Yo Ho, the Timing’s Right for Me

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Today’s post is part of a series exploring areas of focus and innovation for NI software.

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Today’s Featured Author

Jeff Phillips considers LabVIEW as essential to his day as food, water, and oxygen. As senior group manager for LabVIEW product marketing at NI, Jeff focuses on how LabVIEW can meet the changing needs of users. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheLabVIEWLion.




This past Saturday, I was watching the Disney Junior television series Jake and the Never Land Pirates with my daughter. After 473 straight episodes, my mind started to wonder toward unfinished business at work. As my subconscious carried my mind back to my computer, I heard Captain Hook yell at the bumbling Mr. Smee “time is everything!” after the first mate spoiled yet another impossibly ridiculous attempt to trap the antagonist pirates. That got me thinking about a UX review we were doing at work related to “time to first measurement” design flows in LabVIEW.


The concept of time plays many roles within LabVIEW, but perhaps the most important to the highest volume of LabVIEW users is the time it takes to get to data. A few weeks ago, I visited with an account who, despite being an avid and very experienced programmer, asked to see the ability to access data without the requirement of writing code. LabVIEW has proven to be an amazing tool for developing code to automate the acquisition, analysis, and presentation of measurement data. However, there are three key areas that we’re focusing on to improve LabVIEW as a general data acquisition tool.


No Requirement to Program


Amongst the purists, there’s an age-old debate over whether LabVIEW is a tool or a programming language. Make no mistake. LabVIEW is a tool that was specifically designed to give the engineering community the ability to interface with the world around them through PC-based hardware. At the core of LabVIEW is G, a graphical dataflow language that uses abstracted blocks to represent functional logic and physical wires to transport data between those blocks. Although I believe with every fiber of my being that G (inside of LabVIEW) is the best and most efficient way to develop automated measurement applications, there are many times that you just want to get the data and don’t care about doing so over and over. We’re working on some unique UX flows within the product that give you the ability to move from seeing the hardware to getting the data without needing to write code on the block diagram.

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Improved In-Product Configuration


I touched on this a bit in a previous article, but you should be able to discover your hardware inside of LabVIEW without a secondary improvements to LabVIEW. From the discovery of hardware to thedeployment of code to it, your one-stop shop for that experience is being designed into LabVIEW. Measurement & Automation Explorer. This is a key tenet as we prioritize our improvements to LabVIEW. From the discovery of hardware to the deployment of code to it, your one-stop shop for that experience is being designed into LabVIEW.

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Improved Driver Discoverability

The third key area is driver installation. In the modern era, we are all typically used to having our device either find its driver automatically or come preloaded with it. As I envision a perfect future, I see a world where LabVIEW, as a “hardware-aware” tool, can automatically detect the driver you need, automatically determine the version that is compatible with other hardware interfaces in the same system, go find that version, and install it in real time.

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Of course, the concept of time extends far beyond this instantiation in LabVIEW. LabVIEW is the only measurement software with a waveform data type that propagates the concept of time throughout a compile chain. LabVIEW is the only measurement software with a Timed Loop—a logic flow that is controlled by either a hardware clock, rising or falling edges of a digital signal, or even the predetermined close rates of an OS itself. From saving you time in your day-to-day job to exposing the elusive concept of time in a highly synchronized and distributed application, LabVIEW is designed from the ground up (and being improved inside and out) to continue down this path.


We’re not forgetting about a mortal enemy by the name of Tick-Tock the Croc. Tick-tock, tick-tock.