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Re: IDL 5.2 reviews?

davidf@dfanning.com (David Fanning) writes:

> Gwyn Fireman (fireman@magictrick.gsfc.nasa.gov) writes:
> > Now that IDL 5.2 has been offically announced, I'm being asked if we
> > should upgrade.  I have what RSI sent, and the press release - where
> > can I get more information?
> I will say this about IDL 5.2 (whether I am suppose to
> or not): if you work for NASA and you don't get this
> upgrade you must be working in the backwaters and are
> about to lose your funding. If this upgrade is not named
> the "NASA upgrade" internally, then it ought to be. I can't
> imagine a group of people better suited to using its new
> functionality. Consider just file formats for a moment: TIFF++,
> GeoTIFF, PNG, HDF+, HDF-EOS. That list, along with unsigned
> integers, has to have NASA types drooling. :-)

Well, speaking as an ex-NASA postdoc, yes, having those file formats
is terrific but RSI had better watch the cost, especially for the
small-time Unix users.  I had some serious problems convincing my boss
to go for the upgrade to v5, and many new Unix workstations are now
IDL-free, at least where I was.  When the cost of a new IDL license is
50% of the workstation cost, leaving it off starts sounding better and

This doesn't really affect places where there is a "systems group"
that handles computer purchases and that ensures that all is well.
But at least in the research groups, more and more computers are
bought simply on research grants that have finite budgets.  And these
research groups eventually propose the multi-million dollar projects
that buy IDL as a matter of course.  Unless, of course, the underlying
research group couldn't afford IDL before, and so nobody bothers to
buy it now.  It's a slow-brewing problem, though--one that won't show
it's head until it's too late to do anything.

Randall Smith