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('', 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.