Listed below are terms and their definitions to help guide you in your writing.

For more information on details about FME specific terminology, visit the documentation page.

FME Platform / Main Messaging

Listed below are terms that are useful to know when talking about FME at the platform level. Many terms are also used within our main messaging (more details can be found in the Product Marketing folder).

application An application is a piece of software built for an end-user. Often referred to as an “app”.
application integration When two or more diverse, unique applications are connected to allow communication between them.
beta A release of FME that is still in testing. Betas are released to the public to get feedback and identify bugs.
build An incremental update to FME noted by a number. The number has two parts, the release year and then the sequential update number. For example, 18403, this build was created for FME 2018, and it is the 403rd update to the code. Build numbers are important when a user requires support from an expert.
data conversion The process of converting data that is stored in one file format into another file format of a different structure (eg. .DWG to SHP).
data format

The name of the file extension is what we refer to as the data format.

In the context of FME, we often will just say “format”, such as in the phrase “FME supports hundreds of formats and applications”.

data integration

The process of bringing together data from disparate sources in a unified view to create a dataset with both valuable and usable information.

This is also the term for the technology market we compete in.

data preparation Process of collecting, integrating, cleansing, validating, and organizing data for analytical purposes like visualization or machine learning.
data science A multidisciplinary field that uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data.
data silo Data stored in a single location, typically by a single department in a company. This data is isolated from the rest of the company.
data source A data source can refer to both a data format or application. It can be used to describe what FME is able to read.
data transformation The process of altering the structure, content, or attributes of data to make it usable for your needs.
data translation Do not use this term. Instead use “data conversion” or “data transformation”.
data type

The term “data type” is often used to describe how data is formatted when using a programming language. For example, a string, array, or integer.

On we use the term “data type” to refer to a data category that a data format would fall under.

data validation The process of ensuring consistency and accuracy within a dataset.
drag-and-drop The ability to click on a component, hold it, drag it to a different location, and “drop” it in place. This can be done with readers, writers, and transformers in the canvas of FME Workbench.
education subscription This subscription option allows a university, college, or school district to use unlimited amounts of FME Form and FME Flow, within student operations and facilities management, for a single annual price.

Enterprise License Agreement. A licensing system that licenses FME for entire organizations instead of purchasing one-off licenses. This helps organizations reduce costs and increases flexibility when starting new projects requiring FME.

Every ELA is subject to negotiation and covers several years.

enterprise subscription

A subscription model allowing a single purchase for an organization instead of numerous one-off licenses. With this subscription, a user can use as much FME Form and FME Flow as wanted, in whatever configuration they want, up to the threshold value of the tier selected.

This subscription lasts for 1 year and is renewed annually.


Extract, Transform, Load. The process whereby data flows from a source (is extracted) to target systems (is loaded) through a set of modifying processes (is transformed). This is a type of process that can be used to integrate data.

When describing FME, always use the term “data integration” over “ETL”. Only use ETL if describing specific details about the product.

fixed license An FME license that is connected to a single computer.
floating license

An FME license that is accessed through a licensing server that any user can access and use. This allows an FME license to be shared between users.

If you only have a single floating license, only one person will be able to use FME at a time. While the licenses can be shared, users are restricted to how many users can access FME at the same time. Think of it like borrowing a book from the library.

FME Platform

Feature Manipulation Engine.

The data integration platform with the best support for spatial data worldwide.

local government subscription This subscription option allows a municipality or county to use unlimited amounts of FME Form and FME Flow for a single annual price, based on the size of their census population.
utilities subscriptions This subscription option allows utility companies (electric, water, or gas) to use unlimited amounts of FME Form and FME Flow for a single annual price.

