Getting Started With the Platform Independent Model – Tools and Applications

So nearly everything we have discussed so far is not really useful unless we can figure a way to get it to help with what we need to do with geospatial data. It’s sort of like having the world’s greatest bowling ball with no lanes. How do we make this help us with increasing productivity, promoting sharing, reducing user frustration, and making us ‘cost competitive?’ The simple, practical answer is flexible, user modifiable applications.

What are these applications?

Making practical use of a data standard involves a number of required functions. These are:

  1. Performing an initial load of the PIM from the user defined Standard and providing a mechanism for modification/update
  2. Generating Schemas or compatible physical implementations in a variety of GIS formats
  3. Validating (checking) user data in these same GIS formats against the Standard
  4. Assisting with both User to User translations and Version to Version migrations
  5. Enforcing a discipline that allows for performance of #2 though #4 above.

But how is this done? While this had been done in a couple of environments, the power is doing it on the Desktop. Because a number of these items (such as 3 and 4) involve working with potentially large physical implementations which may reside in local relational databases, desktop tools remain the most practical method for validating or migrating data in place. Initial tools have already been developed by Zekiah using the PIM schema and data as well as the PIM API as the engine for performance.

Applications currently available include:

PIM Builder – This application facilitates the initial load of the PIM. There are fundamentally two methods for this load. One is to input required information manually based on prompts and data input screens. The second is to populate the required information in an Excel Spreadsheet and programmatically read these spreadsheets to create the initial PIM.

PIM Editor – This application permits review and modification of a PIM using data input screens as well as creating new versions.

PIM Profiler – Pictured above, this application allows users to create subsets of either the entire standard or previously defined Profiles. These new Profiles can be used as feature/ attribute collections for the following additional tools.

PIM GeoDbGeneration – This application allows users to create ArcGIS Geodatabases consistent with the physical contents of the PIM. Specific versions of Esri Geodatabases require a valid ArcGIS license for that version.

PIM Script Generation – This application allows users to create an assortment of scripts to build/modify GIS schemas for PostGIS, SpatiaLite, Oracle Spatial, GML, and SQL Server.

PIM Validation – This application reads data exports in a variety of GIS formats and verifies that the schema and/or data content of the user dataset is compliant with the requirements of the standard and/or profile being managed by the PIM.

The following tool is also under active development:

Geodatabase to PIM – This application will examine the schema of an existing Esri Geodatabase, including feature classes, attributes, feature datasets, relationship classes, constraints and other constructs and “infer” a base PIM from the in-place physical implementation. The intent of this tool is to allow users that may already have a data structure in place to generate a baseline PIM in order to begin applying configuration control to their data model. This may be particularly useful for regional consortia or other multi-party organizations in which individual members may have in-place data structures that pre-date current collaboration efforts.

All applications make use of a ‘wizard’ format, specifying a number of steps in performing the function. The general appearance of the PIM applications are the same with the exception of the Builder and Generator. All include on-screen assistance in completing the task and a number of error checks in ensuring the PIM rules are enforced.

Over the next several posts, we will add some links to video of the applications in use. Stay tuned…

This post was written by:

Barry Schimpf

Vice President

See all the posts in this series

For more information on this post, the PIM, Zekiah’s geospatial standards support, or our data configuration management capabilities, please e-mail us at