Qlik Writer

 

  1. Top New Transformers
  • MSWordStyler
  • PowerPointStyler
  • AreaGapAndOverlapCleaner
  • Saleforceconnector
  • HDFSConnector (for moving files into and out of Hadoop)
  • FeatureJoiner
  • MeshSimplifier
  • ProjectWiseConnector
  • SurfaceDissolver

 

 

  1. PDF Reading

It has often been said, PDF is where data goes to die. Despite this, it is still a go-to format for most organisations. In FME 2018, a new PDF Reader means you can extract rasters, vector data, and text from PDF documents. In the below example, the image on the left is PDF data viewed in the FME Data Inspector. On the right PDF data viewed in Adobe Reader.

 

  1. Indoor Mapping

I’m very excited about the future of indoor mapping. Now organisations have the ability to create indoor maps for venues like shopping centres, campuses, airports and events. No longer will we be losing our friends at concerts or large events.

With FME 2018 you can move data into Apple Venue Format from applications like AutoCAD, Revit and Tririga. Below is an indoor map of YVR airport, viewed in the FME Data Inspector. If you are interested in indoor mapping and would like to learn more, Safe Software recently did a pod cast on indoor mapping you can listen to HERE.

 

 

  1. Generate Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint

I know this will be one of the most popular functions in FME 2018 for most users. The ability to push out data in a friendly styled format like Word or Excel, and enrich it geospatial data will be a huge wow factor for many people.

The new transformers let you style and output your data for Excel spreadsheets, Word pages, and PowerPoint slides. The example below is a map of Canada written to PowerPoint with FME. Each province is its own polygon with a label. The image to the left is a styled Excel sheet, I have also seen the below produced with geotagged images.

 

canadatext

 

 

  1. Create 3D Web Visualizations

It should come as no surprise that 3D is making a comeback. In fact, I was in a meeting recently and we were discussing 5D, due to Hexagon Geospatial’s recent acquisition of Luciad. Luciad’s visualisation technologies support live connections to dynamic sensor feeds in a 3D environment. The result is a 5D digital reality which allows the user to visualise and analyse real-time geospatial information. It is as amazing as it sounds, like it was from a Marvel movie! Regardless of the amount of D’s you have, these technologies benefit all kinds of applications from public safety to smart cities to defence and intelligence.

Empowering individuals or groups, with the ability to spatially understand an area of interest in all three dimensions, is very powerful. It allows for superior visual analysis and informed decision making. With this latest update, you can create 3D visualisations that anyone can view in a web browser, with new support for Esri I3S and glTF for Cesium. In the below example, you’ll see on the left every building in NYC loaded as Cesium 3D Tiles, and on the right with textures added, written to I3S and loaded in ArcGIS Earth via FME.


 

  1. Partial Workspace Runs (Tech Preview)

I see this as a very useful new feature, you’ll save so much time when authoring workflows with this new functionality that enables users to run selected parts using cached data. You can now get immediate feedback when authoring FME Workspaces by running only the portion of the workspace you’re focused on.

  1. FME Python API

With the success of the FME & Python training course last year, I wanted to call out this update – a documentation overhaul now makes the FME Python API much easier to navigate and learn from.


 

  1. Workspace Viewing in FME Server (Tech Preview)

You can now view your workspaces directly in the FME Server interface, I see this functionality growing over the coming years to make FME Server a standalone product for creating, editing and publishing workspaces.

 

  1. Dark Mode

I know this is only a cosmetic change, but I really like the look of FME Server in Dark Mode. In Safe Software the office has been divided into the “Light & Dark Side of FME”.

 

I have only scratched the surface of all the new features and functions of FME 2018. If you would like to see more information on the update you can click on the links below or better yet join us at the FME World Tour in May.

