Essential Data Interoperability extension vocabulary

Available with Data Interoperability license.


Data format

A data format defines how digital information is encoded and stored in a file or other data source.

  • Native ArcGIS formats are files such as shapefiles or coverages and any element in a geodatabase, such as a feature class or table.
  • Nonnative or external formats are files not directly supported by ArcGIS. Examples include MapInfo .mid and .mif or .tab files, Danish .ufo, and International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-57 .000 or .003 files.

Data source

A data source is an instance of a dataset stored in a specific format.

Data transformation

A data transformation is the process of reorganizing or restructuring data from the source format into destination data.

Data translator

A data translator converts data from one format to another format. For example, a data translator can convert MapInfo TAB data to an Esri shapefile.

Extract, transform, and load

Extract, transform, and load (ETL) refers to the three separate functions that are combined into a single tool and executed as a series, in the following order:

  1. The extract function reads the data from the specified source or sources.
  2. The transform function converts the data using the rules you have specified and creates new data.
  3. The load function writes the resulting data to the specified data file and format.

Spatial ETL

Spatial ETL is a category of tools used for manipulating spatial data, which incorporates the data processing methodologies of traditional extract, transform, and load software.

FME Workbench

This is the primary FME Desktop application used to build translation and transformation workflows.

FMW files

This is the file that contains the Workbench workspace. This workspace is where the translation or a transformation work is authored and shared. The FMW file can be either referenced or embedded to an ETL tool.


A transformer is an FME Workbench object that performs a particular restructuring of features or schema. It is a visual object that you add to your workspace canvas and connect between the source and destination features or to other transformers.

Essential Data Interoperability extension vocabulary