It’s always good fun to talk to Don Murray and Dale Lutz of Safe Software. Their company continues to improve their spatial extract, transform and load software, and they’ve further extended the functionality into 3D with their latest FME 2010 release. I interviewed the two recently, and we touched on a large number of improvements and expansion of their toolset.
Their move into 3D continues to fascinate me, both for the added functionality and the ease of many workflows. Don and Dale have been working closely together for the past 16 years. The following back and forth is a typical animated conversation as they both have great enthusiasm for the topic and apply their different perspectives.
DON: If you use 3D in 2009 and now use 2010, it’s like you’re using 3D for the first time. In some cases it’s as much as 100 times faster.
DALE: The other huge thing is that we’ve decided that it does matter what things look like and we bring over the textures. In FME 2009 we were kind of in denial that textures weren’t important and one of our senior staff members overruled Don and I, and surprised us by adding textures. Of course once we saw it, we said that we must have it. It wasn’t something that we defined as a priority, but I’m really glad that it got added.
With these new capabilities, we can synthesize very compelling 3D city models out of 2D ingredients. (see the City of Gavle example on fmepedia)
DON: We have another example where you have a CAD drawing with building footprints and the building heights known, as well as the location of lamp posts and other street furniture, but the orientation of the lamp posts isn’t known. Using FME 2010 in a simple workspace, you can orient the light standards so they’re hanging over the road. With the building heights, we can place them on the terrain so that the model looks like a real neighborhood.
All the ingredients are in the form of vector, raster (both imagery and digital elevation models) and textures, and 3D SketchUp models, and we integrate all of that and put it all out to KML, GeoPDF, Geodatabase, and any one of the formats that are appropriate for a whole cityscape scene.
We think that this is going to take FME into a whole new market –the modeling and simulation market.
Read the entire interview here.