Appendix: Improving window appearance via xdefaults


This page is about an entirely optional and purely cosmetic tweak to the pipeline. Feel free to ignore this page entirely. It only applies to Macs and Linux computers.

../_images/icon_mac2.png ../_images/icon_linux2.png

The graphics windows produced by IDL are pretty basic and dated by modern computing standards. Particularly on Macs and Linux computers running X11, GUI windows are entirely gray on gray. This is kind of boring, and bad from a user interface design standpoint, but we’re mostly stuck with it. IDL does not provide any real ability for programs to control their appearance for instance by adjusting fonts or colors. It just can’t be done from inside IDL code!

However, it is possible to slightly tweak the appearance of IDL graphics windows using an “.Xdefaults” file in your home directory, and get slightly improvements to appearance and legibility.


Above: Default appearance. Click for larger.


Above: Slightly improved appearance. Click for larger.

If you would like this, please create a file .Xdefaults in your home directory, and paste the following text into it:

!---- Customization of Xdefaults values for GPI widgets
!  Purely cosmetic, no functional changes at all!
!  Feel free to tweak and adjust as desired.
!  developed by Marshall Perrin
!  Copy or append this file to your ~/.Xdefaults to install

!-- Launcher and status console --
Idl*GPI_DRP*fontList: *helvetica-bold-r-*--11*
Idl*GPI_DRP*Table*fontList: *helvetica-medium-r-*--10*
Idl*GPI_DRP*XmPushButton*background: lightblue
Idl*GPI_DRP*red_button*background: pink
Idl*GPI_DRP*Status*red_button*background: pink
!Idl*GPI_DRP*background: #E9E9F5

!--- Data Parser ---
Idl*GPI_DRP_Parser*XmCascadeButton*background: lightblue
Idl*GPI_DRP_Parser*XmText*background: #F7F7F0
Idl*GPI_DRP_Parser*XmPushButton*background: #CBE0DF
Idl*GPI_DRP_Parser*red_button*background: pink
!Idl*GPI_DRP_Parser*fontList:  *helvetica-bold-r-*--11*
!Idl*GPI_DRP_Parser*background: #F1E9C8

!--- Recipe Editor ---
Idl*GPI_DRP_RecipeEditor*XmText*background: #F7F7F0
Idl*GPI_DRP_RecipeEditor*XmPushButton*background: #CBE0DF
Idl*GPI_DRP_RecipeEditor*red_button*background: pink
!Idl*GPI_DRP_RecipeEditor*fontList:  *helvetica-bold-r-*--11*
!Idl*GPI_DRP_RecipeEditor*background: #F1E9C8