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Recent Product Updates

What's New in IDL 8.5

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

IDL 8.5 includes new features and functionality such as a new bi-directional IDL-Python bridge, new time series routines, a new color picker, new functional programming enhancements, and more. Learn how IDL 8.5 can help you interpret your data, expedite discoveries, and deliver powerful applications to market.

Note: If you are new to IDL or upgrading from an older version, refer to the What's New topics for previous releases.

New Features

Python Bridge

IDL now has a bridge from IDL to Python and Python to IDL. From your IDL code, you can now access any Python modules, transfer variables, and call built-in functions. Similarly, from your Python code, you can make IDL calls, transfer variables, and manipulate IDL objects. The bridge has the following features:

  • Works with Python 2.7+ and Python 3.4+
  • Access to all IDL routines and Python modules
  • Seamless: looks just like an IDL object or Python module
  • All bridge output is redirected to the standard output
  • Case sensitivity and row/column major is handled automatically
  • Can execute arbitrary command strings in either language
  • Automatic data conversion from IDL arrays to numpy arrays
  • Data is passed by reference when calling routines/methods
  • Can pass main variables back & forth

For example, within IDL, you could execute the following Python commands to create a matplotlib plot:

IDL> ran = Python.Import('numpy.random')
IDL> arr = ran.rand(100) ; call "rand" method
IDL> plt = Python.Import('matplotlib.pyplot')
IDL> p = plt.plot(arr)   ; call "plot", pass an array
IDL> void = plt.show(block=0) ; pass keyword

Within IDL, you can also directly enter Python "command-line mode":

IDL> >>>
<>>> import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
>>> import numpy.random as ran
>>> arr = ran.rand(100)
>>> p = plt.plot(arr)
>>> plt.show()

On the Python side, you can easily access all IDL functionality:

>>> from idlpy import IDL
>>> import numpy.random as ran
>>> arr = ran.rand(100)
>>> p = IDL.plot(arr, title='My Plot')
>>> p.color = 'red'
>>> p.save('myplot.pdf')
>>> p.close()

For more information see the Python Bridge documentation in IDL Help.

IDL IPython Notebook Kernel

Along with the Python Bridge, IDL now has a kernel for running IDL in an IPython notebook. See the Python Bridge documentation in IDL Help for details.

Color Selection

The DIALOG_COLORPICKER function allows you to interactively select a color using a selection dialog. The basic dialog grid includes 64 standard colors. You can set custom and preferred colors using keywords.

Function Pointers

IDL_Object has a new _overloadFunction method which allows you to create "function pointers" in IDL. By implementing IDL_Object::_overloadFunction for your class, you can have your object behave like an IDL function.

Dynamic Methods

IDL_Object has a new _overloadMethod method which allows you to create "dynamic methods" in IDL. By implementing IDL_Object::_overloadMethod for your class, your users can call arbitrary methods on your object.

IDL_Variable::ToList Method

You can use the new IDL_Variable::ToList method to easily convert IDL variables into lists.

WGET to Retrieve URL Files

You can use the new WGET function to quickly and easily retrieve files from URLs:

IDL> WGET('http://www.google.com/index.html',FILENAME='test.html')



BARPLOT, ELLIPSE, and POLYGON now support fill patterns

BARPLOT, ELLIPSE, and POLYGON now have four new properties: PATTERN_BITMAP, PATTERN_ORIENTATION, PATTERN_SPACING, and PATTERN_THICK. You can use these properties to create either pattern fills or line fills. For example:

data = (RANDOMU(s,10)+0.1) < 1
bottom = (data/4-0.1) > 0
b = BARPLOT(data, $
  BOTTOM_VALUES=bottom, $
  FILL_COLOR='red', $
  BOTTOM_COLOR='yellow', $
  C_RANGE=[0,1], $

For details see the BARPLOT, ELLIPSE, and POLYGON topics in IDL Help.

HASH: Auto-Instantiation of Nested Hash Elements

Previously, to create a nested hash of hashes, you would need to use multiple statements, such as the following:

h = HASH()
h['a'] = HASH()
h['a', 'b'] = HASH()
h['a', 'b', 'c'] = 5

Now, when you use "unknown" subscripts for array indexing, IDL will automatically create the necessary nested hash. For example:

h = HASH()
h['a', 'b', 'c'] = 5

IDL prints:

  "a": {
  "b": {
    "c": 5

IDLgrPalette::NearestColor Now Accepts Arrays

The IDLgrPalette::NearestColor method now accepts arrays for the red, green, and blue arguments. This significantly increases the speed when computing the nearest color for thousands of input values.

READ_CSV Can Now Read from URLs

The READ_CSV function can now read CSV files that are on a remote server, simply by specifying a URL for the file name. The QUERY_CSV function can also be used with URLs.

SOCKET: Create Server-Side Sockets

The SOCKET procedure has three new keywords to enable you to create server-side sockets. The ACCEPT keyword specifies a LUN on which to accept communications, the LISTEN keyword specifies a port to listen to, and the PORT keyword specifies the port number.

Library updates

Upgrade to CDF Library

The CDF library has been upgraded to version In addition, the CDF_LIB_INFO and CDF_CONTROL routines have new keywords for handling leap seconds and sparse records.

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