About Quick Facts Tables

Each format’s chapter overview includes high-level information about the format’s characteristics.

Format Type Identifier

Every format supported by FME is uniquely identified by an uppercase alphanumeric string. This row lists the unique identifier for this format. For example, the identifier for Autodesk AutoCAD DWG/DXF is ACAD, and the identifier Esri Shapefile is SHAPEFILE.

The format type identifier is also called the Short Name.

The format type identifier is used to define the reader and writer to be used for translation.


FME typically allows reading from and writing to a supported data format. However, some formats support either reading or writing, but not both. This row specifies whether reading only, writing only, or reading and writing is available for this format.

Operating System Restrictions

If a format is not supported on all operating systems (Windows 64-bit, Linux 64-bit, Macintosh), Quick Facts tables include a row that lists any restrictions.

The example below indicates that this format is supported only on Windows 64-bit and Linux 64-bit. It is not supported on Macintosh operating systems.

Operating System Restrictions


Format is available only on:

  • Windows 64-bit
  • Linux 64-bit

In some formats, this row links to Product and System Requirements tables which contain additional details about

  • which FME product supports the format
  • any operating system restrictions


Some formats require the installation of the application associated with the format, or may require an extra-cost plug-in.

Dataset Type

FME reads features from datasets and writes features to datasets. The definition of a dataset varies between different readers and writers, depending nature of the format. This row specifies the type of dataset used by this format:

  • File: The most basic type of dataset is the file dataset: a single file whose extension is included in the list of supported file extensions. A file dataset reader opens the specified file and reads its features. A file dataset writer creates the specified file if it doesn't exist and writes features into it. In general, file dataset writers overwrite existing files, but some can append to existing files.
  • Folder: A folder dataset consists of a folder specification. A folder dataset reader examines the name of all the files in the specified folder and reads those files whose extensions are included in the list of supported file extensions. The order in which files are read is not documented. Many folder dataset readers provide an option to explicitly name a subset of the folder's files that are to be read. A folder dataset writer creates the specified folder if it does not exist. In general, if the folder does exist, any files in the folder that match the name of output files will be overwritten; however, some folder dataset writers can append to existing files.
  • Database: A database dataset consists of a set of information needed to connect to a database schema. A database dataset reader reads all the tables in the specified database schema. The order in which tables are read is not documented. Many database dataset readers provide an option to explicitly name a subset of the schema's tables that are to be read. Any tables in the specified database that match the name of output tables will be overwritten.
  • URL: A URL dataset consists of a uniform resource locator. A URL dataset reader connects over a network to a remote server and retrieves the data provided by that resource.

Although they are referenced most often in FME Workbench dialogs, FME also supports these additional dataset types:

  • ODBC
  • NONE

Typical File Extensions

Most file dataset readers will read data from any legally-named file, independent of extension.

Most formats are associated with one or more file extensions. This row lists the file extensions typically associated with this format. When a format uses several files with the same basename but different extensions, the primary extension is listed first and the ancillary ones are listed in parentheses.

Automated Translation Support

A reader or writer with automated translation support does not require editing in FME Workbench before it can function. Formats with automated translation support can also be used in the FME Quick Translator.

FME typically allows automated translation to and from a supported format. A few formats support either automated reading or automated writing (but not both).

Feature Type

Every format supported by FME identifies the features in its datasets according to a well-defined data classification scheme. This primary classification is known as the feature's type, which serves as the main handle to a feature.

This row describes the format’s classification scheme. For example, a simple classification scheme is to identify features according to the file or table they reside in (the feature's type is the file base name or table name, respectively).

For level-based formats, features are typically grouped by level (the feature's type is the level in which it resides). Another common classification is to group features according to the thematic layer to which they belong – for example, roads, railways, and rivers.

Although these are the most common classification schemes, the list of possible schemes is quite broad because the classification chosen is individual to the format.

User-Defined Attributes

An FME feature consists of geometry and attributes. While many of a feature's attributes are predefined by FME and the feature's format (such attributes are constant from one dataset to another), some formats allow users to define custom attributes.

These user-defined attributes give the format flexibility to store arbitrary amounts of domain-specific information in addition to geometry. This row specifies whether this format supports user-defined attributes.

Coordinate System Support

This row indicates whether datasets of this format can store coordinate system information, and if so, whether the reader extracts this information.

Generic Color Support

The fme_color and fme_fill_color feature attributes represent the red, green, and blue intensities of a feature. Intensities can each vary between 0.0 and 1.0, and are calculated by taking the color intensity and dividing it by the total intensity range. This row indicates whether or not the format supports the generic fme_color and fme_fill_color attributes.

If a format has generic color support, the reader will add both the generic FME color attributes and the format-specific color attributes to features. Writers that support generic color will give precedence to the format-specific color attributes if they are present in addition to the generic attributes.

Note  Since both generic FME attributes and format-specific attributes exist on workspace features, it is important to note that the co-existence of the two types of attributes can sometimes cause a conflict, and the format-specific attribute will be deleted. For more information, see Understanding Feature Types and Attributes.

Spatial Index

This row applies only to readers: it indicates whether or not the native reader supports spatial indexing. The possible values are:

  • Never: This reader never provides a spatial index.
  • Optional: This reader may or may not provide a spatial index, depending on whether or not one is available for the specific dataset being read.
  • Always: This reader always provides a spatial index.

Schema Required

This row applies only to writers. For workspaces, it indicates whether or not feature type definitions are required.

For FME Objects applications, it indicates whether or not schema features need to be provided to the writer before data features can be written to a dataset.

Encoding Support

This row indicates whether a format supports character encoding schemes for attribute values.

Users who need to translate their international data will benefit from this enhanced support as they do not have to set their default system language (on Windows, this is set through the "Regional and Language Options" dialog) to match the encoding of the data. Depending on the format, the character encoding may need to be specified by the user.

Transaction Support

This row applies only to writers: it indicates whether or not the writer supports transaction processing.

Transaction support eases the data loading process. Occasionally, a data load operation terminates prematurely due to data difficulties: the transaction support provides a mechanism for reloading corrected data without data loss or duplication.

For workspaces, it indicates whether or not the starting transaction number and the transaction interval can be specified.

For FME Objects applications, it indicates whether or not the universal writer object honors the startTransaction, commitTransaction, and rollbackTransaction methods.

Geometry Type Attribute

The name of the feature attribute that contains the feature's format-specific geometry type.

Supported Geometry

See FME Geometry Model for more information on supported geometry.

Within each format, this table indicates which geometry types the format supports.







circular arc


donut polygon


elliptical arc




















z values


Raster Support

In any raster format, this table provides additional raster-specific information.

For comprehensive information about how FME processes raster data, see Rasters.

Band Interpretations

Red8, Green8, Blue8

Palette Key Interpretations

not applicable

Palette Value Interpretations

not applicable

Nodata Value


Cell Origin (x, y)

0.5, 0.5

Rotation Support


GCP Support


World File Support


TAB File Support