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Review of IDL

2 Getting Started

2.1 Starting the System

When IDL is started the main window appears. This is divided into a number of sections: the menu and toolbars - 3 toolbars are available, Standard, Run and Debug, and Macros. The standard toolbar is equivalent to the File and Edit menus, Run and Debug and Macros to their respective menus.

Where graphics are created, these are displayed in a separate floating window. The window can be split into several rows and columns to display multiple plots.

A similar interface is available on the Macintosh and under X Windows systems. A simple text command line interface is also available for Unix and VMS platforms.

2.2 Online Help

The entire set of IDL manuals is available through the online help system, which in the Windows version is presented as standard Windows help files. This covers the manuals:

There is an additional printed manual, IDL Basics, which provides a tutorial for IDL. It covers image processing, 2-D plotting, volume visualization, mapping and animation, with examples using the IDL command line, editor window and the Insight graphical user interface (see below).

2.3 Demo

A collection of demonstration programs are provided with IDL. These were written in IDL, and are accessible through a single graphical user interface. They demonstrate visualisation, data analysis and application development features. It also provides example applications from Earth Sciences, Engineering, Medical and Physics disciplines. The demos are all interactive, buttons and sliders allowing the user to alter parameters, and each demo has its own help section explaining the demo, the data involved and the demo interface. All the code is available for these demos.

Demo main screen
Figure 1 - Demo main screen

mapping demo
Figure 2 - Mapping Demo

Sample Code

Code for a large number of example programs and the IDL code for many of the basic operations is provided with the distribution (the LIB directory contains around 300 IDL procedures).

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