Base Map

Base maps display geographic and political information such as roads, streams, lakes, or state and county boundaries. Base maps can be combined with any other map type in Surfer. Base map files draw objects at precise X, Y locations on a map and can contain points, polygons, polylines, text, and raster images.


Some base maps consist of multiple objects (i.e. polygons, polylines, text, etc.). The sub-objects can be selected individually in the Contents window and edited in the Properties window. Edit the group to edit multiple sub-objects at once.


The expansion state of sub-objects in the Contents window is retained in the Surfer .SRF file. Use the Expand new Contents window items option in the Options dialog to control the expansion state of new objects in Contents window.


This map shows multiple base maps, depicting roads

waterways, and a USGS urban area

satellite image for Golden, Colorado, USA.


Creating Base Maps

The Home | New Map | Base command creates base maps from existing boundary files. Use the base map properties in the Properties window to set the base map line, fill, symbol, font, and opacity properties. With some images, you can also reassign the base map coordinates. You can also set the base map coordinate system.


The Home | New Map | Base | Base from Data command creates a base map from a data file. A data file containing XY data  is used to create points in the base layer. Other data in the data file is added to the points as attribute data.


The Home | New Map | Base | Base from Server command allows you to download an image or vector data as a base map from an online web mapping server.  


The Home | New Map | Base | Empty Basemap command creates an empty base map with the intention of creating new geometry within the empty base map limits by using the Edit Group command.


Base Map Example

To create a new base map from an existing file:

  1. Click the Home | New Map | Base command, click the Home | New Map | Base | Base from Data command, click the Home | New Map | Base | Base from Server command, or click the Home | New Map | Base | Empty Basemap command.

  2. Depending on the type of base map, a dialog is displayed.

  1. For the Base command, the Import dialog is displayed with a list of files in all the format types that can be imported. Select a file in the list and click the Open button. Sometimes an Import Options dialog for the file type is displayed. Make any changes to the import options and click OK.

  2. For the Base from Data command, the Base from XY Data dialog is displayed. Specify the rows to include and set the X and Y data columns. Click OK to create a base layer

  3. For the Base from Server command, the Download Online Maps dialog is displayed. Select or add the server and layer, specify the area to download and resolution, and click OK to download the server base map.

  4. For the Empty Basemap command, the Base Map Limits dialog is displayed. Set the Minimum and Maximum X and Y values and click OK. A new empty base map is created.

The map is automatically created with reasonable defaults. Base maps are named with the name of the file from which the base map was created, such as Base-CentralCalifornia.gsi. New empty base maps are named Base. Base maps from servers are named with the map server name, such as Base-Orthoimagery/USGS_EDC_Ortho_NAIP. In addition, the image downloaded with the base map from server adds attribute information, including the server name and layer title.


Adding Base Layers

Select one of the four Base layer types to add a base layer to an existing map:

Editing an Existing Base Map

To change the features of a base map, click once on the base map to select it. The properties are displayed in the Properties window.


Base Layer Properties

The base layer properties contains the following pages:




Coordinate System



Map Properties

The map properties contains the following pages:





Coordinate System



Individual objects in the base map may have other pages, such as Line, Fill, or Text. Each object also has a Info page.


See Also

Introduction to Map Layers

Overlaying Maps

Add to Map

Assigning Coordinates to an Image Base Map

Boundary Maps

Changing Properties in a Base Map

Placing Boundaries on Other Maps

Empty Base Map

Base Map from Server

Edit Group