  • Unveiling FME 2018 Webinar – LINK
  • Deep Drive into FME Desktop 2018 Webinar – LINK
  • Deep Dive into FME Server 2018 Webinar – LINK
  • FME World Tour 2018 Registration Page – LINK

Time Saving Tips with FME Part 2

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Author: Ciara Beddy, IMGS Senior GIS Engineer


Welcome to part two of Time Saving Tips in FME!

Using FME daily means you pick up on tips and tricks to make your daily tasks run quickly, smoothly and generally just make your FME life a bit easier. This blog is a follow up to last months time saving tips part 1.

Tips for Inspecting data

Inspecting your data is a key part of any workspace you develop, with every change you make its good practice to check your output. So it stands to reason FME has a number of tools available to you, all you need to do is use them.

Run with Full Inspection

Do you ever run your workspace, wait for it to finish only to find it’s taken a wrong turn somewhere? Now you need to find out where things went amiss, run with full inspection is the solution for you. This setting will cache the data at each transformer link. Each cache can then be shown in the Data inspector by right clicking on the count.

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This feature is great for debugging, no need to keep adding inspectors to source the issue, but don’t forget to turn off this functionality when you are done as it slows down performance and takes longer to run than a normal translation.

Redirect to Inspection Application

12When you are still in a testing phase then use “Redirect to Inspection Application”. This means you don’t alter your destination dataset and your output goes directly to the Inspector. You can run your process as many times as you want until you get it just right, the data is never written until you turn off this option. Especially important when you are making edit within a database and you only have one chance to get it right.

One Click Insect

Your readers and writers now allow you to inspect your data with ease, right click on any Reader/Writer to use the inspection button or open containing folder. No excuses for not examining your output it’s easy!

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Terminator Redirect

The terminator transformer stops a translation when it detects non-valid situations or input data conditions that should not exist.

This is to stop the output of data which may impact your results, for example you could filter the data’s geometry and terminate if you find points in a dataset you expected to be linear. When a feature enters this transformer, the translation immediately stops and an error message displays to notify you that the data conditions are not expected.

 

To redirect the Terminator data to an Inspector instead of stopping the translation, you can set this option in the Workspace Properties in the Navigator. This allows you to view the unexpected data during development of your workspace and then you can switch off and reverts back to terminating the translation when expected conditions are met.

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Background maps

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Once you are inspecting the data its quite useful to compare to a background map, don’t forget the Data Inspector now provides this functionality under Tools>Options>background maps.

You have a number of options ranging from open source mapping like open street map to the ability to connect to your own AGOL Map Service or Web Map Service. But remember your data will be reprojected to display in the coordinate system of the background map. So don’t get confused like I do….everytime! The actual coordinate system is always specified within the feature information.

Connecting Data

Sometimes you can add a file with many layers like a .dgn or Geodatabase. Nothing gives you a bigger headache than having to reconnect all those layers to your writers, particularly when they are located the far side of the canvas. The Feature Type Connections window, found under View > Windows allows you to connect readers to writers with ease. I don’t use it often but when the need occurs it’s a great time saver.

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Data Testing

The most popular transformer the Tester is much more than what it seems. You should have noticed by now it has received an update in the last few releases. If not, then pay attention as this can be a huge time saver when performing data quality checks. There are now Operators to filter data on such as Attribute is Null or Empty. New to 2016 is the operator “Attribute has a value”. This means that without knowing all the possibilities of how the attribute could not have a value we only need to check if it contains a value in order to extract all those missing records.

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FME Options

Finally don’t forget you always have options! It’s important to customize your workspaces to your own needs so take 2 minutes to check out your options under the Tools Menu > FME Options. Here you can create a toolbar to your own specifications.

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As well as control how your workbench functions, default paths, database connections and how your translation is run. There are plenty of choices here so they are worth reviewing.

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Thanks for reading! Keep an eye here for next month’s blog.

 

Time Saving Tips with FME Part 1

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Author: Ciara Beddy, IMGS Senior GIS Engineer


 

Welcome to part one of Time Saving Tips in FME!

