A Note on Documentation

The IDL 5.1 documentation set consists of the following volumes:
What's New in IDL 5.1 
Using IDL 
External Development Guide (replaces the Advanced Development Guide ) 
Building IDL Applications 
Scientific Data Formats 
IDL Reference Guide (two volumes) 
Using IDL Insight 
Objects and Object Graphics 
IDL DataMiner Guide 

Documentation is provided in the following formats:


If you have just purchased IDL, you will receive a subset of the complete documentation set in printed form with your order. If you are upgrading an existing copy of IDL, you will receive only the What's New in IDL 5.1 volume (this book) in printed form with your order. Additional documentation can be ordered from Research Systems.

Hypertext Online Help

All volumes in the IDL documentation set are available online in hypertext format. You can select any of the above volumes from the "Contents" tab of the IDL Online Help to view the volume on your screen. To start the Online Help from within IDL, select "Contents" from the Help menu of the IDL Development Environment, or enter "?" at the IDL command prompt.

Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) Files

All volumes of the IDL documentation set are available in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF files are located in the docs subdirectory of the info directory on the IDL CD-ROM. You will need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader software (version 3.0 or later) to view the PDF files; the Acrobat Reader is available free from Adobe. Visit the Adobe site on the World Wide Web at www.adobe.com for details.


Descriptions of IDL procedures, functions, objects classes, and object methods are provided in HTML format. The material provided in HTML format corresponds to the contents of the IDL Reference Guide and the reference sections of Objects and Object Graphics , Scientific Data Format s, and the DataMiner Guide .

The HTML files are located in the html subdirectory of the help directory in the IDL distribution. Open the file idl.htm in your web browser to open the HTML help system.