IDL 8.0 introduces yet another help system. The help system inside the Workbench and the web server to view HTML pages are gone. This is welcome for me, as I did not like the 7.x help system and was wondering how long I could reasonably use the IDL Assistant from IDL 6.4. But I primarily use IDL form the command line; Workbench users with only a single monitor may not be as thrilled that they have to have two separate applications open.

The integration with IDL is still available, using ? on the command line (either from the command line version of IDL or the Workbench) will still bring up the help. In the Workbench, you can select a term and view “Help on Selected Item” (although I couldn’t successfully bind that to a keyboard shortcut). If you launch help from the Workbench, the help viewer will go away when you quit the Workbench, but you can also start the help viewer independently.

My one complaint with the help viewer is that it defaults to the “Search” tab instead of the “Index” tab, which I use almost exclusively.