MAPublisher FME Auto and FME FFS Import


MAPublisher has two main functions that support FME Desktop:

1.In FME Workbench and FME Data Inspector, the Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher writer provides export options to convert GIS data into an Adobe Illustrator document, complete with a MAP View and MAP layers.

2.In MAPublisher, the FME Auto add-on provides the ability to import FME Feature Store (ffs) files.

The combination of MAPublisher FME Auto and the Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher writer in FME Desktop creates a full featured GIS processing and design environment. Use Adobe Illustrator templates with FME Auto to create an automated workflow from FME Desktop to MAPublisher seamlessly.  Use the MAP Theme stylesheet Auto-Assign option to automatically have your custom styles applied as data is imported into Adobe Illustrator. Templates and MAPublisher MAP Themes and styles can be prepared in advance.


MAPublisher FME Auto is a separate license that must be activated in MAPublisher License Management dialog box before use (see MAPublisher FME Auto License).

MAPublisher FFS import is available through Import and Multiple Data Import when FME Desktop is installed. For Adobe Illustrator and MAPublisher 64-bit users, install FME Desktop 64-bit. The MAPublisher FME Auto add-on was tested with FME 2018, FME 2019, and FME 2020.

Importing FME FFS Files

This is similar to importing other formats (See Import and Multiple Data Import). In Import or Multiple Data Import, choose FME Feature Store [*.ffs] from the Format drop-down list. Click Browse to select the file(s) to be imported and then click Open.


FFS files can have password protection. To import an FFS file protected by a password, click the Settings button and enter the password. A warning dialog box will appear if the password is incorrect and a notification that says Unable to read datasource displays in the import dialog box.

Using MAPublisher FME Auto in FME Workbench and FME Data Inspector

FME Workbench is a visual workflow editor used for developing data transformation tools. It is commonly used for translations between various GIS data types. FME Data Inspector is a utility that allows you to view data in any FME-supported format. The Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher writer provides export options to convert GIS data into a new Adobe Illustrator document, complete with a MAP View and MAP layers.


To access the MAPublisher writer in the FME Workbench main window, go to Writers > Add Writer. To access the MAPublisher writer in FME Data Inspector, click File > Save Data As. In the Add Writer dialog box, browse for the Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher format.

Click the Parameters button to access the Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher Parameters dialog box:


Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher Parameters

Initial AI File/Template

Translate data from FME to Adobe Illustrator by using existing Adobe Illustrator file (ai) or Adobe Illustrator Template file (ait). If no file is set for this option, a prompt will appear to create a new document when the import process starts in Adobe Illustrator.

Destination AI File/Folder and Document Disposition

After GIS data is successfully imported into Adobe Illustrator, there are several options to handle the document using the Document Disposition drop-down options:

Leave open: After the import process is complete, the Adobe Illustrator document will be kept open

Save: After the import process is complete, the Adobe Illustrator document will be saved, but will remain open.

Save and close: After the import process is complete, the document will be saved and then closed.

Close w/o save: Close the document without saving. Recommended use with Fanout Dataset in FME.

To save a document using a specified name, enter it into the Destination AI File/Folder box and set the document disposition to Save or Save and Close. Alternatively, you can specify only the Initial AI File, in which case it will be overwritten in the process. When no Destination AI file name or folder is set and the Initial AI file is either a new document or a template, a prompt at the end of the automation process to specify a file name or folder will appear.

Existing Document MAP View

Fit to Page After Adding Data

Enable this option to scale the data (existing and incoming) to fit to the extent of the art board.


When an existing Adobe Illustrator file contains a MAP View with the same coordinate system as the data being imported with MAPublisher FME Auto, the If Matching Existing MAP View Found option contains several options to handle the imported datasets:

Create New MAP View: The datasets will be imported to a new MAP View.

Prompt the User: A prompt will appear during the automation whether or not the GIS data should be imported to an existing MAP View. With this option, user can specify which MAP View to use.  This option is useful when there are multiple MAP Views with the same coordinate system available in the specified Adobe Illustrator file.

