In conclusion, I think IDL 8.0 has a wealth of new features beginning the transition to a more modern programing language. These changes are not without risk: there are a few changes that might affect poorly written code (which we all have either used or written). But there are some compelling features (I’m thinking about lists/hashes, the new graphics API, and operator overloading) and many small extremely useful features that encourage updating to IDL 8.0. My main question is when have a sufficient number of users upgraded to 8.0 so I can begin using these features in code I release? Hopefully soon.

Finally, what new features is IDL still lacking to be considered a truly modern scientific programming language? I’ll have to give this some thought, but feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

As a reference to get all them all listed in a single place, the IDL 8.0 related posts discuss lists and hashes, online help, IDL Workbench changes, distribution/licensing changes, operator overloading, other language changes, and new graphics interface. Also, note that Paulo Penteado updated his MAKE_RT über-installation to IDL 8.0. These articles are not intended to be a complete reference to all the new changes; for more information check out the IDL 8.0 webinar and, of course, the “What’s New” section of the online documentation.