FME Form

The terms below are used specifically when speaking about FME Form and how it’s used.

attribute Individual elements and items of information about a reader or writer feature type in FME Form. For example, a park dataset might have the attributes: name, location, year built. A dataset can have many attributes associated with it, some of which FME generates to store information from the source format.
authoring When a user creates a workspace in FME Form. This term is also used to describe the creation of Automations in FME Flow.
batch processing When various datasets are used in the same way at the same time. In FME, this would mean running various datasets through the same workflow at the same time (in a batch).
canvas The space where users can drag-and-drop readers, writers, and transformers.
connector Used to connect to applications. Similar to how readers and writers are used for data stored as files.
custom transformer Users can create workflows and save them as “custom transformers” for specific functions. This enables incorporating a workflow within a workflow, which can be especially useful for complex transformations. Custom transformers can be shared and downloaded from FME Hub.

FME Engines run under FME Form and FME Flow.

With FME Form, an FME Engine runs locally to support the tasks created by a user in their workflow. There is only ever one engine per FME Form download.

With FME Flow, FME Engines can be run locally or from other machines on a network to support job requests. More than one FME Engine can be used to support large requests.

Engine should always be lowercase unless paired with FME.

feature The data that you read or write in FME is called a feature. Features define the schema or structure of data. Attributes describe a feature.
feature cache A run option that stores features at every step of the transformation (ie. at each transformer) in a workflow. Clicking on a cache will open your transformed data at that point in a workflow via Visual Preview or FME Data Inspector.
FME Data Inspector A component of FME Form that allows users to view their data for verification and debugging purposes. It is an alternative to Visual Preview.
FME Desktop

FME Form is the authoring environment that enables you to create data integration workflows using a visual interface, no coding required.

FME Form provides three programs: FME Workbench, FME Data Inspector, and FME Quick Translator. These programs are where FME workspaces are created and locally run.

FME Workbench The authoring program that comes with FME Form. It allows users to create, edit and run workspaces.
FME Quick Translator

A component of FME Form that allows users to quickly convert data from one format to another without adding any further custom transformation steps.

This addition to FME Form is an extremely simplified version of FME Workbench and is more of a bonus feature than a selling point. It is rarely mentioned when speaking of FME Form.

publish Workspaces in FME Form can be published, which means they are uploaded from Desktop directly to FME Flow.
reader The component in a workflow that reads a source dataset.
transformer The building blocks used in a workflow in FME Workbench. Each transformer has a specific function. They can be used alone in a simple workspace, or combined to create complex processes.
Visual Preview The data visualization component of Workbench. It is similar in function to FME Data Inspector, but it is accessible directly within Workbench, rather than being a separate application. Currently, it can do most, but not all of what FME Data Inspector can do.
workflow Connected conversion or transformation components composed of readers, writers, and transformers to perform a specific data integration process.

A workspace is the result of using the FME Workbench canvas to create a workflow. Users can read in data from multiple sources, transform data, and write it out to the data format and/or location of their choice. A workspace can be saved and reused later.

This term is often used incorrectly as a synonym for the words “canvas”, “workflow” or “workbench”. Be careful to ensure you are using the correct term in your content.

writer The component in a workspace that writes a destination dataset. A writer writes a single format of data.

FME Flow / FME Flow Hosted

FME Flow is a web user interface used to manage workflows created in FME Form. FME Flow Hosted operates the same as FME Flow but is instead hosted on the cloud.

administrator The person with the highest privileges that installs and manages FME Flow. They are responsible for adding users, ensuring security, doing updates and other administrative tasks.

Application Programming Interface. A programming interface that allows communication between two applications.

FME Flow has an API with a RESTful architecture.

authoring When a user creates FME Flow automation workflows they are authoring a workflow. This term is also used to describe the creation of workflows in FME Form.

To use a tool to complete a task in a quicker or more efficient way, removing the need for manual intervention.

With FME, creating and re-using a workflow is a way to automate a data integration task or process.

