Top positive review
on April 5, 2011
"Traditional IDL Graphics" is a wonderful guide to producing outstanding graphics with the IDL programming language. There are several excellent guides to learning IDL itself, and this book presumes that readers are familiar with the language. What makes this book unique is that it focuses on a single task - producing outstanding graphics, using the traditional tools that have been part of IDL almost from the beginning. As an IDL user for over 20 years, I find myself squarely in the camp of those who have tried all of the more recent graphics innovations in IDL, only to return to the traditional tools for scientific graphics. I find the new tools too slow, too complex, and not well-suited to producing graphics with a repeatable sequence of well-defined steps. But, like many scientific programmers, I get impatient with the fiddling necessary to convert simple plots into publishable figures, and I've never taken the time to think about how to do this easily and efficiently in IDL. David Fanning has spent a quarter of a century learning to do this, and this book is a treasure trove of great ideas, useful examples, and usable code that I wish I'd had for the past two decades. Those of you just learning IDL will benefit tremendously from adopting David's tools that make traditional IDL graphics very powerful and effective. Those of us who have spent decades without the benefit of them can only envy the newbies. This book reminds me of "Numerical Recipes" - when it first came out, all I could think of was that I could have finished my PhD thesis a year earlier if it had only been written a few years earlier. I encourage all serious IDL users to buy and use this book - I've already made it required reading for my research students.