Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bye Bye Universal Viewer

What is the first thing they teach you in a FME course? To have a look at the data !

All the way back to my first careful steps with FME, the Universal Viewer was there to help visualize and query the data I was working with.

A great tool and without it, it would have been unthinkable to work with any type of data.

 FME Universal Viewer
Since the first appearance of the next generation viewing application of FME (Data Inspector), I have been hesitant to make the transition from the known and familiar Universal Viewer to the new Data Inspector.

Sure there have been moments when I thought OK now I am finally going over to the Inspector, I mean its fancy and you can view in 3D (That was back in the days when the 3D was hot). But somehow I never got around to finally take the final step.
Since FME 2013 was released I have been only using the Data Inspector (I remember somewhere in the beginning of 2013 that the FME Evangelist himself made the transition and naturally recommended it to us all).
Throughout 2013 a number of features have been added to the Data Inspector (background maps, table view) that made the Universal Viewer really seem old fashioned.
The only Universal Viewer functionality I still miss in the Data Inspector is the ability to save the viewed features.

So bye bye good old Universal Viewer I suspect I wont see much of you anymore (wasn't FME 2013 also the last release with the Universal Viewer?)

And for those of you that still cling to the Universal Viewer, take the final step it's worth it!

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right, I hope you had the time of your life.
- Green Day

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rotten Apple

As an ETL specialist you are mostly involved in moving data, doesn't matter what you do with the data you are always moving it in some way.

There is always a starting point (E) and an end point (L) to the transformation (T), this time I would like to share some of my experience concerning the ETL process.

This will no be so much about how to do this or that, but more about the delicate and sometime awkward situations that can arise in the process.

 If you are doing custom transformation work or it is just part of your daily work, the hardest part of the ETL process can sometimes be the process around the technicality of it.

Since you are responsible for the 'black box' for most people (and managers especially) you are bound to get the blame if it goes wrong.

 Lesson 1: make it clear from the start what your responsibilities are!

Make sure that the parameters and expected results of your job are well defined before you even open FME!

This can take some time and you will be seen as a pain in the .... but it can save you a lot of pain and it will make your goals clear and well defined.

In most cases involving large and complicated database schema and design, you are dependent on others to provide you an insight about the database schema or even better: queries to preform on the database.

Most of the times you get a reaction like: " I thought you are the ETL specialist...." or " Don't you know how to do it yourself?", sounds familiar?

Lesson 2: clearly define the input and expected results (especially if large and complicated database schema is involved)

OK you got over the first hurdles and created your workspace and it works or at least you think it does, but wait a minute after some time it turns out that it is not providing the expected results (oops embarrassing moment) but hey we are all human and we make mistakes.

So you rack your brain trying to find where the mistake is done. Eventually you find no fault in your work and the workspace does what it is suppose to do.

In fact you have delivered what was possible based on the information you got, the problem arises when you are not supplied the correct information.

Lesson 3: document the defined input, expected results, responsibilities and ETL process.

Despite it all it can always go bad, there is always a rotten apple.....somewhere in between it all.