Automations An FME Flow feature that allows users to quickly and easily run workflows on a schedule or when a particular event occurs. This is done by creating an “automation” in the Automations drag-and-drop interface.
canvas The space in Automations where you can drag-and-drop triggers, actions, and external actions.
Docker A set of platform as a service (Paas) products that use OS-level virtualization to deliver software in packages called containers. This program helps make it easier to create, deploy, and run applications like FME Flow.
Dynamic Engines When engines are added to FME Flow, they are considered dynamic engines. These engines can be added and removed by a user depending on their processing needs.

FME Engines run under FME Form and FME Flow.

With FME Form, an FME Engine runs locally to support the tasks created by a user in their workflow. There is only ever one engine per FME Form download.

With FME Flow, FME Engines can be run locally or from other machines on a network to support job requests. More than one FME Engine can be used to support large requests.

Engine should always be lowercase unless paired with FME.

event-driven workflow A workflow that runs automatically in response to a schedule or event that occurs.
FME Cloud FME Flow Hosted is FME Flow hosted in the cloud by Safe Software, where users pay only for the computing resources they use. It’s scalable and uses a pay-as-you-go model.
FME Server

FME Flow is the automation environment that enables you to run your data integration workflows on a schedule or in response to events.

FME Flow enables users to integrate their data automatically and distribute it to any web, desktop, or mobile application. Users can set up event-driven workflows, send notifications to stakeholders,and provide self-serve data integration.


A workspace housed within a repository on FME Flow along with values for each of its published parameters.

Jobs can be queued and run in parallel on FME Flow.

Kubernetes An orchestration system that enables customers to easily deploy and manage fault-tolerant deployments of FME Flow on any cloud platform.
queue An FME Flow mechanism to distribute jobs to specific FME Engines and control job priority.
real-time A computing term to describe a process that is happening at the current time. This term is relative to the task at hand and there is no defined amount of time that a process must take for it to be considered “real-time”.
repository Used to store groups of related items that have been published to FME Flow. This may include workspaces, source data, custom formats, transformers, and templates.

A software architectural style that defines a set of constraints to be used for creating web services.

FME Flow can provide services via an API using an underlying REST-based communication mechanism for client-service applications.

Schedules A feature in FME Flow that allows users to run a workspace at specific times in the future. Schedules can be set for specific dates, or on a regular timely basis.
self-serve A term for a system set up to allow the end-user to carry out their own data integration tasks. With this, a routine data management task can be offloaded from staff to users, who can carry out data processes at their own convenience.
SOAP Simple Object Access Protocol. A messaging system for exchanging data between web-based platforms. FME is able to consume SOAP web services.
token An FME Flow service that allows users to generate security tokens using an account name and password. Tokens are used with FME Flow Apps.
Workspace Viewer A feature in FME Flow where a user can view any workspace uploaded to FME Flow.


The following terms will further help you understand Safe Software,, and other topics related to FME, spatial data, and data integration.

AEC Stands for “architecture, engineering, and construction”.
article An online document that is posted on the Knowledge Base by a Safer. Typically articles are how-to guides, workarounds for known issues or FAQs.
big data Big data is defined by datasets that are high in volume, have a variety of information, and are processed at a high velocity.
BIM BIM stands for "building information models". This type of data is commonly used in the AEC industry.
blog An area of the website used for discussing specific data topics that are presented in a fun, less formal manner. Visit the blog at
business intelligence (BI) Using business data in a strategic way to help companies and organizations make informed business decisions. BI software is often used for reporting and data visualization (eg. graphs).
CAD CAD stands for "computer-aided design". This type of data is commonly used in the AEC industry.
coordinate system A system that uses one or more numbers, or coordinates, to uniquely determine the position of a point or other elements on the surface of the Earth.
customer stories A gallery on which provides proof-of-concept stories about how customers used FME to solve their data problems. Visit the gallery at
data Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.
FME AR An augmented reality application available on Android and iOS smartphones that allow users to view their data overlaid in their environment. FME AR is open source and uses the data format .fmear.
FME Community A place where both FME users and Safers can discuss FME related projects, issues, and ideas. The FME Community is made up of the forum, Knowledge Base (where Safers post tutorials), and the ideas exchange.
FME Data Express FME Data Express lets you browse, view, and run workspaces in your instance of FME Flow or FME Flow Hosted on a mobile device.
FME Hub A web platform where users and Safers can upload and share their custom FME transformers, formats, templates, web connections, and projects. Hub items can be accessed directly in FME Workbench using the Quick Add tool. See more at
FME User Conference This conference (often referred to as the FME UC) brings together the world’s top data experts to exchange knowledge, help learn new FME skills, and to become inspired. Occurs once every 3 years in Vancouver.
FME World Tour The FME World Tour is designed to deliver the coolest and latest FME updates and to provide a forum for users of all levels to network and interact with their local FME community and FME experts. Occurs every year in 70+ cities. Each year we refer to the event as “FME World Tour ####” (eg. FME World Tour 2020, not FME 2020 World Tour).
free licenses