Using FME daily means you pick up on tips and tricks to make your daily tasks run quickly, smoothly and generally just make your FME life a bit easier. This blog has been a long time coming, for the last year I have diligently kept note of some of the tools I use in Desktop that save time and because it’s nice to share I am departing these tips to you.

FME Functions

Functions may seem complex as they allow you to delve into the heart of FME’s core and fly solo so to speak. Using them means you are now stepping out on your own and calling functions that are in use in many of the transformers and that seems a bit daunting.

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But this really is a smart move on your behalf, by using Feature Functions you can build processing directly into your attribute creation and save yourself the effort of placing multiple transformers. Really you can do A LOT with the text editor in FME, use it to build your queries and send them directly to the engine yourself instead of relying on transformers. When you use FME Functions as part of your attribute manager or attribute creator each resulting value is output as an attribute.

For example, @Area function calculates the area of a polygonal feature eliminating the need for the AreaCalculator. The @Count provides a mechanism for generating unique numbers for features during a translation eliminating the Counter. @Timestamp returns the current time and date, so you guessed it no need for a Timestamper.

Here are some of the common FME Functions I use in my workspaces, why don’t you try them out next time and see how simple it is to develop your own results without the use of multiple transformers.

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Also for those experienced FME users out there did you know you can copy and paste a transformer into an open Text Editor and review the content, this allows you to see what really is at work inside the transformers you use.

 

Templates

4The ability to save workspaces as templates was added in 2011 though it still isn’t as widely used as I would like! A template is basically a saved workspace, with the inclusion of the data required to run. Using a template means you can bundle everything together and provide to another user….very handy for sharing workspaces with your colleagues.

These templates are given the extension .fmwt, using the template is very simple just open it in Workbench. If data was included in the template file then it will be extracted, stored to a temporary location and the workspace paths updated automatically making it ready to just hit run.

There are many possibilities with templates, they can be great to give out to other FME users as predefined translations. Or when looking for support from the team at IMGS if you provide us with a template you will certainly rise of the top of our to-do list and receive quicker solutions!

While on the subject of templates, if you are reading data from a database and the end user of the template does not have access to this data source then it’s time to introduce a recorder transformer.

The recorder is a nifty little transformer that saves a copy of all the features that enter it and writes into a FME Feature Store file. It’s really simple to use;

  • In your workspace identify the data you want to export.
  • Add a Recorder transformer
  • Connect the Reader feature types you need to export to the Recorder transformer
  • Run your workspace and the data is stored to the FFS file at your specified location

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Now you can send a copy of your workspace and the FFS file. The end user can then add a Player transformer to your workspace and play back your recording – as if they were reading directly from your database. Everyone wins!

The Fanout

Most people probably know everything they need to know about the data fanout, it has been around a long time. But when it comes to listing features that save you time and effort I have to include the fanout. This is a way you can split your output data into separate layers/files based upon an attribute value.

It’s easy to set, just go to the writer properties right click and pick an attribute value. So your data output will be divided on the fly as it writes to your destination.

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For example, I want to create a set of contours from my LIDAR dataset. But I want to have a separate output file for every elevation. If I set the output to fanout by the value of the elevation my results will be quite different.

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Instead of one file containing all contours your destination output will now contain multiple files one for each elevation level.

 

Shortcuts

People always say there are no shortcuts in life, well that’s not quite true. Here are some custom keyboard shortcuts which I promise will make your life easier, no risk involved!

Save Ctrl+s
Add New Bookmark Ctrl+b
Zoom In Ctrl++
Zoom Out Ctrl+-
Zoom to 100% Ctrl+0
Add Reader Ctrl+Alt+r
Add Writer Ctrl+Alt+w
Run Workspace F5
Search Workspace F3

Another one of my favourites is the quick change from zoom in to select. Try it yourself, Zoom in and right click this will resets the cursor back to the select function. It’s the simple things in life.

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Stay tuned for the follow up part two blog of Time Saving Tips in FME which will be published next month.