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I am hoping some of you experts out there can list the pro's and con's of various spatial ETL (extract, transform, load) tools. If you have used these items listed here (or add your own), please share your opinions and experiences. In particular I would like to see usability comparisons of:

Please don't feel like you have to give a review of ALL software's mentioned. You're experience with even one will be very beneficial in making a decision about which direction to go. Thanks!

Example: I am looking to create a schema conversion function that will allow me to select the input layer, create a translation, and output to a new, pre-defined schema. Optimally, after creating the translation script, I would like to have an interactive form where I can "map" fields in my input layer to the output layer (ie- The output layer will have a field called "Address", what is it called in the input layer?)

Some were mentioned in the discussion at:

And here are a couple of related articles that I found.

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There's also Talend's Spatial Data Integrator for use with Talend Open Studio, although I've never used it - just wanted to put it out there. –  Chad Cooper Jan 12 '11 at 3:59

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'll talk only about what i've seen in a professional context. A student of mine worked with an enterprise tasked to receive, validate and integrate huge quantities of spatial data, from a well known source (TeleAtlas) into their GIS. She used several workflows using FME, doing very complicated verifications and tranformations on the fly, from a format to another, like feature selection, topology verification, duplicates removing, etc. The workflow was afterwards able to process automatically incoming datasets.

I was on a jury for a viva probation report (sorry, google traduction of "soutenance de rapport de stage"), where the student described another FME workflow like this, but this time to validate the regional datasets sent to the national level for integration to the national risks database. The main difference is that in this last example the dataset were in very diverses file formats, raster and vector, scales, and styles.

Last, i tested Spatial Data Integrator, the open source ETL based on Talend Open Studio. The features were numerous, however less than FME's, but i think the main differences were on the documentation and the user-friendliness of the workflow creation. I was often forced to modifiy the java code source of the workflow components. But it was an earlier version of SDI, and the shortcomings i describe here are somewhat usual with open source projects at their beginning, and we cannont compare on the same level proprietary well honed software and free open source young contenders.

Hope this helps :-)

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For a recent project working with several GBs of spatial data, I started the data loading / reprojections with FME. It worked well, but there is a learning curve.

By the end of the project I was using Python scripts to automate the reamining processes. FME can be scripted, but if you have the Python basics why complicate things further? Python gives you complete flexibility and with each import script written your Python skills are improving.

I found the following Python packages invaluable when working with data transformations:

If you have a developer / programming background I'd recommend using Python, if you prefer working with a GUI (which can also generate nice images for documentation) I'd recommend FME.

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