FME: Setting a Raster Output Name Dynamically

date:2009-10-10 13:17
tags:Data Processing, fme

I have started to use FME more and more for data imports and data processing. I like automating any workflow as much as possible, and FME is great for this. For one part of a project had a number of similar raster processes that could be defined in a single workspace, as long as parameters could be used.

The system documentation is normally both detailed and clear, and FME also has very good support and community web sites.  However in this case it took a lot of documentation reading and trial and error to work out how to change the ouput filename of a model. This may be obvious to experienced users of FME, but it had me stumped for a while.


The steps involved are simple in retrospect, and are as follows:

Create your raster model as normal, but add an additional AttributeSetter transformer, as shown in the screenshot above.

Next create a new Published Parameter that will be used to pass in the output raster filename. The source dataset and destination folder can also be set to be published parameters to provide full flexibility.


Next right click on the newly created published parameter and check the AttributeSetter value item. This creates the link between the parameter and the value for the attribute.


If you look at the AttributeSetter’s properties they should now look similar to below.


Finally look at the properties for your output raster dataset. Make sure the “Fanout By Attribute” is checked and the attribute is set to fme_basename. This sets the output filename to be the same as the fme_basename attribute value, which is now set via an input parameter.


The model is now ready to run from the command line or through a batch process, for one or many raster transformations. The output filename parameter does not require a .tif extension.

fme.exe raster_sample.fmw
      --SourceDataset_ARCVIEWGRID C:\Grids
      --DestDataset_GEOTIFF C:\Rasters
      --OutputFileName MyOutputRaster


1. Ed Katibah **

Good discussion. I’ve talked with some of our SQL Azure folks and they had the following comments: “[The] Data transfer rate issue is clearly not a problem between the DB and the app as long as they are in Windows Azure. Apps using SQL Azure that aren’t in Windows Azure will pay additional amounts but that is [a] less common [scenario] due to network latency [considerations]. Usually people end up putting some local cache DB like SQL [Server] Express [in Windows Azure].”.

Here is information from our web site: Data Transfer Details: “Our data transfer rates are determined by the region in which your solution is deployed. Data transfers between Azure Services located within the same sub region are not subject to charge. Data transfers between sub regions are charged at normal rates on both sides of the transfer. A sub region is the lowest level geo-location that you may select to deploy your applications and associated data.


2. David Chou **

Great post. And we’re glad to see that you find value in using SQL Server for GIS applications. Although a few clarification points may help with understanding SQL Azure better and how it can be best used.

1. SQL Azure is a multi-tenant, scale-out relational database service. It’s not “hosted SQL Server” a-la-SaaS style. The implementation today, in a nutshell, allows you to interact with the SQL Azure application, but each logical database is actually managed as 3 separate replicas underneath the SQL Azure application, which then use SQL Server as the relational database engine. The SQL Azure application then load-balances and synchronizes the incremental changes across those 3 replicas. To you it’s looks like one SQL Server database over the Internet but SQL Azure uses this strategy to ensure resiliency and scalability. It’s not the same as any hosting solution anywhere else.

2. The “Currently you can’t bring your existing on-premises Windows Server, SQL Server to Windows Azure, SQL Azure” comment was intended to point out that developers cannot bring server software to deploy into Windows Azure and SQL Azure; as you can tell from the first point above – Windows Azure and SQL Azure aren’t hosted servers. Thus, from a development model perspective, Windows Azure and SQL Azure actually do support current applications and databases created locally and then uploaded into Azure. In fact, for SQL Server, all your views, stored procs, functions, and data, can all go directly into SQL Azure. There are some differences but today we’re at about 98% feature parity and are working towards 100%.

3. Similar to your observations, and as Ed Katibah pointed out, SQL Azure isn’t ideally suited as a replacement for a local SQL Server database. This also goes back to what does cloud computing represent? Many people think cloud is simply someone else’s data center that runs the same things for rent. In our case, Windows Azure and SQL Azure, as they are implemented as a different type of technology, they’re not simply hosted versions of software that you have locally. And thus, they’re ideally suited for different types of workloads and application scenarios. However, some laws of physics still apply, as an application that uses a relational database as a back-end will continue to operate better having the database local as opposed to over the Internet. And that means many applications that use SQL Azure will also be more ideally suited to be hosted in Windows Azure as well. Other scenarios also evolve around data sharing leveraging data integration techniques.

Just my thoughts. :) Best! -David (


3. geographika **

Thanks Ed. Good to know that its the data that leaves the cloud that

is counted. I presume that a WMS MapServer could be set up as an Azure application after reading this post.

I guess the sub-regions also help government departments from keeping within data legislation rules.


4. geographika **

Your technical summary makes far more sense than the marketing pages!

I’ve updated my post to include your comments.

With regards to where cloud computing could be useful, hosting the mapping engine and database in Azure could provide a powerful, scalable back-end for many different client map viewing applications.

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