12-23-2008 09:48 AM
Color use is very important when designing any GUI, and LabVIEW is no different. In general, you should use system colors and system controls for everything, and restrict the use of any other colors. This ensures that the application will look good no matter what bizarre color scheme the user decides to use. A good standard test for color use in Windows is the following:
One common problem is changing the background color of a text string so it matches a gradient, such as an XP button or XP tab control. The background color of the System Label is exactly what you want. Drop one on your front panel and type some text into it so it stays around. Now use the color picker tool to get its background color. Color your text this color and it will always change to whatever the background color under it is, even if it is a gradient. Note that this is not transparent, so it can be used when you want to mask things (e.g. a text label on the edge of a System Recessed Frame).
Graph colors are another major issue. A key point to remember is that red-green color blindness is relatively common (5% to 12% incidence in males, depending on who you reference), so never require your users to distinguish between red and green. If you must use red and green, provide an alternate means of distiguishing the traces, such as line type, line width, or grayscale. I usually use light pink, medium blue, and white as the default first colors of a graph (assuming a black background). This provides three different grayscale values and avoids the red-green problem. Attached are some color utilities (LabVIEW 8.0) to help generate color sets distinguished by grayscale and hue. You should find someone who is color blind and use them to check your interface. As just mentioned, they are surprisingly common.
This post just scratches the surface of good use of color in GUIs. If you are interested in more information, you can find a lot of good info on the web. There are also a plethora of books written on the subject. Have fun!
12-23-2008 09:59 AM
Thank you for the utilities and for the comments about color blindness. As one of the 5 to 12% who experience this, I find the default color sequence on graphs quite annoying. The red graph is hard to see.
Can you post an example of the colors you use or at least their values. I would like to take a look.
12-23-2008 10:57 AM
if 10% of the males is colorblind, does it really count as a special group?
I have the most problems with distinguising red and green and beamer. So be alarmed when you use a beamer, they suck at color.
12-23-2008 12:19 PM
12-23-2008 12:25 PM - edited 12-23-2008 12:26 PM
Actually, if you include the number of males with some measurable degree of color insensitivity (i.e. only obvious through standardized test), some researchers put the number as high as 20%. Probably explains why although I have no (for me at least) discernible color blindness I have this one shirt that I say is brown, but my wife swears is green...
BTW for what its worth: the percentage of females with some measurable degree of color insensitivity - 0.4%
12-23-2008 01:33 PM
Guilty as charged... Good guess!
To be specific, it was originally written for the NI-Scope Soft Front Panel. I believe it is used in other apps, as well.