Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming

Creating IDL Executable Files

QUESTION: Can I create an IDL executable file?

ANSWER: The short answer is, "No".

At least not in the sense that you can make an executable file in C or FORTRAN and give it to your friends to run without IDL. 1

It is possible to make what "appear" to be executable files to the user. For example, you can use IDL run-time licenses that allow the user to run a specific IDL application without having access to the IDL command line. (ENVI with a run-time license is a good example of a program like this.)

You can also have Research Systems "embed" IDL in your application. This is more of a true IDL exectutable.

Both of these methods are generally considered (I think this is a true statement) ridiculously expensive, especially if you want to make an executable in a quantity of, say, less than 100. (A single run-time license in the US, for example, will be in the $300-$900 range.)

For details on run-time or embedded IDL licensing, contact your IDL sales representative.

1 Note that with IDL 6.0, Research Systems has introduced the IDL Virtual Machine. The Virtual Machine can be downloaded by anyone and can be used to execute an IDL save file. This is as close as we are likely to get to an IDL executable file. There are some limitations with the Virtual Machine. For example, a splash screen is always shown at start-up. The user is required to acknowledge the start-up screen before your program will run. And the save file cannot contain an EXECUTE command. If you can live with those limitations, the Virtual Machine can be an interesting way to distribute your applications.

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