OpenStreetMap (OSM) Protocolbuffer Binary Format (PBF) Reader

Licensing options for this format begin with FME Desktop Professional Edition.


FME provides read access to OpenStreetMap (OSM) Protocolbuffer Binary Format (PBF) files. FME treats each element type in a PBF file as a feature type. The OSM element types are:

  • node: a point feature
  • way: either a line or polygon feature
  • relation: a collection of features

Each element is treated as a feature, and each tag on a element is treated as an attribute.

OpenStreetMap PBF is an open source transfer format for vector GIS data created by the OpenStreetMap community. PBF files are generally much smaller than OSM XML files, which they are designed to replace.

More information about OpenStreetMap PBF can be found at

Format Usage Notes

The OSMPBF Reader does not always output every node in a PBF file. Nodes that have no tags are skipped, and their coordinates are simply incorporated into the ways and relations that reference those nodes.

Some OSMPBF elements are associated with z-values that indicate the order in which those elements should be drawn on a map. Since these values are not actual z coordinates, they are not included in the feature’s geometry. Instead, they are included as an attribute on the feature.

Reader Overview

The OSMPBF reader supports reading multiple element types from the same OSM PBF file. Because of this, a separate reader must be created for each OSM PBF file.

The element types must be defined in the workspace before they can be read.