New version accelerates data analysis, visualization and cross-platform application development.

Research Systems Inc. (RSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastman Kodak Company, announced that it plans to release IDL version 6.0 in July 2003. This major product release offers significant enhancements in the areas of flexibility and ease-of-use to complement IDL's strong foundation.

"Current IDL users and those new to IDL will immediately accelerate data analysis, visualization and application development with IDL 6.0," said Richard Cooke, CEO of RSI.

Among the new features in IDL 6.0 are:

  • Intelligent Tools (iTools)
    ITools is a new set of interactive utilities that gives IDL users the power to quickly and easily perform ad hoc data analysis and visualization and produce stunning, presentation-quality graphics. Based on the robust Object Graphics system, iTools helps IDL users get the most out of their data with minimal effort.

    "Using the new iTools, IDL users can continue to benefit from the control of a programming language, while enjoying the convenience of a point-and-click environment," said Stephanie Staley, IDL technical product manager. "IDL programmers can also leverage and customize these flexible tools in their own IDL applications," she added.

    Kirk Benell, chief technologist at RSI, emphasized, "iTools represents the start of a new, updated display paradigm for IDL because it allows users with little or no knowledge of IDL programming language to open, analyze and visualize complex data."

    Rick Towler, a research consultant for the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, uses IDL primarily for visualizing fisheries acoustics data. As a beta tester for IDL 6.0, Rick and his students find iTools to be particularly valuable for analyzing complex data. "I immediately realized the value of iTools in enabling new or casual users of IDL to 'get into' their data quickly and easily. I work with students every day and I'm familiar with the analysis packages they use and what they are looking for. iTools fits right in," said Towler.

  • IDL-Java Bridge
    IDL-Java Bridge is a built-in feature that allows IDL users to tie Java classes into their IDL applications to take advantage of special input/output, networking and third-party functionality. "IDL-Java Bridge is one more way IDL users can easily integrate IDL with other software technologies," Staley said. IDL-Java Bridge is supported on Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X.
  • Other Enhancements
    Developers familiar with the popular C programming language will especially like the new language enhancements for more intuitive programming. These include increment and decrement operators, compound assignment operators and logical operators. In addition to being succinct, these new operators make more efficient use of memory, helping programmers write both faster and more streamlined code.

    Developers will also appreciate "path caching," a technique added to IDL 6.0 to significantly boost the startup speed of large IDL programs.

  • IDL Virtual Machine (IDL VM)
    In addition, all new IDL 6.0 packages will include IDL VM; a free runtime utility that provides a simple, no-cost method for IDL users and software developers to distribute compiled IDL code. (See related news on IDL VM, also issued today.) IDL VM is supported on all IDL platforms and augments the existing distribution options offered by RSI.

    According to Jim Kelley, vice president of product marketing for IDL and ENVI, "IDL VM will greatly facilitate collaboration and code sharing in the worldwide IDL user community, giving researchers, scientists, engineers, and other technical professionals a simple and fast way to share applications powered by IDL."

    RSI released IDL 6.0 to beta testers in May 2003.