Oct
20
2010

More affordable spatial data loading for SQL Server

Do you have spatial data stored in ESRI Shapefiles, MapInfo TAB files, MIF/MID files, or CSV files that you have to load into SQL Server? If you do, then this new and more affordable product from SAFE Software may meet your needs.

SAFE has quietly released FME Desktop SQL Server Loader Edition, a $500 subset of the full functionality found in their "FME Desktop Microsoft SQL Server Edition" product. Here's the description of this new product from their Web page:

"Quickly load data into Microsoft SQL Server. With this edition, you can convert four popular GIS data formats – Shapefiles, MIF/MID, TAB and SQL Server Spatial - into SQL Server spatial and non-spatial. It also includes key transformers to help you restructure your data for easy loading into SQL Server."

If you're curious or interested, I recommend that you watch the professionally-done 7 minute video that demonstrates the features without a second of marketing fluff. A couple things that a spatial newbie noticed in the short video:

  • Quietly converts from one coordinate system to another while loading.
  • Lets you test your loading script by redirecting the output to the FME Visualizer, or one or two other options, before doing the final load.
  • Displays the source, destination, and selected transformations in a visual designer that will be familiar to users of SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).
  • Works with both the geometry and geography data types.

Here are a couple screen shots that I captured from the video.

1. Choosing your source and destination - a familiar task.

2. A simple load with no transformations.

3. Checking the results of your load in the Visualizer.

4. Some of the transformations that are available. Those that are grayed out are available only in the full edition of the product.

5. A load that includes a transformation - a familiar visual approach for SSIS users.

Note that the SQL Server Loader Edition does not include any components for the SSIS toolbox; you do all your work in the FME Workbench. The more costly full version, however, provides 250 SSIS transformations for spatial data and additional integration features.

You can download a 14-day trial edition of the FME product; however, the trial is the full product, not the SQL Server Loader Edition described in this blog post.

One final bit of trivia: With some difficulty, I discovered that FME originally stood for "Feature Manipulation Engine." I found this 2008 blog post where SAFE explains that the name is really intended to mean "Data Transformation Engine," so they're not spelling out F-M-E any more.

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If you need technical support, you'll do far better by consulting thousands of other SSIS users in the SSIS forum at http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/sqlintegrationservices/threads/.

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-Doug