FME Workbench essentials

FME Workbench is a visual workflow editor used for developing data transformation tools. When the Data Interoperability extension is enabled, you can use it to create spatial ETL tools and custom formats.

FME Workbench Help

FME Workbench includes a stand-alone help system that provides detailed information about FME readers and writers and transformers and context-sensitive help for settings and interfaces.

Starting FME Workbench

There are three ways to start FME Workbench:


FME Workbench can only be used in its capacity as part of the Data Interoperability extension. It cannot be started outside of ArcGIS by clicking the workbench.exe file.

The workspace canvas

Starting FME Workbench opens the main window and workspace canvas. The canvas displays the data sources, connections, transformers, and destination features that define your spatial ETL tool. By default, you work from left to right beginning with the source data objects, directing dataflow using connectors to link outputs to inputs, and terminating the flow at the destination features.


  • Use the right-click shortcut menu for datasets, transformers, and connectors. Each menu is context sensitive and provides quick access to commands that are common to typical workflows.
  • To select multiple objects, hold the CTRL key down while clicking, or click and drag the pointer.
  • Use the F2 key to rename attributes.
  • Use the DELETE key to delete any object.


Navigator is an explorer window that displays your workspace in a tree view. It provides a visual status of your parameters and offers immediate access to editing dialog boxes. To edit parameters, right-click the parameter and click Edit Parameter from the shortcut menu.

To open the Navigator window from the main menu, click View > Windows > Navigator.

Transformer Gallery

Transformer Gallery is an explorer window that enables you to browse for transformers by category or search for them by entering one or more keywords that describe a name or function. To add a transformer to your workspace, double-click or drag the transformer onto the canvas.

To open the Transformer window from the main menu, click View > Windows > Transformer Gallery.


The Log pane is a text window that displays detailed information about your translation during runtime. Use it to trace errors and warnings and to document the execution of your spatial ETL tool. When the translation is finished, you can search for specific text strings, copy and paste the contents to other text files, or save all the information to a log (.log) file.

To configure FME Workbench to generate a (.log) file each time you run a translation, click Tools > FME Options, click Runtime on the navigation menu, then check the Save log to file check box.

Color codes

FME Workbench uses color to provide visual cues about the current state of your transformers and connections.


Transformers display three possible color states on the Properties button. The button is located on the top right corner of every transformer.

Color code


The same color as the transformer with an ellipsis (…)

You can use the transformer with its existing parameters.

Yellow with an ellipsis (…)

The transformer contains default settings, but you have not yet accepted them. You can use the transformer in this state, but your workspace may produce unexpected results.

  • Click the Properties button, examine the value, edit the value if necessary, then click OK.

Red with an exclamation point (!)

One of the mandatory fields is blank.

  • You must enter a valid value before running the translation.

Transformer states


Connectors display three possible color states at each endpoint.

Color code


Input arrow is green.

The connection is set.

Input arrow is red.

The port has no input. This is not an error. A port with no input can be intentional and a valid design. However, it is good practice to verify red arrows to avoid unexpected errors when running the translation.

  • If this is a feature port, no features are entering the connection.
  • If this is an attribute port, no values have been set.

Output arrow is yellow.

The port will not generate output when running the translation.

Connector states

Related Topics

Published 6/7/2010