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.