What are the different feature editing commands in Surfer?

Surfer provides many feature editing and geoprocessing tools under the Features ribbon bar tab. These functions help you get the objects you need, in the format you need them. Feature editing is usually performed on feature objects in a base layer, although they can also be used on floating objects.

The most common feature editing tool is to reshape a polyline or polygon. When editing features in a base layer, Reshape is the only feature editing tool that can be used without being in edit mode for the base layer. All other tools require the base layer to be in edit mode (right click over the base layer in the Contents window and click Edit Group).

The feature editing and geoprocessing tools in Surfer are:


Reshape is the most commonly used feature editing tool. Select any polyline or polygon and click Features | Edit Features | Reshape. You can reshape the object by deleting vertices, moving vertices, or creating new vertices. Change the shape of the object to anything you want. This is useful when fine-tuning features to match other features



Thinning lines or polygons gives you the option to thin out the vertices used to create the polylines or polygons. This is a good option if you too many vertices when digitizing contours, making an exported data file too large. Select a polyline or polygon, click Features | Edit Features | Thin. Choose the simplification method. The number of new vertices is displayed in the dialog, and a preview of the simplified line appears in the plot window. Change the settings to view the applied results. When you are satisfied with the results, click OK.



Smoothing lines and polygons allows you to create smooth lines from angular ones. This is useful when the polylines or polygons were created without much detail or resolution and you wish to insert more vertices to create more data and round out the corners. To smooth a line select a polyline and click Features | Edit Features | Smooth.


Buffers are very popular and in used in many different aspects. Buffers are polygons created at a specific distance. You can create multiple buffers and set the distance to anything you wish. You can create setbacks around wells, or buffer areas along rivers or roads. To create buffer polygons, select the object(s) you wish to create the buffer around and click Features | New Features | Buffer. Enter how many concentric buffer polygons you wish to create, the distance they should be, and click OK.

Intersection Points:

Intersection points creates points at the intersection of polylines and polygons. Select any combination of polylines and polygons and create points where they cross. To create points at intersections, select two or more polylines and/or polygons and click Features | New Features | Intersection Points.

Polyline to Polygon (and Polygon to Polyline):

The polyline to polygon command converts a polyline into a polygon. The polygon to polyline command converts a polygon into a closed polyline. These commands are useful if you need to perform a function that works only on a particular object type (e.g. a polyline) and all you have are another object type (e.g. polygon). For example, you may wish to create a BLN file containing a polygon for blanking, but all you have is a closed polyline. You can select the polyline and use the Features | Change Type | Change Type | Polyline to Polygon command to convert the polyline into a polygon.

Polyline to Points (and Points to Polyline):

The polyline to points command converts a polyline into a series of points. The points to polyline command converts a set of selected points into a polyline either by using the drawing order to connect the points or using an ordered attribute value. These commands are useful if you need to perform a function that works only on a particular object type (e.g. a polyline) and all you have are another object type (e.g. points). You can select a polyline and use the Features | Change Type | Change Type | Polyline to Points command to convert the polyline into a series of points.


Connect Polylines:

The Features | Edit Polylines | Connect Polylines command connects the selected polylines at the closest endpoints on each line. For the command to be active, two or more polylines must be selected. This is useful when trying to simplify files by connecting adjacent polyline segments (so the properties for the entire line can be changed at once), or when wanting to convert multiple polyline segments into a single polygon. Connect the polylines and then convert the polyline to a polygon.

Break Polyline:

The Features | Edit Polylines | Break Polyline command allows you to select a polyline and break it at any user-specified location along that line. This makes it easy to trim ends off polylines, or break a polyline so a portion can be edited separately or combined with other polylines.

Break at Intersections:

Break a polyline where it intersects any other polyline or polygon with the Features | Edit Polylines | Break at Intersections.


Combine Islands/Lakes:

Combine multiple polygons into a single complex polygon with the Features | Islands/Lakes | Combine command. This allows all polygons to have the same drawing properties, to have the same visibility status and to be removed at once. It also allows for you to create many polygons in a BLN file, combine them into a single complex polygon, and blank a grid outside of the polygons.

Split Islands/Lakes:

Split a complex polygon into its individual polygon components with the Features | Islands/Lakes | Split command. This allows you to edit complex polygons more easily by removing one (or more) from the group to be edited or deleted individually.

Union of Polygons:

Create a polygon around the external boundary of all selected polygons with the Features | New Features | Union of Polygons command. If the selected polygons do not touch or intersect, the result is a complex polygon similar to if the Features | Islands/Lakes | Combine command was used.

Intersect Polygons:

Create a polygon based on the intersection of two or more polygons with the Features | New Features | Union of Polygons command. If the polygons overlap in more than one place, a complex polygon is created. Click the Features | Islands/Lakes | Split command to separate the complex polygon into individual polygons.

Difference of Polygons:

Like a cookie cutter, cut out the overlapping portion from two or more selected polygons and remove it with the Features | New Features | Difference of Polygons command. When the selected objects do not overlap, the created polygons duplicate the selected objects.

When you are finished editing the objects in a base layer, be sure you right click over the base layer in the Contents window again and click Stop Editing Group


Updated February 27 , 2017

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