Here is a breakdown of the major features Survex offers. In order to keep this brief, many points are not touched upon - see the documentation for a fuller picture.

Distinguishing features

These are the features which tend to set Survex apart from other cave surveying software packages:
  • It's free! Survex is distributed with full source code under the GNU Public License. Other coders are encouraged to help add features.
  • Multi-platform - using Survex doesn't force everyone working on your survey project to use the same operating system. Currently Linux/Unix, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows are supported.
  • Internationalisation support - translations supplied for English, French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Slovak, Romanian, Indonesian, Russian, and US English.
  • Hierarchical survey station naming.
  • Fast processing of survey data in a wide range of formats, aided by sophisticated network simplification techniques (which also reduce memory requirements allowing Survex to be used on low end machines).

Data processing

Survex also has all data processing features you would expect from modern cave surveying software:
  • Cave complexity limited only by available memory. No arbitrary limits on number of legs, number of surveys, length of station names, number of fixed points, etc.
  • Include files allow `projects' for survey data management. A survey, or collection of surveys, can be included in many different projects.
  • No restrictions on the order survey data can be read in - there's no need to artificially reorder your data to make sure each survey leg connect to a previously read one.
  • Support for a wide range of data styles, including "interleaved data", backsights, underwater surveys performed with a depth gauge, and unsurveyed visual connections.
  • Network reduction with loop closure errors distributed by least squares. Standard errors and closure errors are reported. There's also an experimental gross error (blunder) detector.
  • Data can be partially processed, loops closed, and then more data processed which will not move the existing stations - useful for adding a loop to an existing map without redrawing the whole thing.
  • All instruments (e.g. tape, compass, clino, topofil, depth gauge) have optional scale and zero corrections.
  • Special handling for plumbed legs (where the clino correction doesn't apply).
  • Magnetic declination can be set automatically from the survey date (useful for survey projects lasting many years).
  • Support for most input units: metres, feet, degrees, grads, minutes, and also user specifiable units. Percent gradient is also supported.
  • Each measurement can have its Standard Deviation specified separately (for specifying the 'grade' of a section, giving special treatment to an odd or suspicious measurement, or feeding in measurements derived from techniques such as radiolocation).


Survex includes a fast cave viewer with a native look-and-feel, which can be driven using mouse or keyboard.
  • Fast redraw and bank-switching techniques give smooth, responsive animation.
  • 3D surface visualisation.
  • Printing via the printing framework of the platform you're running on.
  • Large printouts can be produced on multiple pages with cut-marks to indicate where to cut and join the pages together.

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