Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming

Adding Subversion Control to IDL

QUESTION: Well, IDL 7 has arrived, and I guess I am old-school, because I'm extremely confused. I am trying to understand how to incorporate my present way of working with IDL into the new IDL Workbench (Eclipse-based) paradigm, which is based on projects. While I am doing that, I would like to add a version control system so I can manage my IDL program files better. I've heard Subversion is the way to go and that there are Subversion plug-ins to Eclipse that will enable me to do this. I've spent three days on this so far, and I've yet to write a line of IDL code. Did I bite off more than I can chew?

Confused Curmudgeon

ANSWER: Not at all. This is easy! (Well, if you believe the marketing hype, anyway.)

In practice, I've found it more difficult, but then I'm really old-school and still have to get one of the kids to program new numbers into my cell phone.

In truth, once you have spent a week or so figuring out how it works, it's not that hard. Of course, it helps to download the right software, understand how to set it up, and then know how to access the functionality from within IDL. And none of these things are spelled out for you. That makes it harder. (It seems to me if you are under the age of 25 knowledge of these things is programmed directly onto the computer chip your parents inserted into your earlobe. iPod electronics picks up the signal and converts it into something resembling English.)

If you are working on a Windows XP computer, I can certainly help with the right software. I would get the Subversion Windows binaries you need, the TortoiseSVN front-end to greatly aid setting up the Subversion repository, and the Subclipse IDL plug-in that will allow you to work with the Subversion repository from within IDL. But setting up your IDL Workspace and getting everything configured correctly is practically a book in itself. (At least it appeared so when I looked at my notes.)

I haven't written a book, exactly, but I have written a 20+ page IDL/Subversion Set-Up Guide that takes you step-by-step through the process of setting up your current IDL workspace to accommodate Eclipse-based projects, and to install and work with the Subversion version control system from within IDL. All of this information was gleaned from hard-won personal experience. (I think I have done this every possible wrong way in the past 10 days!) This is the information I wish someone had given me before I set out on this journey. The software information is currently specific to a Windows XP computer, but the information about the Subclipse plug-in and how to set up and work with projects and Subversion from within IDL is completely generic. Have a look. I think it will save you hours of frustration.

Note that I am trying to write a similar guide for IDL 8.1, but I haven't successfully accomplished the feat yet.

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