FME Versions and Workspace Compatibility

Liz Sanderson
Liz Sanderson
  • Updated


At Safe Software, we work very hard to make sure FME is backwards compatible between release versions.
For example, a workspace created in the release version of FME Desktop 2019 can be opened and run in FME Desktop 2022.
Forwards compatibility - the ability to open a newer workspace in an older version of FME - is not guaranteed, though it may work in some cases.
Note that depending on certain bug fixes, upgrades, and library changes backwards compatibility may not work 100%. Always test workspaces in newer versions of FME before putting them into production. 


Content Overview


Backwards Compatibility

In theory, you can open any older workspace in a newer version of FME and it will work.
In practice, FME is backwards-compatible many releases apart. However, there are limits to this. In some cases, we may have to fix something that was broken in previous releases and the 'fix' may create different (hopefully better) results to the 'broken' version.
Also, sometimes incompatibilities are forced on us by formats that need to be removed due to library changes, security, or online web services that change their APIs.
Therefore, when upgrading and skipping multiple versions of FME, we do recommend that you test your workflows before putting them into production, or at least check the list of updates to see if there is anything related to the functionality that you use.
For this reason (and others), FME may warn you if you open, edit, and then try to save an older workspace in a newer FME Workbench and give you the opportunity to save a backup copy.

Tip: Remember you can have multiple versions of FME Desktop installed on the same machine just by using a different installation folder. So you can keep your "production" version of FME working while testing in the latest release. See Installing Multiple Versions of FME Desktop for more information.

Forwards Compatibility

Generally, workspaces are NOT forward compatible. That is a workspace that you create in FME 2022 and is unlikely to work in FME 2019.
This is particularly important to take into account when you are creating workspaces for a customer to use on their FME installation or when you are using an FME Server installation.
For example, if you upgrade FME Desktop to the latest version but not FME Server, then you run the risk that newly created workspaces will not run successfully when published to FME Server.
For this reason, FME will warn you if you try to open a newer workspace in an older FME Workbench or publish a newer workspace to an older FME Server.

Tip: Again, remember that you can have multiple versions of FME Desktop installed. So you can install the latest FME Desktop and still keep your older FME Desktop for workspaces you need to publish to your FME Server.

Compatibility and Version Numbers

To download the current version of FME, please see our Downloads page. For previous versions, see Past Versions.  

FME versions are numbered in the form of 20xx.a.b.c - for example, 2022.1.1.2

20xxNew Version Year
aMajor update
bMinor update
cPatch/Hotfix update


  • 20xx: A new version of FME means that functionality has changed significantly. We strive to maintain backwards compatibility, but features may have been deprecated. See FME Deprecations. Forwards compatibility may be possible, but not recommended as component versions change. For example, a workspace from 2021.0 may work in 2022.0 but is less likely to work in 2020.0. 
  • a: A major update of FME - which occurs once or twice per year - also means backwards compatibility may be compromised - again, only if unavoidable - and forwards compatibility is also less likely. For example, a workspace from 2022.1 may not work in 2022.0 if a feature was deprecated. 
  • b: A minor update of FME - which occurs once or twice per major update - usually consists of only non-urgent bug fixes. Backwards compatibility will not be compromised. It's also unlikely that Forwards Compatibility will be affected. For example, 2022.1.1 is likely to work in 2022.1.0 (and vice versa).
  • c: A patch update of FME is usually an emergency hotfix, so we hope not to make any. However, if a patch update is released backwards compatibility should not be compromised. Forwards Compatibility is also unlikely to be affected. For example, 2022.1.1.2 should also work in 2022.1.1.1.


Update Type, Transformer Versions, and Compatibility

You may have noticed that FME transformers have a version number. This is related to FME version compatibility, as is the type of updates made to transformers.

New Transformers

The use of a newly released transformer renders a workspace immediately incompatible with prior versions. For example, a 2022.1 workspace with the RasterSharpener transformer will definitely NOT work in 2018.0 because that transformer did not exist. You can still open the workspace, but the transformer will be missing. 

