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Streamline Work Flows With ArcGIS Data Interoperability Extension

Sharing data just became easier with the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension. Jointly developed by Esri and Safe Software, an Esri Corporate Alliance, the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension provides enhanced direct data access, robust data transformation and export functionality, and extensive customization capabilities. These tools in this extension can be integrated into the geoprocessing framework and incorporated in models.

This extension improves the efficiency of work flows and leverages data investments by enabling far greater data sharing across and between departments and organizations and eliminates the time and work associated with translating formats. With the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension, users can directly read and incorporate more than 70 standard spatial data formats in the ArcGIS Desktop environment and export data to more than 50 output formats. These formats include Autodesk DWG/DXF, Geography Markup Language, Intergraph GeoMedia Warehouse, MapInfo MID/MIF and TAB, MicroStation Design, Oracle Spatial, and Web Feature Services (WFS). For data lacking a spatial reference, this information can be added so it can be correctly displayed and analyzed.

This direct read functionality is available at all license levels—ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo. Although data accessed using the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension is read only, features can be selected and exported to a geodatabase for editing and converted back to the source format. Creating an Interoperability DataSource in ArcCatalog allows ArcGIS to incorporate updated versions of the data that has been edited using the source software.

Quick Import and Quick Export tools automate conversion between formats. Customizing import and export tools supplies more refined conversion processes that give users full control over the translation/transformation process while working in an interactive visual diagramming environment.

This environment, Workbench, is built on Safe Software's industry-standard Feature Manipulation Engine (FME). Within the Workbench environment, custom data formats can be defined using more than 120 specialized transformers for both geographic and attribute data. These custom formats can handle multiple tasks. For example, a custom format can be created that reads the ASCII coordinates in a GPS log file stored as text, generates polylines from similarly attributed points, makes closed polygons from the closed polylines, and joins additional attribute data from another file. Note that these processes happen transparently to the user. Once defined, custom formats can be reused and act like any other ArcGIS data source.

Custom formats, as well as supported formats, can be used as inputs for the geoprocessing tools in ArcGIS 9, manipulated within GIS models, and incorporated in work flows that handle data processing and analysis. The results of processing and analysis operations can be exported in various formats.

This extension benefits any organization that wants to incorporate data from a variety of sources and/or support multiple GIS software systems. These organizations include

  • Government departments sharing information
  • GIS service providers
  • Engineering consultants
  • Data conversion companies
  • Data publishers/vendors
  • Utility companies accepting data from contractors
  • Government organizations with the responsibility to deliver data
  • Consultants who require integration/combination of data from different sources
  • Enterprise organizations with multiple database GIS technologies
  • GIS data portals/clearinghouses

The ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension can be purchased and downloaded online. Alternatively, a complete evaluation copy of this extension can be downloaded and later converted to a full license. For more information, visit

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