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[Point of VIEW] We’re Glad You Asked

Member

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

http://www.ni.com/images/coreblock/col3/VIP-Days_2007_49.png

While most designers, whether with canvas, marble, brick or thread, revel at the thought of their work being identifiable at a glance, it’s not so of software developers. The phrase “I recognize that UI, it’s definitely LabVIEW” is not necessarily meant as a compliment.


Being “more modern” is one of the first three feature requests of any LabVIEW user, typically in some order with zoom and new UI components. As the world’s expectations of the word modern have evolved, parts of LabVIEW have not kept pace.


Today’s user expectations of all modern software are being established in the consumer world. Consumer products are establishing expectations around UX schemes, in-product purchases, and UI design. This is an interesting phenomenon that Adam Richardson explores in his book Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems Are Its Greatest Advantage.

To fully modernize, there is work that needs to be done both in the design of the LabVIEW environment and in the ways that you as a user interact with it. Requests in our own LabVIEW Idea Exchange bear the same intention. While LabVIEW provides many helpful windows, such as Context Help, Probe Watch Windows, and the View Error List; however, they float around the screen. LabVIEW users are seeking conceptual improvements such as a multiple document interface and the ability to tab windows.

Particularly with new users, it’s not the design but the multiple UX paradigms that prevent them from maximizing their productivity. Consider an array control where there are three areas, just pixels apart, that produce different right-click menus:

  1. The area in the numeric control
  2. The border of the numeric control
  3. The border of the array control

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While many of the options are available through the magic right-click menus, some options are only available through the environment pull-down menus, sometimes in the front panel or block diagram, sometimes in the project explorer.


While we remain in awe of what our customers develop, discover, and revolutionize with LabVIEW, the Product Management team understands that NI software has fallen behind in this area. As a LabVIEW developer, or someone considering LabVIEW, you may wonder, “Yes, but what are you doing about it?” We’re glad you asked.


There is now a team of interaction designers and a separate team of visual designers. While we can all appreciate the uncompromising creative prowess of the engineering mind, you can only see so many blue windows titled “Blue Window.” We have evolved our engineering process such that the visual and interaction design of each feature, window, document, and option now uses the expertise of these two teams. This was the first step toward making LabVIEW look and feel as good as it does enable creativity and innovation.


Follow LabVIEW News in the coming months as we discuss other topics related to areas of areas of focus and innovation in 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.



Lacy Klosterman Rohre | Marketing Editor | National Instruments | 512.683.6376 | ni.com/newsletter
Comments
Active Participant

Let me be one of the first to say "thank you NI" for committing to UI improvements in LabVIEW.  I love the full-featured UI components that are part of the tool set (graphs for instance), but I think a re-work of UI design and layout for the developer will be greatly appreciated.  Environments like Delphi, and VB and C# in Visual Studio offer great UI design experiences and some of those features would be welcome in LabVIEW.

Member MKr
Member
I absolutely agree.  Can any hint be given at all as to when we might see first new components for designing a UI?  (That would be much more relevant at least to me than having some renovations inside the IDE which no one of our customers will see...)
Active Participant

10Degree,

We completely agree with you. We have a series of posts upcoming in November to discuss UI specifically, and separately of the design of the general environment. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts.

Jeffrey P.
LabVIEW Product Management
National Instruments
Active Participant

Mkr,

We're actively working through the trade-offs between a complete and quality update vs. a faster time to market. Many of these changes are architectural in nature; and as such, require some longer timelines. I'm not quite ready to commit to any timelines, but stay tuned!

Jeffrey P.
LabVIEW Product Management
National Instruments
Member

Great blog post ! For what it's worth , if someone need to merge PDF or PNG files , my kids used a tool here http://goo.gl/xu46J5