|IDL Reference Guide: Procedures and Functions|
The HELP procedure gives the user information on many aspects of the current IDL session. The specific area for which help is desired is selected by specifying the appropriate keyword. If no arguments or keywords are specified, the default is to show the current nesting of procedures and functions, all current variables at the current program level, and open files. Only one keyword can be specified at a time.
HELP, Expression1, ..., Expressionn [, /BREAKPOINTS] [, /BRIEF] [, /DEVICE] [, /DLM] [, /FILES] [, /FULL] [, /FUNCTIONS] [, /HEAP_VARIABLES] [, /KEYS] [, /LAST_MESSAGE] [, /LEVEL=value] [, /MEMORY] [, /MESSAGES] [, NAMES=string_of_variable_names] [, /OBJECTS] [, OUTPUT=variable] [, /PATH_CACHE] [, /PREFERENCES] [, /PROCEDURES] [, /RECALL_COMMANDS] [, /ROUTINES] [, /SHARED_MEMORY] [, /SOURCE_FILES] [, /STRUCTURES] [, /SYSTEM_VARIABLES] [, /TRACEBACK]
The arguments are interpreted differently depending on the keyword selected. If no keyword is selected, HELP displays basic information for its parameters. For example, to see the type and structure of the variable A, enter:
Note that the use of some of the following keywords causes any arguments to HELP to be ignored and HELP provides other types of information instead. If the description of the keyword does not explicitly mention the arguments, the arguments are ignored.
Set this keyword to display the breakpoint table which shows the program module and location for each breakpoint.
If set in conjunction with one of the following keywords, BRIEF produces very terse summary style output instead of the output normally displayed by those keywords:
Set this keyword to show information about the currently selected graphics device. This information is dependent on the abilities of the current device, but the name of the device is always given. Arguments to HELP are ignored when DEVICE is specified.
Set this keyword to display all known dynamically loadable modules and their state (loaded or not loaded).
Set this keyword to display information about file units. If no arguments are supplied in the call to HELP, information on all open file units (except the special units 0, -1, and -2) is displayed. If arguments are provided, they are taken to be integer file unit numbers, and information on the specified file units is given.
For example, the command:
HELP, /FILES, -2, -1, 0
gives information below about the default file units:
Unit Attributes Name -2 Write, Truncate, Tty, Reserved <stderr> -1 Write, Truncate, Tty, Reserved <stdout> 0 Read, Tty, Reserved <stdin>
The attributes column tells about the characteristics of the file. For instance, the file connected to logical file unit 2 is called "stderr" and is the standard error file. It is opened for write access (Write), is a new file (Truncate), is a terminal (Tty), and cannot be closed by the CLOSE command (Reserved).
By default, HELP filters its output in an attempt to display only the information likely to be of use to the IDL user. The filtering applied depends on the type of information being requested. By default:
COMPILE_OPT HIDDENdirective are not displayed.
Specify the FULL keyword to see all available information on a given topic without any filtering.
Normally, the ROUTINES or SOURCE_FILES keywords produce information on both functions and procedures. If FUNCTIONS is specified, only output on functions is produced. If FUNCTIONS is used without either ROUTINES or SOURCE_FILES, ROUTINES is assumed.
Set this keyword to display help information for all the current heap variables.
Set this keyword to show current function key definitions as set by DEFINE_ KEY. Under UNIX, definitions for those function keys that are currently programmed to perform a function are displayed. Under Windows, definitions for all function keys are displayed. (Under UNIX, use the FULL keyword to display every available key, whether or not it is currently defined.)
If no arguments are supplied, information on all function keys is displayed. If arguments are provided, they must be scalar strings containing the names of function keys, and information on the specified keys is given.
Set this keyword to display the last error message issued by IDL.
By default, HELP displays information for variables in the scope of the currently executing routine. To change this behavior, set this keyword to a scalar integer indicating the scope in which the variables for displaying help should be found. The level value can be either absolute or relative to the current scope, as shown in the following table:
Level 0 always refers to the frame for the currently executing routine
Negative levels are a relative specification and refer to the frames of active routines relative to the currently executing routine. Level -1 is the direct caller of the current routine, -2 is the caller of the caller of the current routine, and so forth. If you specify a level that is deeper than the current call stack, SCOPE_VARFETCH clips the value not to go past $MAIN$.
Positive levels are an absolute specification and refer directly to the specified frame. Level 1 is $MAIN$, level 2 is the routine called from $MAIN$, and so forth. If you specify a level that is past the currently executing routine, SCOPE_VARFETCH clips the value to the level of the current routine.
For more information on scope level, see SCOPE_VARFETCH.