Updates without New Version

If the core processes for a transformer change then it's likely a workspace will still be backwards and forwards compatible, as it can be opened and run in either version. However, it might produce slightly different results in each. Generally, this would be for a bug fix, so the results of running the workspace in an older FME are likely to be incorrect; the newer FME results will be correct but different.
This is one reason we recommend testing workspaces when upgrading to a newer FME version.

Updates with New Version

If the parameters for a transformer change then it's likely the transformer will be given a new version number. Backwards compatibility is assured because opening an older workspace in a newer FME does not automatically apply an update to the newer transformer version. Adding a newer version of a transformer - as with a completely new transformer - renders a workspace incompatible with prior FMEs because that transformer version won't exist.
Not applying new versions automatically means transformers can become "out of date," which is why an Update Transformer tool exists in FME Workbench. See Updating Transformers below for more information. 

New Default Values

If the default value of a parameter changes - the default used to be "no" but in a newer version becomes "yes" - then backwards compatibility is assured because opening an older workspace in a newer FME does not automatically change that default. Such a change will not affect forwards compatibility either, although the newer default will be applied.

Updating Transformers

When opening an older workspace in a newer version of FME, any transformers that have been updated will appear in the Navigator pane under Upgradable Transformers. It will show which transformers have upgrades available, [the differences in versions], and (how many transformers). 

To upgrade a transformer, click on the arrow next to the transformer name to expand it; this will show all of the transformers of the same name that are available for an upgrade. Then right-click on each transformer, and select Upgrade Transformer. 

In the Upgrade dialog, FME will show you the differences between the two versions, so you can confirm the desired parameters. To go ahead with the upgrade, click OK. For more information on what was changed, click Show Changes. 

The Show Changes dialog will outline all of the changes that occurred between the two versions. 
For some transformers that have had drastic changes, or have had parameters removed, a warning will appear prior to the Upgrade dialog, outlining what the major changes are. 

Then in some cases, such as the StatisticsCalculator, to ensure backwards compatibility, a new parameter will appear (only on upgraded transformers), preserving the old parameter value that has been removed in the newer versions. 

Readers and Writers

Readers/Writers are not versioned in FME, so changes in behavior are automatically included when the workbench is opened in the new version of FME. However, new reader or writer parameters will not be visible and will use a default setting (usually set to avoid changing the old reader or writer behavior). To make the new parameters visible, you need to upgrade the reader or writer as described in the documentation.  If significant changes are made to a reader or writer, the old one is deprecated, and a new reader/writer is added. In this case, the format short name is changed, for example, for the OGC GeoPackage format. If you open an old workspace in a newer version, the short name is GEOPACKAGE. If you added a new GeoPackage reader, the short name would be OGCGEOPACKAGE which has the new reader characteristics. 


FME Hub and Packages

FME will automatically install the latest version of an available custom transformer or package from FME Hub for your version of FME. This will cause incompatibility with older versions of FME. You can manually download and install older versions of custom transformers and packages directly from their FME Hub page.  To do this, visit the specific FME Hub page, and click the drop-down arrow next to Version to see all available versions and builds. Select the desired version, then click Download. 

Operating System Compatibility

Workspaces generated with FME on any operating system (Windows 32-bit, Windows 64-bit, Linux, macOS) are supported on FME for any other platform. However, some formats are not supported on particular operating systems. Please consult for more information.
In addition, very large 64-bit workspaces may exceed the per-process RAM limit of 32-bit FME. Note that 32-bit FME has been deprecated and is no longer available in FME 2021.2 or newer. Please see FME 32-bit Windows Support.​​

Beta Builds

Functionality in beta builds of FME may be changed or removed without notice in the course of development and testing. Workspaces created using a beta build may therefore be incompatible with the release build of that version.
The earlier in the development cycle, the more likely it is that beta build functionality will change. At the other end of the spectrum, "release candidate" beta builds are close to the final product and unlikely to have any further major updates. See FME Beta Usage | Beta FAQ for more information. 

Troubleshooting Backwards Compatibility

If you have a workspace created in a prior release that does not run in a current release or beta, the issue would most likely need to be addressed by our developers. Please report the problem to our technical support team, including your workspace, log, and sample data if possible.
You should also make sure that you have configured the new FME version the same way as the old one. Check that you have the same:

  • Level of licensing
  • Installed plugins
  • FME options
  • Environment variables

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