Key Components

The list of key components in an FME translation is as follows:

  • Workspace
  • Readers and Writers
  • Feature Types
  • Features

This section covers “official” FME components only. For example, it won’t cover any user-defined Python scripting that might be used to exert control over several workspaces.
However, once you understand the structure, it’s easy to imagine where such custom components might fit it.


A workspace is the primary element in an FME translation and is responsible for storing a translation definition. A workspace is held as a file with an .fmw file extension. It can be run in either the Quick Translator or FME Workbench, but can only be opened for editing in Workbench.

Think of a workspace as the container for all the functionality of a translation.

Readers and Writers

A Reader is the FME term for the component in a translation that reads a source dataset. Likewise, a Writer is the component that writes to a destination dataset.

We'll see that Readers and Writers don’t appear as objects on the Workbench canvas, but instead are represented by entries in the Navigator window.

Feature Types

Feature Type is the FME term that describes a subset of records. Common alternatives for this term are 'layer,' 'table,' 'sheet,' 'feature class,' and 'object class.' For example, each layer in a DWG file is defined by a feature type in FME.

Feature Types are the brown-colored objects that appear on the Workbench canvas.

Don’t confuse the term Feature Type with Geometry Type.
Feature Type means “layer;” Geometry Type means “lines,” “points,” “polygons.”


Features are the smallest single components of an FME translation.

They aren’t individually represented within a workspace, except by the feature counts on a completed translation.

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