What is IDL?

IDL (Interactive Data Language) is a development environment for the analysis and visualization of scientific data. The user uses an easy to learn programming language either interactively or in batch mode. Key aspects of the IDL interpreter language are dynamic data types, array operations, widgets for interactive applications and extensibility through Fortran or C++ programming.

A frequent field of application of IDL is image processing, often in earth sciences or astronomy. For example, NASA provides the "IDL Astronomy User's Library" based on IDL, which has certainly contributed to the software's popularity.

Data formats

IDL can read various common image formats, as well as CDF, netCDF and HDF. See the original documentation for details.

IDL on LRZ computers

IDL is installed on the nodes of the Linux cluster. Before the call, the corresponding module must be loaded. (The $ character symbolizes the Linux prompt and is not to be entered):

$ module load idl

After that you can either start the graphical development environment with


or just the interpreter with



Information on IDL can be found, for example, in the manufacturer documentation at https://www.harrisgeospatial.com/docs/home.html.



In case of problems with the call of IDL please contact Jutta Dreer (Dreer_AT_lrz_PUNKT_en) or describe your problem via the service desk of the LRZ at https://servicedesk.lrz.de/de.

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