IDL is the trusted scientific programming language used across disciplines to extract meaningful visualizations from complex numerical data. With IDL you can interpret your data, expedite discoveries, and deliver powerful applications to market.


     + The language.

     + Graphics.

     + Development Enviroment.

     + Modules

1. The language: 

IDL is the programming language of choice for many scientists and engineers because it’s easy to learn, easy to use, and requires fewer lines of code than other programming languages, making it easier and faster to go from data to discovery.

  • A MODERN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE: The dynamically typed nature of IDL gives you more flexibility in your programming than a static language, saving you valuable time and allowing you to focus on data analysis and visualization, rather than on programming details. Because the IDL language is based on intuitive and easy-to-learn rules and conventions, you can create visualization programs and even full-blown applications with fewer lines of code. With an extensive library of prebuilt analysis and visualization routines, IDL is the choice for programmers of any experience level.
  • EASILY INTEGRATES WITH OTHER APPLICATIONS: IDL is a flexible and extensible visualization, analysis, and development environment that easily integrates with the other software tools you use. IDL provides a host of ways to import code and functionality from other programming languages and advanced methods for exporting IDL capabilities to your applications written in other languages.
  •  ACCESS VIRTUALLY ANY TYPE OF DATA: IDL provides built-in support for the data sources, data types, file formats, and file sizes you use. Receive data from remote servers or write files to a disk at a remote location using common protocols. IDL acts as a client to HTTP and FTP servers, and provides access to common Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) servers such as Web Map Service (WMS) and Web Coverage Service (WCS).


Produce insightful graphical visualizations of your complex numerical data quickly and easily with the IDL graphics system. With its intuitive syntax, the IDL graphics system gives you the flexibility to create high-quality graphic visualizations to help interpret your data and share results with colleagues.

  • EASILY CREATE PRESENTATION-QUALITY GRAPHICS: The scriptable nature of IDL makes it easy to quickly create powerful graphic visualizations, ranging from 2D plots, contours, maps, and image displays to complex, interactive 3D representations. The powerful IDL graphics engine leverages OpenGL hardware acceleration for rapid rendering. This means IDL can efficiently handle large data sets and output the graphics you need.

  • CUSTOMIZE INDIVIDUAL GRAPHIC ATTRIBUTES: The interactive IDL graphics system allows you to customize how your graphics look. Whether you need to include multibyte characters (Japanese, Chinese, or Korean) or include TeX-like formatting for math and Greek annotations, IDL is suitable for creating graphics for office presentations or international publications. While other programming languages require you to reprogram or regenerate results to make a change, with IDL you can modify line styles, symbols, annotation, font style, and color on the fly.
  • OUTPUT TO VIRTUALLY ANY IMAGE FILE FORMAT: Programmatically or interactively output to a variety of standard image formats, like GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, EPS etc. or import graphics into PowerPoint, Keynote, or HTML presentations. Additionally, graphics can be output to PostScript or PDF for inclusion in a journal article, LaTeX, or Word Document. With so many standardized output options, you can easily share your findings with colleagues for review, secondary analysis, or a verification study.


The IDL development environment provides an intuitive, modern code interface that enables you to quickly create programs and build applications.

  • INTUITIVE INTERFACE: IDL provides an intuitive interface that allows you to focus on analysis with user-friendly features like an easy-access toolbar that includes buttons for your most used programming tools.
  • ROBUST HELP SYSTEM: IDL Help is an example-based system that helps you solve specific tasks. Thumbnail examples, text links, and a visual navigation paradigm all make finding help for your problems fast and easy.


  • Math & Stats – Advanced Math & Stats Module: Quickly add advanced mathematical and statistical functionality to an IDL application with the IDL Advanced Math and Stats Module. This add-on solution combines advanced data visualization and analysis capabilities with the comprehensive mathematical and statistical routines of the IMSL™ C Numerical Library — a set of pre-written mathematical and statistical algorithms that can be embedded into your program. The IDL Advanced Math and Stats Module gives you the ability to directly access nearly 200 proven algorithms and routines from within the IDL environment. Additionally, you can easily call these mathematical and statistical functions from new or existing IDL applications and immediately visualize the results.
  • Dataminer – IDL Dataminer Module: IDL Dataminer is an easy-to-use add-on module to IDL that provides the technology you need for accessing, querying and editing information from common databases, including Oracle, Sybase, MySQL and more. IDL Dataminer makes IDL an even more convenient, flexible tool for scientists, engineers and application developers who do not have the time or expertise to write their own database access routines. Yet it is still advanced enough for power users to design their own SQL queries.

    This ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) compliant module is an off-the-shelf solution with pre-made routines for calling databases. Now you can get the data you need, regardless of your experience level with ODBC or SQL queries.

    • Retrieve the data you need without interrupting your IDL
    • Create, delete, query tables
    • Access, analyze, and visualize data using one tool
    • Query and edit information from multiple databases simultaneously
    • Automatically convert records to IDL data types
    • Use a consistent API across platforms – Works with Windows and Unix
  • Vertual Machine – IDL Virtual Machine: The IDL Virtual Machine (IDL VM) is designed to provide IDL users with a simple, no-cost method for distributing IDL applications. This execution mode of IDL allows you to easily distribute IDL application SAVE files to your colleagues or your customers, without requiring them to own an IDL runtime license.*You can obtain a copy of IDL to run your IDL VM application by contacting Harris Geospatial Solutions Technical Support or your local IDL distributor: Contact Us. In some cases, the provider of an IDL VM application may also provide their own custom distribution of IDL to use with their application.
  • IDL DICOM/Medical Solutions: IDL has played an integral part in medical imaging technology, beginning with analysis and visualization solutions for some of the first imaging modalities, and continuing with advancements today. Sophisticated software solutions developed with IDL are packaged with leading medical imaging instruments, including PET, CT, ultrasound, and MRI. Programming flexibility and advanced visualization and analysis capabilities have allowed IDL to play an integral role in medical research advances by the world’s foremost laboratories and hospitals. As a medical imaging professional, DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) provides a standardized data management approach for today’s medical imaging workflow, where images and data can be exchanged across hospitals or clinics, or around the world in a consistent manner. IDL offers an off-the-shelf solution that not only supports medical standards, but that also meets your medical image analysis and software development needs. IDL offers everything you need for medical image visualization and analysis – a dynamic programming environment for application development, high-end image processing functionality, and robust, DICOM specific modules that integrate seamlessly with your current workflow. With two add-on modules available to suit your needs – the IDL DICOM Toolkit and the IDL DICOM Network Services Module – IDL is your DICOM solution. So, whether you need to simply read and write DICOM files, or you need to add advanced network access, IDL gives you the functionality you need.


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