All data to first matching MAP View: If the specified Adobe Illustrator file has multiple MAP Views with the same coordinate system, GIS data via FME Automation will be brought  to the first MAP View with the same coordinate system as the one with the GIS dataset being imported.

New MAP View Properties (optional)

Coordinate System File

Choose a coordinate system file (wkt, prj, tab) for the new MAP View.


Set an initial map scale for the new MAP View.


Choose a point of origin (lower-left corner or center) for the new MAP View.

Layer Options

Sort Layers by Geometry

Use this option to sort incoming layers by geometry. Points are placed above lines and lines above areas. When this option is disabled, layers will be added to the MAP View in the order they are received from FME.

Other Parameters

Strip Format Attributes

When GIS data is converted to FME Feature Store (ffs) format, the FFS file may contain extra attributes to preserve information of the original data format such as dimension, geometry type, and feature type information.  Enable this option to prevent these attributes from being imported into the Adobe Illustrator document.


Note that FFS retains all the attribute data from its initial sources, which may include source format-specific attributes, source user attributes, etc. While disabling this option minimizes the amount of data imported, enabling it may result in better rendering of the original dataset features and allow you to perform stylization in MAPublisher based on the original source attributes.

Wait For Result from MAPublisher

By default, after sending a request to MAPublisher to perform an import operation, FME does not wait for the application to complete it and immediately proceeds to the next item. When this option is enabled, the format writer will wait for MAPublisher to finish its work and report the results to the FME log, rather than having it displayed in MAPublisher.

Quit Launched Illustrator If Unused

MAPublisher FME Auto starts Adobe Illustrator if it is not running. Enable this option to quit Adobe Illustrator after the import process if it was launched by FME and it has no other pending requests. If Adobe Illustrator is already running when MAPublisher FME Auto begins, this option will be ignored. Please also note that all the writers in the workspace should have this option enabled for AI to Adobe Illustrator to quit. Please also note that depending on timing Adobe Illustrator may quit and launch multiple times if this option is set, since it makes the decision about quitting only based on the requests that have arrived so far.

Character Encoding

By default, the current system locale is used to decode language-specific data for attribute definitions and values. This option is the way to specify what encoding should be used to interpret the attribute data in MAPublisher.

FFS File Compression Level

This option is inherited from FME FFS writer option and has three settings: None, Medium, and High. A lower compression level will result in faster operation while a higher compression level will result in smaller file sizes.

FME Workbench Navigator

All the parameters for the Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher writer are available in the FME Workbench Navigator. Use this panel to adjust parameters before importing GIS data to Adobe Illustrator.


The Adobe Illustrator - Avenza MAPublisher Parameters dialog box is only accessible once. After it is closed, it cannot be accessed again. All the parameters in that dialog box are available in the Navigator panel.

MAPublisher Preference Settings for FME Auto


FME Auto preference settings are in MAPublisher Preferences.


Run this version of Illustrator when using FME Auto

Enable this option to set a specific version of Adobe Illustrator to be used as the default when multiple versions of Adobe Illustrator are installed.


If this preference is not enabled in any of the Adobe Illustrator versions installed, the most recent version will be launched when MAPublisher FME Auto starts. For example, if a machine has Adobe Illustrator CS6 and 2020 installed with MAPublisher 10.7, the 2020 version will be launched.


When Adobe Illustrator is already running before MAPublisher FME Auto starts, it will be used for MAPublisher FME Auto regardless of the option selected in MAPublisher Preferences.

Seconds before timeout

This option specifies the number of seconds FME Desktop will try for when attempting to open Adobe Illustrator. If FME Desktop can not open Adobe Illustrator, a message will appear in the FME Log.

MAPublisher FME Auto Notes

information FME converts images originally in Lab colour (8 and 16-bit), CMYK (8 and 16-bit) or RGB 32-bit to RGB during the translation to FFS. Colours may change due to conversion.

information Alpha channels are not supported when importing images using FME Auto. Images are imported as shown in the FME viewer.

information FME Auto will not create another MAP View for images when it differs from the feature data coordinate system.

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Last updated: 11/30/2020