For links to What's New information for other IDL 8.x releases, go to See Also.



By default, antialiasing is now used when drawing all lines, polygons, shapes, contours, and surface lines in Graphics. The ANTIALIAS property can be used to turn off the default behavior.

A new ANTIALIAS property has also been added to IDLgrPolygon and IDLgrSurface. The default value for IDLgrPolygon and IDLgrSurface objects is 0.

Colorbar and Legend

You can now insert a colorbar and a legend from the toolbar in a Graphics window.

Color Tables

  • Custom color tables can now be created using the COLORTABLE function.
  • Additional color tables based on ColorBrewer schemes are available.

Graphics Event Handler

You can now easily override the default event-handling behavior on graphics windows. The new EVENT_HANDLER property lets you pass in an object reference to an IDL class that can implement the following methods: ::MouseDown, ::MouseUp, ::MouseMotion, ::MouseWheel, ::KeyHandler, and ::SelectChange. When one of these events is received by the graphics window, the appropriate method is called on your object first. Your object can then perform any necessary actions, and then return either 1 to continue processing the event, or 0 to swallow the event. The EVENT_HANDLER property is available on both the WINDOW object and the WIDGET_WINDOW function. See Creating an Event Handler Class to Control Events for details on how to write this object class.


With the HISTOGRAM property, the PLOT function can now display data in a histogram style, with horizontal and vertical lines connecting each point. For example:

a = findgen(11)
b = 20./(a+1)^2
p1 = PLOT(a, b, '4', /HISTOGRAM, NAME='Theoretical', $
  /YLOG, YRANGE=[0.01,100])
p2 = PLOT(RANDOMU(-1, 11), '4r', NAME='Experimental', $

See PLOT for more information.

Multiple Plot Layout

When displaying multiple plots in a window, IDL now automatically calculates margins. You can specify just the order of the plots using the LAYOUT keyword, rather than specifying exact locations using POSITION, as shown below:

fn = exp(SIN(FINDGEN(100))^FINDGEN(100))
w1 = WINDOW()
p1 = PLOT(fn, LAYOUT = [1, 2, 1], /CURRENT, TITLE = '1')
p2 = PLOT(fn, LAYOUT = [2, 2, 3], xrange=[25, 42], /CURRENT, TITLE = '2')
p3 = PLOT(fn, LAYOUT = [2, 2, 4], xrange=[50, 60], /CURRENT, TITLE = '3')


The next example displays several plots in a 3x3 matrix in a single window:


w2 = WINDOW(DIMENSIONS=[1200,900])
p = PLOT(/test, LAYOUT=[3, 3, 1], /CURRENT, COLOR='Dark Violet',  TITLE = '1')
p = PLOT(/test, LAYOUT=[3, 3, 2], /CURRENT, COLOR='Dark Orange',  TITLE = '2')
p = PLOT(/test, LAYOUT=[3, 3, 3], /CURRENT, COLOR='Cornflower',  TITLE = '3')
p = PLOT(SQRT(FINDGEN(100)), LAYOUT = [1, 3, 2], COLOR='Lime', /CURRENT, TITLE = '4')
p = PLOT(SIN(FINDGEN(100)), LAYOUT = [3, 3, 7], COLOR='Red', /CURRENT, TITLE = '5')
p = PLOT(SIN(FINDGEN(100)), LAYOUT = [3, 3, 8], COLOR='Dodger Blue', /CURRENT, TITLE = '6')
p = PLOT(SIN(FINDGEN(100)), LAYOUT = [3, 3, 9], COLOR='Forest Green', /CURRENT, TITLE = '7')

Miscellaneous Graphics Changes

  • Tick Format - The AXIS_STYLE "exponent" value is now available to show exponential notation in plots.
  • Abbreviated Keywords - IDL Graphics keywords can be abbreviated.
  • POLYGON - Added the RGB_TABLE and VERT_COLORS properties to POLYGON
  • NCDF_CREATE - Added of the NETCDF3_64BIT keyword to NCDF_CREATE


  • Combobox - New LIST_EVENTS keyword allows events to be generated when using the arrow keys to navigate combobox items.
  • Table Cell Events - On Windows platforms, the ALL_EVENTS keyword now works as it does in UNIX platforms, returning cell events with keyboard arrow navigation.
  • Tree Scrolling - Tree widgets can be scrolled using a mouse scroll wheel on UNIX as well as on Windows platforms.


Class Hierarchy Browser

The Class Hierarchy browser is a view that displays the structure of the object hierarchy. To expose this feature, select Window > Class Hierarchy.


Macros is a menu option now available in the IDL Workbench. Macros allow you to assign IDL code to icons and keyboard shortcuts. You can use macros for tasks that you repeat often or want to simplify. When you add custom macros, you can define:

  • The IDL code that the macro runs
  • The macro name and menu label
  • An icon to display on the macro toolbar
  • A custom tooltip to display on the toolbar icon
  • A keyboard shortcut to run the macro


The IDLffJPEG2000 object has a new GML_ROOT_INSTANCE property that provides georeferencing information for JPEG2000 files.

Proleptic Gregorian Calendar

The JUL2GREG and GREG2JUL routines let you convert from Julian dates to the proleptic Gregorian calendar and vice versa. The proleptic Gregorian calendar is produced by extending the Gregorian calendar backwards to dates preceding its introduction in 1582. In the proleptic Gregorian calendar, there are no missing days in October 1582, every 4 years is a leap year, except if the year ends in a "00" then it is not a leap year, unless it is also divisible by 400 (in which case it is a leap year).

The proleptic Gregorian calendar is usually required for information exchange between international partners, as defined by ISO 8601:2004 (clause 3.2.1). The proleptic Gregorian calendar is not used by astronomers, who instead use the Julian Day Number, as given by the JULDAY function.