IDL 8.1 was released last week during VISualize. This caught me a bit by surprise, but I will do a few posts on 8.1 features in the coming weeks. Here are the basic features:

1. ``IDLffVideoWrite`` class for high-quality video output in either mp4 or avi files. This uses the FFmpeg library.
2. There are now keywords to set event handlers for specific types of events in a new graphic or ``WIDGET_WINDOW`` window.
3. Added methods for new graphics programmatic API.
4. Extended longitudes and high-resolution shorelines in MAP using GSHHS map database.
5. New methods for ``List`` and ``Hash`` classes: ``::isEmpty``, ``::count``, and ``::findValue`` (like ``WHERE``).
6. GRIB read and write programmatic API (containing 38 ``GRIB_*`` routines) for UNIX and Mac OS X only.
7. KML/KMZ output options in new graphics ``MAP`` function.
8. Workbench now comes with source control plugins for git, Subversion, CVS, and Perforce.

There are more features, so check the "What's New" for more details.