[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Top 10 for old farts

Joseph B. Gurman (gurman@gsfc.nasa.gov) writes:

>     So I still propose that as long as there are lower-priced, 
> full-featured student licenses, there should be lower-priced, 
> fewer-featured research associates' licenses. The "pro" license can 
> include all the wonderful features those with time to use them 
> efficiently want.
>     Seriously (once again), it would be nice to be able to pay for a 
> base license, and add on, at extra cost:
> 1. objects
> 2. QuickTime support (per codec)
> 3. other features requiring RSI to pay license fees (GIF?)

I suppose it is inevitable, as IDL grows ever larger, that
we begin to pay for add-ons. RSI has already taken this 
course with DataMiner and the Wavelet Toolkit. But I am
dead set against this proposal, Joe.

First of all, objects are integral to the programming
language. There will always be a few of us old scientists
who find it more pleasurable to write programs than to
spend yet one more bleary-eyed night peering through
the peep-hole of a telescope. (Maybe this is all done
through a computer with IDL programs these days, for all
I know.) It would be a shame if people couldn't use the
programs we write.

In fact, I haven't written a program for a client in the
past year that hasn't included at least one object,
and sometimes it's easier to write the whole thing as
an object. PSCONFIG, a program on my web page that is 
widely downloaded and praised by people who use it, is
an object program, although I would guess 95% of the 
people who use it don't know that. Certainly most of
the programs I add to my library in the future will
be object programs, although I'm not fool enough to
tell anyone that, since just the word itself is enough
to send shivers up the backs of many IDL users. :-)

I've frankly pretty much given up the idea of writing
an object book because (1) it is so damn hard to write
a book, and (2) after going to all that trouble I thought
only about a dozen people would buy it. (And I will hear
from all 12 today, probably, pleading with me to reconsider,
so desperate is the need for decent documentation.)

The lack of good instruction is probably what is holding
the adoption of objects back. I know you say you don't
need them. The people in my course last week were adamant
that they didn't need to know any widget programming, too.
But in the end all they cared about was widget programming
and increased interactivity with their data. I submit that
objects have the same ability to transform how we work
with our data.

Yes, there is more up-front cost. And I'm completely
sympathetic with those scientists who feel they don't
have time to figure it out. If objects are unfamiliar
to you, it is just about impossible to learn about them
from the material that RSI gives you. But in the end
they do more for your science than what you are using
now. That must be the bottom line. Someday, inevitably,
you are going to be working with objects. Maybe you
won't write them. But you sure as heck don't want to
pay extra for them, either.



David Fanning, Ph.D.
Fanning Software Consulting
Phone: 970-221-0438 E-Mail: davidf@dfanning.com
Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming: http://www.dfanning.com/
Toll-Free IDL Book Orders: 1-888-461-0155