This keynote paper gives an overview of emerging technologies of feature-based characterisation, for surface topographies having features. It is complementary to conventional surface characterisation using texture field parameters. An original concept, the feature spectrum is proposed to organise surfaces, in order to help select the appropriate characterisation for different types of surface topographies and to achieve a more direct relationship between characterisation, manufacturing process and surface function. The keynote paper focuses on fundamentals and the state of the art for feature-based characterisation technologies. Applications of feature-based characterisation are illustrated and discussed. Guidelines for future industrial applications are laid out, and considerations for future challenges are addressed. Surfaces, Micro structure, Feature-based Characterisation.