Golden Software Blog

Helping you learn more about the latest product information, tips, tricks, techniques, and customer stories so you can visualize data and communicate results with ease.

Comparing Surfer and QGIS

Comparing Surfer and QGIS

Quite often people will ask, “What are the differences between Surfer and QGIS?” Below is a comparison of the main features and functionality of each program. Surfer, as you may know, provides 2D and 3D contouring complete with surface mapping software. QGIS has an assortment of plugins, and we haven’t been able to review them all. I encourage you review and let me know if there is any missing information. As new information comes in, I’ll be sure to update the matrix below.

 Surfer version 13QGIS version 2.12.3Price1-3 licenses $849/license4-10 licenses $805/license11+ licenses $765/licenseFreeDevelopment ModelCommercialOpen sourcePlug-insFree ResourcesWebsiteLive technical supportPhonesEmailLive chatKnowledge BaseForumsUser GroupsDocumentationIn-program helpTraining manualPaid for ResourcesFull PDF user guideLive trainingProvided by Golden Software & authorized resellersProvided by 3rd party contributorsMap TypesBase mapContour mapImage mapPost mapClassed post mapShaded relief mapVector map (1-grid)Vector map (2-grid)Watershed mapViewshed map3D surface map3D wireframe mapPie chart thematic mapHistogram thematic mapMap FeaturesAxesProfilesScale barColor scaleCoordinate systemsImport/edit/export attributesMeasure distanceMeasure anglesDigitize XYZ pointsOverlay mapsStack mapsLog contoursSave/load contour levelsEdit contoursInline contour labelsMap transparencyGridding/Interpolation/RasterizingInverse distanceKrigingMinimum curvatureModified Shepard's methodNatural neighborNearest neighborPolynomial regressionRadial basis functionTriangulation with linear interpolationMoving averageData metricsLocal polynomialFunction gridVariogram modelingGrid date/time dataGrid reports with statisticsFaultsBreaklinesAnisotropyTIN supportGrid FunctionsMathCalculusFilterSpline smoothBlank/nullConvertExtractTransformMosaicVolumeSliceResidualsGrid infoGrid node editorAssign coordinate systemRegridGrid metadataGrid transpose3D File ViewerWorksheetAutomationImport/ExportImport options3322Export options2728Open grid4764Save grid2464

Beyond the actual functionality, another difference between Surfer and QGIS is the development models. Surfer is a commercially developed program whereas QGIS is open source and is developed by a community of contributors. While it’s difficult to quantify, I believe it’s worth mentioning the pros and cons, according to me, associated with our commercial software model and QGIS’s open source model.

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Customer Spotlight: John McMurray Uses Surfer For Meterology & Hydrology

Golden Software customers possess a broad assortment of backgrounds from earth sciences and engineering to education and politics. This vast background results in a variety of uses for Golden Software’s products. Each customer uses the software in a unique way, and we are pleased to share these stories. This blog features John McMurray, President of Commercial Weather Services, Inc., and his use of SURFER in the application of meteorology and hydrology.

In the arena of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), an application of Meteorology and Hydrology has been bridged. With more than 30 years experience each; meteorologist John McMurray and hydrologists Rod Carson have developed detailed spatial resolution of Doppler radar data. John McMurray, President of Commercial Weather Services, Inc. (CWS) has used Golden Software's programs, PLOTCALL and GRAPHER, as far back as the mid 90's in the development of Wind Roses. A 1964 graduate from the NY State Maritime College, Fort Schuyler, BS Meteorology, John spent the next five years in the US Air Force. Separating as a Captain, the next venture was as a Broadcast Television meteorologist and as a private consultant to date.

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Variations in Hillshading: Creating Tanaka-style Illuminated Contour Maps

There many methods for displaying contour lines in visualization and GIS software programs. In most cases, representing terrain data with standard contours or hillshading techniques are sufficient. In other cases, you may want a more artistic technique to help emphasize specific features in the data or to make the map more pleasing to the eye. One of these techniques is using the Tanaka method for creating illuminated contours. I recently read an article about how to create illuminated contours in ArcGIS and couldn’t resist trying to replicate the results in Surfer's mapping software.

The Tanaka method applies a northwest light source to a contour map. The contour lines then change in color and width based on their relationship to the light source. Contour lines facing the light source are drawn in white while those in the shadow are drawn in black. The contour lines facing the light source (or facing away from it) are thicker, and the contour lines in the orthogonal direction are thinner. A more detailed explanation of the method can be found online at: http://www.mbmg.mtech.edu/pdf/gis_illum.pdf

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Jennifer Woodson
Let us know how it goes, Eugene. We'd love to see your finished product! Jennifer Woodson Technical Support... Read More
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 13:36
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Customer Spotlight: Dr. John Hall Uses Surfer For Geological Purposes

Golden Software customers possess a broad assortment of backgrounds from earth sciences and engineering to education and politics. This vast background results in a variety of uses for Golden Software’s products. Each customer uses the software in a unique way, and we are pleased to share these stories. This blog features Dr. John Hall of the Geological Survey of Israel and his use of Surfer.

Dr. Hall is a marine geophysicist and doctoral graduate from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological (now Earth) Observatory. Upon the completion of his doctorate, he worked for the Geological Survey of Israel until his retirement at the end of 2005. His research includes global tectonics, offshore geophysical surveys, and compilations of detailed gridded topography for Israel and neighboring areas. Although Dr. Hall is retired, he continues to utilize Golden Software’s own contouring, gridding, and 3D surface mapping program, Surfer.

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Jennifer Woodson
Hi Chuck, Thanks for your comment! Please contact me at jennifer@goldensoftware.com if you have work you would like to share! We'... Read More
Thursday, 31 December 2015 13:13
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Welcome to the Sondermülldeponie Kölliken (SMDK); the Kölliken Hazardous Waste Landfill

Rainer Albert is an experienced Surfer user and recently discovered the versatility of Voxler. Below outlines his contribution to the modeling of the Kölliken hazardous waste landfill using 3D visualizations from both Surfer and Voxler.

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