Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming

IDL Suddenly Crashing

QUESTION: Yikes, yesterday my IDL 7 worked perfectly. Today the darn thing won't start at all. What happened!? I've re-installed IDL and that didn't fix a thing. Do you have any ideas? I'm running IDL on a Windows XP computer.

ANSWER: Well, a lot of things could have happened. Two things that immediately come to mind are software updates and driver updates. But, assuming neither of those things have happened, and that you have cleaned your registry in the past five minutes or so with a registry cleaner such as Registry Mechanic, this problem is not unknown in the IDL world.

In fact, it could be due to a corrupted (and apparently secret!) IDL workbench file that is still hanging out and does not get deleted even when you uninstall and reinstall IDL. On Windows machines this pernicious file is stored in the C:\Documents and Settings\YourName\.idl directory, where YourName is your log-on name. It is stored here no matter where you have actually installed IDL. On UNIX systems, the directory is also named .idl, and it is stored in your home directory.

Depending upon how long it has taken you to get to this directory, you may feel like tossing the whole damn thing. Please. Take a deep breath. There is a good chance it is only the Workbench configuration files that are corrupted. You will find these files in a directory that will have a name something like this.


Simply removing or deleting this directory often solves your problems, although at the cost of having to reconfigure the IDL Workbench, since all the Workbench configuration files live in this directory. (See the related article IDL Path Problem from Hell.)

If you have tried everything else, and you figure "What the heck, two hours reconfiguring my Workbench looks like a bargain," then I'd go for it. (Some of us have done this so often that reconfiguring the Workbench is, like, a 10 minute job now!) If worse comes to worst, and you have hit the Delete key violently enough, at least you have had the satisfaction of releasing some of your justified frustration.

Version of IDL used to prepare this article: IDL 7.0.3.

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