IDL Tutorial 2: Plots and Output Files for Making Hardcopies .. Hence, you need to first start the PS device using the set_plot command, and then use the. SET_PLOT, ‘PS’. This causes IDL to use the PostScript driver for producing graphical output. Once the PostScript driver is enabled via SET_PLOT, the DEVICE. IDL treats the screen as one device and a postscript file (which you can print) as another. You can switch devices with the set_plot command.

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Keyword parameters control how the color tables are transferred to the newly selected graphics device.

A scalar string containing the name of the device to use. The case of Device is ignored by IDL. Set this keyword to copy the device’s color table from the internal color table, preserving the current color mapping.

The PostScript Device

The default is not to load the color table upon selection. Set this keyword to indicate set_ploh the current contents of the internal color table should be interpolated to cover the range of the newly-selected device.


Otherwise, the internal color tables are not changed. Because devices have differing capabilities and not all are capable of representing the same number of colors, the treatment of color tables when switching devices is somewhat tricky. It sets the read-only system variable! D to reflect the configuration of the new device.

It sets the default color! COLOR to the maximum color index minus one or, in the case udl devices with white backgrounds, such as PostScript, to 0 black. If the new device’s color tables contain more indices than those of the old device, the new device’s tables are not completely filled.

The default is to do nothing. If the COPY keyword parameter is set, the internal color tables are set_polt into the device. This is straightforward if both devices have the same number of color indices. If the new device has more colors than the old device, some color indices will be invalid.


If the new device has less colors than the old, not all the colors are saved. This is the preferred method if you are displaying graphics and each color index is explicitly loaded.

This method works best when displaying images with continuous color ranges. Any routines that rely on data coordinates should not be called until a new data coordinate system has been established.

Creating PDF Files in IDL

Be careful when switching devices as the dil of color indices frequently differs between devices. When in doubt, reload the color table of the new device explicitly. Assuming that the previously-selected device’s color table contains M elements, and the new device’s color table contains N elements, then the minimum of M and N elements are loaded.