ArcGIS Data Interoperability

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General | ArcGIS Data Interoperability| Getting Started

What is the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension?

The extension is an optional extension to ArcGIS and is based on Safe Software's FME technology. The extension provides support for reading over 100 GIS, CAD, and database formats. The extension also provides tools for quick data translations between these supported formats. The ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension includes the FME Workbench application from Safe Software. This is a graphic authoring environment that allows you to visually build data transformations to manipulate spatial data as it is moved from one system to another. FME is a complete spatial extract, transform, and load (ETL) solution that enables GIS professionals to quickly translate, transform, integrate, and distribute spatial data.

What is spatial ETL?

ETL stands for extract, transform, and load. ETL means you extract data from a source system, transform the data into the format and data schema required by the destination system, then load the data into the destination system. The spatial in spatial ETL means you can extract, transform, and load spatial data.

Licensing | Installation

Is ArcGIS Data Interoperability included with the core ArcGIS for Desktop product?

No. ArcGIS Data Interoperability is an extension to ArcGIS, meaning it adds optional functionality to the core ArcGIS product. This is similar to the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst, ArcGIS 3D Analyst, or ArcGIS Network Analyst extensions.

Is ArcGIS Data Interoperability installed with the core ArcGIS 10 Desktop product?

No. At the 10 release, the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension is a separate setup available on the ArcGIS for Desktop media. You may install ArcGIS Data Interoperability without licensing it and gain access to GML simple feature-based formats. Users who are licensed must still install the extension from its own setup.

Does this work in ArcScene and ArcGlobe?

Yes, the extension works in all the desktop applications: ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcScene, and ArcGlobe.

I heard that Data Interoperability may be enabled in ArcGIS Desktop without being licensed. How do I do that?

Yes, a limited subset of Data Interoperability functionality may be accessed without the extension being licensed, namely support for read and write of GML simple features and GML-based formats. However, the extension must first be installed. Data Interoperability is a separate install on your desktop install media; please contact the person at your site responsible for managing your software media and request the DVD for you to install Data Interoperability.

I have an evaluation copy of ArcGIS Data Interoperability. What do I need to make it a fully licensed version?

You can turn the evaluation copy of ArcGIS Data Interoperability into a full version of the software by contacting Esri Customer Service to purchase a license. Users with a single use license of ArcGIS for Desktop will receive a registration number that can be inserted using the registration wizard in the ArcGIS for Desktop Administrator. Users with a concurrent use license will receive an updated license file that can be added using the Update License tool on the license manager server.

I have a license of the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension; how do I enable support for additional data formats?

Contact Safe Software at to inquire about how to upgrade your ArcGIS Data Interoperability license to support additional data formats.

Feature Functionality

Does the extension provide support for raster data formats?

At this time, there is only one available raster format for export—PNG/GIF. All other formats are vector formats.

What types of transformations can you do when creating your own data format?

The extension supports numerous transformations for assembling data and joining attributes.

Can I edit data supported via this extension?

No, data accessed from this extension is read-only. However, you can select and export the features you want to edit to a geodatabase, then after editing, convert the features back to the source format.

How do I create a Spatial ETL process with the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension?

There are two options for saving an ETL process. You can create a Spatial ETL custom geoprocessing tool that can be used to move data from one system to another, or you can create a custom format, which is a dynamic transformed view of a data source that requires no data conversion.

What is an example of why you would create a Spatial ETL tool?

One common example is if you have multiple sources of data that you want to migrate to an enterprise geodatabase that has been preconfigured to a standardized data model. Spatial ETL tools can be used to clean, update, and validate the source data to match the destination data model and load it into the enterprise geodatabase.

What is an example of why you would define your own data format?

One example may be to use and display data that is stored in a GPS log file. For example, many people store or receive GPS data in a delimited text format. You can build a custom format that reads the text data, then transforms the data into a more recognizable GIS format, such as one that can be displayed as point and line geometries with associated attributes. All the feature construction and attribute joining would happen behind the scenes, allowing anyone using this data format to use the GPS log in ArcGIS, similar to other data formats.


Is the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension available for ArcGIS Engine?

Yes. The ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension for ArcGIS Engine enables the desktop extension's data handling and support capabilities to be embedded in custom desktop applications.

Is there an ArcGIS Data Interoperability API?

No, there is no ArcGIS Data Interoperability application programming interface (API). The direct format use is available via the plug-in data source in standard ArcObjects, and the extension just adds functionality to this data type. The transformation capabilities are not available outside the user interface and geoprocessing environment. The Data Interoperability extension for ArcGIS Engine provides access to ArcGIS Data Interoperability tools (Quick Import, Quick Export, Spatial ETL) through the geoprocessor class.

Find more information on the plug-in data source.

Server | Scalability

Is the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension available for ArcGIS for Server?

Yes, the ArcGIS for Server Data Interoperability extension is available for ArcGIS for Server.

What edition of ArcGIS for Server is required for ArcGIS for Server Data Interoperability extension?

ArcGIS for Server Data Interoperability extension is available with ArcGIS for Server Standard and Advanced.

What functionality does the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension for ArcGIS for Server provide?

ArcGIS for Server Data Interoperability extension will enable you to

  • Extend map services by publishing map documents that contain any interoperability-supported format.
  • Extend geoprocessing services by publishing geoprocessing models that contain Quick Import, Quick Export, or Spatial ETL tools.
Do I need an ArcGIS for Desktop Data Interoperability license to work with the ArcGIS for Server Data Interoperability extension?

You don't need an ArcGIS for Desktop Data Interoperability license to "make it work" on ArcGIS for Server; however, you will need an ArcGIS for Desktop Data Interoperability license to author the resources before publishing them to ArcGIS for Server. These resources can be either a map document or geoprocessing model. This follows the author, publish, use paradigm of ArcGIS.

Are there any plans to release the ArcGIS Data Interoperability for ArcGIS for Server extension for UNIX/Linux?

No. At this time, there are no plans to release or support the extension on UNIX/Linux.