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

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 2.12.3
Price1-3 licenses $849/license
4-10 licenses $805/license
11+ licenses $765/license
Development ModelCommercialOpen source
Free Resources
Live technical support
Live chat
Knowledge Base
User Groups
In-program help
Training manual
Paid for Resources
Full PDF user guide
Live training
Provided by
Golden Software &
authorized resellers
Provided by 3rd party
Map Types
Base map
Contour map
Image map
Post map
Classed post map
Shaded relief map
Vector map (1-grid)
Vector map (2-grid)
Watershed map
Viewshed map
3D surface map
3D wireframe map
Pie chart thematic map
Histogram thematic map
Map Features
Scale bar
Color scale
Coordinate systems
Import/edit/export attributes
Measure distance
Measure angles
Digitize XYZ points
Overlay maps
Stack maps
Log contours
Save/load contour levels
Edit contours
Inline contour labels
Map transparency
Inverse distance
Minimum curvature
Modified Shepard's method
Natural neighbor
Nearest neighbor
Polynomial regression
Radial basis function
Triangulation with linear interpolation
Moving average
Data metrics
Local polynomial
Function grid
Variogram modeling
Grid date/time data
Grid reports with statistics
TIN support
Grid Functions
Spline smooth
Grid info
Grid node editor
Assign coordinate system
Grid metadata
Grid transpose
3D File Viewer
Import options
Export options
Open grid
Save grid

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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Who Am I? Working with Personal Genetic Data using Grapher and MapViewer

Humans are born with a natural curiosity about ourselves and the world in which we live. Much of our infancy and early childhood consists of consuming the environment surrounding us, our five senses providing much of the data. As we grow more and more self-aware, many of us begin to ponder where we as humans come from. As science and technology advance, archaeologists, geneticists, and other scientists come closer to answering this question definitively. These advances also allow individuals to begin to answer the question Where did I come from? by using increasingly popular personal genomics services. A few companies providing these services include AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and deCODE genetics.

Several years ago, my interest was piqued, and I purchased a testing kit from 23andMe. I received my kit in the mail, sent off a vial of my saliva, and waited anxiously for my results. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited to receive information about my ancestry or my genetic health risk data! After a few long weeks, I received my results and sifted through my information. 23andMe reports ancestry as the estimated composition of DNA from 31 populations in the world. The report also includes estimated percentage of Neanderthal DNA, haplogroup, potential health risks, likelihood of inherited traits, estimated response to certain drugs, and likelihood of other inherited conditions. In addition to analysis and estimations, 23andMe also gives you access to browse and download your raw genetic data.  When reviewing the analysis and risk estimates, it is important to keep in mind that this is just a snapshot of your DNA. Not all genetic markers are reported and analyzed, and other factors, such as environment and lifestyle, are not taken into account.

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Netherlands Company Uses Surfer to Search for Drowning Victim

Click here for a recent update to this story.

November 20, 2011 - Four recreational divers went looking for known wreckages at the bottom of De Nieuwe Meer in Amsterdam, Netherlands, a ~30 m deep lake with strong bottom currents.

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Meet Voxler 4 - Golden Software's 3D Mapping Software

2015 has been a huge year of innovations at Golden Software, where we have released new versions of both Surfer and MapViewer. The big news for the year at Golden Software is not quite over yet. Voxler 4, released this morning, joins the compelling team of releases for 2015! Voxler 4, Golden Software’s 3D well and volumetric data visualization application, is designed to fit well in the geosciences because of its well and borehole data rendering and its 3D gridding capabilities. Voxler 4 is also very appealing to users outside of the geosciences realm, stemming from the immense list of supported data formats including numerous image formats, 2D and 3D point data formats, vector and GIS data formats, and countless grid and 3D lattice formats. Almost any type of 2D and 3D data can be visualized in Voxler!

Listening to our user base:

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Recent Comments
Jennifer Woodson
Hi jasper, Thanks again for your comments! Contact us at if there are any topics you would like to see fe... Read More
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 14:02
Jennifer Woodson
Hi jasper, Thanks for the kind words! Feel free to contact us at if you have any questions!... Read More
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 14:00
Jennifer Woodson
Hi Tony, The File | Export command is used to export the entire scene as an inventor scene graph (*.IV) file or image file, such ... Read More
Monday, 19 October 2015 11:36
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Maps and Map Layers in Surfer Mapping Software: The Source Coordinate System vs. the Target Coordinate System

Since Surfer 10, users have been able to create maps using layers that contain data from different coordinate systems and reproject the layers to the desired coordinate system on the fly. This valuable feature has streamlined workflows, eliminating the need to transform all data to the same coordinate system before using it to create multi-layered maps. For an example, see the sample file CoordinateSystems.srf, located by default at C:\\Program Files\\Golden Software\\Surfer 12\\Samples. Let's take a look at this powerful component of Surfer's 3D Mapping software!

Know your data

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