There are 6 types of free FME licenses offered:

  • 30 Day-trial
  • Home Use
  • Student
  • Instructors
  • Research/Non-Profit
  • Recent Graduates
GDPR General Data Protection Regulation. A data and privacy protection for all the individuals within the European Union. Safe Software follows these guidelines.
geospatial data

Data that is connected to a specific location or lat/long coordinate. This data is commonly used by those in the field of GIS.

The term is synonymous with “spatial data”, however, we use this term when we are wanting to be specific about 2D spatial data, mapping and analysis.

GIS Geographic Information Systems. A spatial system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data.
Grant Program The FME Grant Program provides free FME licenses to students, instructors, recent graduates, and non-profit organizations.
ideas exchange An online resource contained in the FME Community where users and staff post ideas to be implemented into the FME products. Users can comment and vote on their favorite ideas.
in-person training Training held in-person by partners in cities around the world.
Knowledge Base An online resource in the FME Community where Safe staff (FME Experts) post articles, known issues, and tutorials.
LiDAR LiDAR stands for “light detection and ranging”. This technology is used to collect point clouds that describe the Earth’s surface.
Linux An operating system that FME software can be deployed on. Visit the downloads page to learn more.
live chat An online chat that is hosted on where customers and users can speak to an FME Expert Monday - Friday 8am-12pm and 1pm-4pm PST.
live demo Customers (or potential customers) can request a customized, live, one-on-one FME demo that is tailored to fit their needs. This can help a potential customer understand more about FME before purchasing the product.
live online training Training given online by FME Certified Trainers (often from Safe Software) in a virtual classroom. Courses include a virtual machine complete with FME license, sample data, workspaces, and the course manual.
liz liz is the design system created by the Digital Marketing team for developers, designers, and content creators.
FME Lizard The main FME mascot is the nameless green lizard. Lizard-themed material may be found across the website, at events, or within our swag.
Mac An operating system that FME software can be deployed on. Visit the downloads page to learn more.
metadata Data about data. Often the attributes of a dataset are referred to as metadata.
open data Data that is available freely online to be used by anyone.
open source Software where the source code has been made available online to be used by anyone.
point clouds A 3D set of data points that describe an object or surface. They are often created by 3D scanners like LiDAR and contain an abundance of information.
QA Quality Assurance. A system to prevent mistakes and bugs when working on a project.
QC Quality Control. The process of reviewing a product or project after quality assurance.
raster Any data that is displayed as pixels like image and photographs.
raw data Data that has been acquired from a source without being processed or cleaned.
Safers The term used to describe employees of Safe Software.
spatial data

Data that is representative of a specific, geographic location on the surface of the Earth. This data is commonly used by those in the field of GIS.

The term is synonymous with “geospatial data”, however, we use this term more broadly to describe 3D and 2D data that is specific to a location on the Earth.

tech preview

A term used to describe a new FME feature that is still in beta testing, but available in a major release. The feature isn’t stable enough for users to use in production but is available for trial and testing.

