There are quite a few new features in IDL 8.5 that I have not covered in previous articles. Here is a summary list:

• There is now a DIALOG_COLORPICKER which you can present to users to choose a color:

• Analogous to the command line utility with the same name, IDL 8.5 adds a WGET routine to retrieve the contents of a URL:

IDL> wget('http://www.google.com/index.html', filename='google.html')

• In function graphics, the BARPLOT, ELLIPSE, and POLYGON routines now support fill patterns. The new keywords PATTERN_BITMAP, PATTERN_ORIENTATION, PATTERN_SPACING, and PATTERN_THICK specify the fill pattern.

• Before IDL 8.5, it was possible to have hashes of hashes of hashes, etc., but it was necessary to manually create each level of the hashes. Elements of a hash of a hash were accessed via h['a', 'b'], which was shorthand for (h['a'])['b']. Now it is possible to have IDL automatically create the necessary levels of the hash during a hash assignment:

IDL> h = hash()
IDL> h['a', 'b', 'c'] = 5
IDL> h
{
"a": {
"b": {
"c": 5
}
}
}

• Server-side sockets actually have been present in IDL for awhile, but they are now documented.