Department of Astronomy, University of Washington
U of W Astronomy IDL Page
This page last updated on 26-Mar-1999
Interactive Data Language (IDL) from
Research Systems, Inc. is a powerful programming environment which
has become popular with many in the field of Astronomy and other
research fields which require data visualization. This has led to many
public-domain libraries which contain thousands of useful routines.
This site makes available a few contributions from people at this
department, provides a few links to other stuff on the Web, and also
provides a simple search engine for many public domain libraries.
RSI provides a useful hypertext help
tool to browse and search the IDL manuals and supplied procedures.
RSI does not provide a very good
help system for the thousands of public-domain procedures and functions
available on the Web. I have attempted to built such a system, at least
for the libraries which I have installed locally here on our computers
(this does not include all of the available procedures, of course!)
Some IDL-related Sites on the Web
This is only a small subset of what's available, but others have done a
great job making more comprehensive lists of links, so I won't try.
Follow the links here to other pages of links and you'll find most
Pretty Postscript Output
NOTE: The following section may possibly be obsolete due to new
features in IDL 5.0. However, I have not yet learned how to use the
WYSIWYG features of IDL 5.0, and still do it this way.
IDL has the capability of creating some really gorgeous output on
Postscript printers. The snag is that it's not trivial to do fancy
stuff; it's hard to get started and then screen output doesn't like
what you get on the printer. For this reason, I've posted a little
information about generating nice Postscript output. Here's some
- Quick Description of the Software
included in this section (originally a post to the newsgroup
- IDL Main Program: psspecxmpl.pro
which is a heavily commented example of using Postscript hardware
fonts. It includes examples of the Angstrom symbol, Greek
characters, special characters, double-stroke, etc.
- Postscript File of the Output
- IDL Main Program: charsets.pro
which generates a Postscript file of a certain Postscript typeface ("what
character number was ± and Å again?")
- Postscript File of the Helvetica
- Postscript File of the Symbol
- Unix tar file of all the above stuff
plus of some other supporting procedures (e.g. setps, psclose, etc.)
- For an example of a complex Postscript figure generated in IDL, see
results from the 3.5m for see this
color figure of ROSAT X-ray observations of 47 Tuc.
- IDL generates upside-down landscape Postscript output when the
device,/landscape is called. When printing a page, this makes
little difference, but when a Postscript viewer (such as ghostview) is
used to look at the output (for example when IDL-generated plots
are posted on Web pages), it is rather annoying that landscape
plots are upside-down. It is possible to fix this by opening up the
hood and tinkering with the Postscript file itself, or, if you
use my setps procedure with the /landscape keyword, you can run
procedure to fix the postscript file automatically.
Deutsch IMG Library for IDL
The DEUTSCH IMG library contains a collection of procedures useful for
astronomical work with the IDL Programming Language. There are several
"general purpose" routines that others not working with astronomical
data may also find useful. However, many of these procedures call
other procedures in the Astronomy User's Library (from Wayne Landsman
- Everything except the APO software. This is most useful for astronomy-
related work. This requires a reasonably up-to-date Astronomy User's
- Everything including the APO software. This requires a reasonably
up-to-date Astronomy User's Library. Only get this installation if you
want to use the APO (Apache Point Observatory) IDL software routines I've
- Just the miscellaneous routines which may of interest to the general
IDL user. I try to include all other routines from other existing libraries
that get called from my programs.
Back to My Home Page
Back to UW Astronomy Home Page