Large new features are sometimes provided as a tech preview to encourage more users to try them out to provide feedback during development.

technical support Support provided by our experts. Often support is given within the Community directly on user postings. Direct technical support is provided on a first-come-first-serve basis. Users can reach out via the report a problem form and in the Forums.
third-party In relation to software, programs or features that are supplied or developed for a particular purpose by a different company from the one that supplied or developed the existing programs.
training (videos & manuals) Recorded material and slides from the live online training that can be accessed by anyone at any time (for free!)
tutorials Guides and instructions provided in the FME Community by Safe Software to help users complete specific tasks and learn more about specific data topics in regards to FME.
vector Points, lines or polygon geometry.
web map A map that is hosted on the web and can be interacted with by a user. Allows for real-time data updates.
web services Applications that are hosted online or via the cloud that can be connected to via API’s or other methods.
webinar Short, online events that provide free education, industry insights, and interactive discussions in real-time. View the webinar gallery at
Windows An operating system that FME software can be deployed on. Visit the downloads page to learn more.
Zipster A mascot of Safe Software. This tiny robot is featured on splash screens and various slideshow presentations.


Associate Partner The 1st (entry) tier in the Safe Software Partner Program.
Authorized Partner

The 2nd tier in the Safe Software Partner Program. Authorized partners:

  • Promote FME or FME solutions to users
  • Have at least 1 FME Certified Professional on staff
Bronze Partner

The 3rd tier in the Safe Software Partner Program. Bronze partners:

  • Promote FME or FME solutions
  • Have at least 1 FME Certified Professional on staff
  • Able to sell FME products and annual maintenance

A requirement needed to become a partner or to advance to a new tier as a partner. There are 3 kinds of certification a user can get:

  • FME Certified Professional
  • FME Flow Certified Professional
  • FME Certified Trainer
FME Certified Professional An FME Certified Professional demonstrates an understanding and expertise of the FME platform, with a focus on FME Form.
FME Certified Trainer FME Certified Trainers are proficient teachers of FME who are capable of providing users with excellent training. To apply, a user must be an employee of an official Safe Software Partner and a current FME Certified Professional.
FME Server Certified Professional An FME Flow Certified Professional demonstrates an advanced level of expertise with FME Flow. To apply, a user must be an FME Certified Professional.
Gold Partner

The 5th tier in the Safe Software Partner Program. Gold partners:

  • Exhibit excellent customer service and retention
  • Have at least 1 Pro, 1 Trainer, and 1 Server on staff
  • Keep their FME knowledge up-to-date
  • Host FME World Tour events
  • Actively participate in the FME Community
  • Ambassadors and champions for FME in their community
  • Able to sell FME products and annual maintenance
Managed Service Provider A partner program that allows partners to manage and support an FME Flow Hosted account for a user.
partner A company that works with and is recognized by Safe Software.
Partner Portal A partner only community online where partners can interact with each other, manage their accounts, and access FME resources provided by Safe Software.
Platinum Partner

The 6th and highest tier in the Safe Software Partner Program. Platinum partners:

  • Exhibit excellent customer service and retention via the highest volume of product sales and renewals
  • Actively participate in the FME Community as subject matter experts
  • Have at least 1 Pro, 1 Trainer, and 1 Server on staff who can provide extensive support and regular training offerings
  • Hire and train new staff around FME technology
  • Actively participate as FME World Tour hosts, in addition to other user events and tradeshows showcasing FME
  • Ambassadors and champions for FME in their community
  • Have been a partner in good standing for 5+ years (at minimum)
  • Able to sell FME products and annual maintenance
Silver Partner

The 4th tier in the Safe Software Partner Program. Silver partners:

  • Provide service and support to customers
  • Have at least 1 Pro plus 1 Trainer or 1 Server on staff
  • Promote FME to users and the community
  • Able to sell FME products and annual maintenance