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The Really Interactive Data Language (rIDL) provides a command line interface for IDL with more interactive features. Completion on filenames, variables, routines, system variables, reserved words, and executive commands allows users to quickly explore possibilities. rIDL also provides a richer set of other features including output logging and advanced history handling.


The development version of the GNU Readline library is required to be installed before building rIDL. Most UNIX-based system will only have the Readline binaries installed by default.

rIDL uses CMake for its build system. CMake can be installed via your system package management system or downloaded from the CMake website.

In most cases, the only steps for building will be:

cmake .
make install

If you want to install somewhere besides the default location, then the cmake command would look like:

cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=install .

CMake allows the locations of the libraries it needs to be specified also. For example, to specify a different location for Readline:

cmake -DReadline_INCLUDE_DIR=/usr/local/readline/6.1/include \
      -DReadline_LIBRARY=/usr/local/readline/6.1/lib/libreadline.dylib \
      -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=install \

In any case, make install will locate all the files rIDL will need at runtime in the proper relative locations.


After rIDL is built, a few aspects of your environment need to be set for rIDL to work correctly.

The share/idl directory of the installation should in your IDL_PATH. This can also be set via the IDL Workbench preferences or the PREF_SET command, at the user's preference.

Set the RIDL_EDITOR or the EDITOR environment variable to specify the editor to use with the .edit command. For example, under the Bash shell this would be:

export RIDL_EDITOR="emacs -nw"

Optional Makefile targets

There are several optional Makefile targets that can be built from the source.

More useful for end users, the docs target produces a PDF manual and man page for rIDL. If you want the system man command to find your man pages, make sure to add the $INSTALL_DIR/man to the MANPATH environment variable.

Also, the onlinehelp target parses the IDL online help to produce text-based help system from within rIDL. To produce the documentation, use:

make onlinehelp
make install

To test the online help, from the rIDL prompt, try checking the help for an IDL routine with the :help magic command:

rIDL> :help congrid

The apidocs and capidocs targets are primarily for developers of rIDL to create API documentation for the rIDL source code. The apidocs target requires IDLdoc to be installed and in IDL's path; the capidocs target requires Doxygen to be installed.

More Information

See the rIDL Trac site for more information about rIDL.


Really Interactive Data Language








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