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MPI_Plot Was: Something else


I announced earlier today that Martin and I were making
our program MPI_PLOT available to help users get their
plots configured to their liking. The software was not
out there for 10 minutes before the whini... excuse me,
before the comments started coming in. Thank you. :-)

So, of course there is already an upgrade available.
(There really are some advantages to free software.)
The latest version of the software is available as
a zip file from here:


The latest update addresses two concerns. First, 
people wanted a way to "save" the plot configuration,
so it could be used with subsequent plots. I've implemented
this in a fairly limited way for now. (Check back tomorrow
for a full solution. The chances are good I'll lose my
tennis match tonight and be up until the wee hours feeling
sorry for myself and writing programs.) For now, users
can use a KEYWORDS keyword to assign a variable to accept
the PLOT keywords MPI_PLOT is using to create the plot
in the display window. Something like this:

   IDL> MPI_PLOT, data, KEYWORDS=pkeywords
   IDL> PLOT, moredata, _Extra=pkeywords

Used in this way, MPI_PLOT is sort of a "master plot"
configuration application. (Getting the kind of plot
MPI_PLOT produces is slightly more complicated than
this, but the code is exposed for all to see, and it
is explained in the internal documentation for the program.)

What you may notice, which is way cool in my opinion, is
that the variable "pkeywords" is *continuously* updated
by the MPI_PLOT program. In other words, if you make
a change in the MPI_PLOT configuration, your variable
immediately knows about it at the IDL command line.
You understand, right, that MPI_PLOT is a non-blocking
widget that is sitting on your display and you can change
the configuration whenever you like. So, don't even ask 
me how this is done. (I'll give you a clue, it has
*nothing* to do with common blocks.) Just think of it 
as total IDL magic. :-)

The second feature asked for was PostScript output. So,
all right, I added a PostScript option to the Save button.
I'll warn you right now, though, that what you are likely
to see in the PostScript file is *exactly* what you see
in the display window. Again, don't ask. It's how I make
my living and I'm not giving these secrets away for free!

And while I was doing this, I decided what the heck, I'd
even improve the PRINT capability so that I can print
the darn thing on either my B&W Lexmark laser printer, or
my nifty HP 970Cse color printer.

So, there you go. Martin will be happy to take other
comments. (I guess Martin has had some kind of object
epiphany today, if I read my recent e-mail from him
correctly. I have a feeling he is far beyond IDL PLOT 
commands. :-(


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