Monday, January 21, 2008
IDLWAVE is an add-on mode for GNU Emacs and XEmacs that enables feature-rich development and interaction with IDL. For more information on IDLWAVE, visit http://idlwave.org.
IDL 7.0 implements a new online help system that is not compatible with IDLWAVE versions 6.1 and earlier. You have the following options if you want to use IDLWAVE with IDL 7.0:
Forego the use of the IDL help system when using IDLWAVE. If you do not use the IDLWAVE online help features, you can install and use IDLWAVE with IDL 7.0 as described on the IDLWAVE web site.
Create a "hybrid help distribution" consisting of content included with IDL 6.4 and IDL 7.0. If you choose to create a hybrid help distribution, IDL will use the IDL 7.0 help system when help content is requested from the IDL Workbench, from the IDL 7.0 command line, or via the 'idlhelp' command. IDL will use the IDL 6.4 help system when help content is requested from an Emacs session using IDLWAVE.
The discussion below details the steps for configuring this hybrid help system.
We should begin with a word of Caution!!! Creating a hybrid help distribution involves having two complete copies of the IDL help content in your IDL distribution. Help content consumes approximately 100Mbytes of disk space.
To create a hybrid help distribution:
If you have IDL 6.4 installed locally:
Copy the entire 'online_help' directory tree in '[IDL_64_DIR]/help/' into '[IDL_70_DIR]/help/'.
If you are on a Linux, Solaris, or Macintosh system, copy the '[IDL_64_DIR]/bin/idl_assistant' file to the '[IDL_70_DIR]/bin/' directory. Make sure the file has execute permission. (If you are on a Windows system, skip this step.)
If you do not have access to an IDL 6.4 installation:
Download the 'IDL64_online_help.zip' archive (44 MB).
Unpack the archive into the '[IDL_70_DIR]/help/' directory. On a Linux, Solaris, or Macintosh system, use the "unzip" command. On a Windows system, use the built-in compressed folder utility or another file compression tool such as WinZip. You should end up with an 'online_help' subdirectory and the 'idl_assistant' file in your '[IDL_70_DIR]/help/' directory.
If you are on a Linux, Solaris, or Macintosh system, copy the 'help/idl_assistant' file to the '[IDL_70_DIR]/bin/' directory. Make sure the file has execute permission. (If you are on a Windows system, skip this step.)
Note: See the IDLWAVE documentation for details on configuring IDLWAVE to use the IDL help content.
But wait! Won't my IDL documentation be out of date?
Yes, it's true that when using IDLWAVE with IDL 7.0, you'll still be seeing the IDL 6.4 help content. While this is not optimal, it is also not as poor a solution as it might seem at first glance. The great majority of the development work that went into IDL 7.0 was focused on the new IDL Workbench interface; documentation for the Workbench features will not come into play while you are using IDLWAVE. You will need to use the IDL 7.0 help system to read documentation for new routines, but these comprise a very small part of the IDL documentation set. Using a hybrid help system to link IDL 7.0 and IDLWAVE allows you to continue using IDLWAVE and the help system if you have upgraded to IDL 7.0, and gives both the IDL development team and the maintainers of IDLWAVE mode time to work on re-integrating the two.
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