Set this keyword to see a report on the amount of dynamic memory (in bytes) currently in use by the IDL session; the maximum amount of dynamic memory allocated since the last call to HELP, /MEMORY; and the number of times dynamic memory has been allocated and deallocated. Arguments to HELP are ignored when MEMORY is specified.
Set this keyword to display all known message blocks and the error space range into which they are loaded.
A string used to determine the names of the variables whose values are to be printed. A string match (equivalent to the STRMATCH function with the FOLD_CASE keyword set) is used to decide if a given variable will be displayed. The match string can contain any wildcard expression supported by STRMATCH, including "*" and "?".
For example, to print only the values of variables beginning with "A", use the command
HELP, NAMES='a*'. Similarly,
HELP, NAMES='?' prints the values of all variables with a single-character name.
NAMES also works with the output from the following keywords:
Set this keyword to display information on defined object classes. If no arguments are provided, all currently-defined object classes are shown. If no arguments are provided, and the information you are looking for is not displayed, use the FULL keyword to prevent HELP from filtering the output. If arguments are provided, the definition of the object class for the heap variables referred to is displayed.
Information is provided on inherited superclasses and all known methods. A method is known to IDL only if it has been compiled in the current IDL session and called by its own class or a subclass. Methods that have not been compiled yet will not be shown. Thus, the list of methods displayed by HELP is not necessarily a complete list of all possible method for the object class.
If called within a class' method, the OBJECTS keyword also displays the instance data of the object on which it was called.
Set this keyword equal to a named variable that will contain a string array containing the formatted output of the HELP command. Each line of formatted output becomes a single element in the string array.
The OUTPUT keyword is primarily for use in capturing HELP output in order to display it someplace else, such as in a text widget. This keyword is not intended to be used in obtaining programmatic information about the IDL session, and is formatted to be human readable. The format and content of this text is not guaranteed to remain static from release to release and may change at any time, without warning. If you find yourself using OUTPUT for a non-display purpose, consider using the STRUCTURE keyword to the SIZE function.
Set this keyword to display a list of directories currently included in the IDL path cache, along with the number of
.sav files found in those directories. See PATH_CACHE for details.
Set this keyword to display information about the current status of IDL's preferences. IDL preferences are internal values used to configure certain aspects of the IDL environment. They serve as the initial values for many IDL system variables, as well as controlling other aspects of the user's environment.
Used by itself, the PREFERENCES keyword provides the following information:
Use PREFERENCES in conjunction with BRIEF for a terse display of the above. Use it with the FULL keyword in order to see the full information for each preference. In FULL mode, HELP displays the information above, as well as:
Normally, the ROUTINES or SOURCE_FILES keywords produce information on both functions and procedures. If PROCEDURES is specified, only output on procedures is produced. If PROCEDURES is used without either ROUTINES or SOURCE_FILES, ROUTINES is assumed.
Set this keyword to display the saved commands in the command input buffer. By default, IDL saves the last 20 lines of input in a buffer from which they can be recalled for command line editing. Arguments to HELP are ignored when RECALL is specified.
The number of lines saved can be changed by assigning the desired number of lines to the IDL_RBUF_SIZE preference. For more information, see IDL_RBUF_SIZE.
Set this keyword to show a list of all compiled procedures and functions with their parameter names. Keyword parameters accepted by each module are shown to the right of the routine name. If no arguments are provided, and the information you are looking for is not displayed, use the FULL keyword to prevent HELP from filtering the output.
Set this keyword to display information about all current shared memory and memory mapped file segments mapped into the current IDL process via the SHMMAP procedure.
Set this keyword to display information on procedures and functions written in the IDL language that have been compiled during the current IDL session. Full path names (relative to the current directory) of compiled
.pro files are displayed. If no arguments are provided, and the information you are looking for is not displayed, use the FULL keyword to prevent HELP from filtering the output.
Set this keyword to display information on structure-type variables. If no arguments are provided, all currently-defined structures are shown. If no arguments are provided, and the information you are looking for is not displayed, use the FULL keyword to prevent HELP from filtering the output. If arguments are provided, the structure definition for those expressions is displayed. It is often more convenient to use
HELP, /STRUCTURES instead of
Set this keyword to display information on all system variables. Arguments are ignored.
Set this keyword to display the current nesting of procedures and functions.
To see general information on the current IDL session, enter:
To see information on the structure definition of the system variable !D, enter:
HELP, !D, /STRUCTURES
Added SHARED_MEMORY keyword
Added PATH_CACHE keyword
Added LEVEL keyword
Added PREFERENCES keyword
Deprecated ALL_KEYS and CALLS keywords
For information on deprecated keywords, see Obsolete Features.
IDL Online Help (March 06, 2007)