Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming

A Warm and Fuzzy Tip for the IDL Workbench

QUESTION: I'll be honest with you, this IDL Workbench is driving me nuts. Do you have a tip that might give me a warm and fuzzy feeling for the IDL Workbench? Or, at the very least, give me some reason to think this is an improvement over what it replaced?

ANSWER: Whoa! I'm a techincal support guy, not a magician. But I do have a tip for you that changed my own growing hostility toward the Workbench into something like grudging acceptance. I got this from Mike Galloy. Ready?

Don't ever use anything but the Debug Perspective in the Workbench.

No, seriously, that's it. That's the tip. Don't ever use anything but the Debug Perspective in the Workbench. If you are anything like me, it will change the whole way you think about the Workbench. You won't be wondering where the devil your window has gone, you won't be answering stupid pop-up dialog questions when your program causes an error. Everything will work pretty good.

Just a couple of things. You will probably have to get a couple of views that you really want from the Window -> Show View menu to include in the Debug Perspective. The Project Explorer window is certainly one of them. You can find it under Window -> Show View -> Others -> General. And be absolutely sure your Perspective has a Debug and Problems view. You won't use these, to be sure, but be sure they are there or you will get a JAVA error message when starting IDL. Make them as small as you like, off to the side somewhere. Think of them as a real-estate tax, if you like.

Those windows (IDL calls them views) move around. Don't be afraid to experiment. In just a couple of hours you can get something that works for you. Here is what my setup looks like.

The IDL Workbench in Debug Mode
The IDL Workbench set up in the only Perspective you will ever need to use.

Version of IDL used to prepare this article: IDL 7.0.1.

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