There aren’t many third party IDL books: David Fanning has one, Liam Gumley has one, and Ronn Kling has three. Now Ken Bowman, a professor at Texas A&M University in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, enters the fray with An Introduction to Programming with IDL. This book is geared towards a new user of IDL without programming experience. It covers the necessary topics to get started in IDL basic variable concepts, analysis, file input/output, and direct graphics visualizations including many exercises for these topics. It makes it a good fit for the academics market. From the Preface:

This book is intended to be used in an introductory computer programming course for science and engineering students at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

I think it achieves this goal very well, but don’t look here if you want to take your programming beyond basic analysis and visualization.

A major strength of the book are the downloadable example programs with their documentation, data files, and output. To try the examples, make sure to run @startup first to setup your IDL session.

The book takes the reader through a sequence of chapters learning basic concepts about IDL variables, dealing with file input/output, programming concepts, visualization and analysis. The chapters of the book are:

1. Introduction
2. IDL Manuals and Books
3. Interactive IDL
4. IDL Scripts (Batch Jobs)
5. Integer Constants and Variables
6. Floating-Point Constants and Variables
7. Using Arrays
8. Searching and Sorting
9. Structures
10. Printing Text
12. Writing and Reading Binary Files
14. Writing NetCDF Files
15. Procedures and Functions
16. Program Control
17. Line Graphs
18. Contour and Surface Plots
19. Mapping
20. Printing Graphics
21. Color and Image Display
22. Animation
23. Statistics and Pseudorandom Numbers
24. Interpolation
25. Fourier Analysis
26. Appendix A: An IDL Style Guide
27. Appendix B: Example Procedures, Functions, Scripts, and Data Files