LabWindows/CVI Idea Exchange

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Make the change to Eclipse (or some other common framework platform)

NI is not a C/C++ Editor-Debugger company.  And, it will never be able to invest the man power needed to get there.  NIs strengths are its Instrument UIs, its libraries, and it's visual application UI pieces.  The LabWindows/CVI tool looks and feels like tools from the mid 90's (ie.  like an old Borland C editor, but even less featured).  It lacks the toolset found in VisualStudios, NetBeans, and Eclipse.  And, it will always be behind.

 

The Verigy93k tester was like this several years ago.  They wrote their own C/C++ editor, and it was at a mid 80's level.  When a team was asked to rewrite the UI and bring it up to date, they made a novel choice (they recognized that they were not a UI platform / editor company), and they moved their product under Eclipse.  Teradyne Flex did something similar a year or two later moving under Excel and Visual Studio.  The thing is this, both companies realized that they could make more money focusing on their real strength.  They added libraries and apis to work in the platforms framework, and changed/adapted the platform framework to work for them.  ie. Teradynes Flex test tool does not say "Excel/Visual Studio", it says it is a Teradyne product based on MS Excel and VS.  And, they have adapted the platform to their needs adding on the extra Windows/UIs/... to meet their needs.  Same with the Verigy 93K.

 

In Teradynes case, they went back to the drawing board.  So, we will ignore this (even with their success).  In Verigys case, all their existing APIs worked in the new platform, and the user didn't need to change anything when they upgraded.  But, suddenly the Editor and Debugger were up to date, with latest greatest features.  It was a huge change overnight.

 

LabWindows really should make a shift to Eclipse.  Keep your old legacy stuff at first, but working under Eclipse.  Add in "Views" and "Tools" to supplement what Eclipse doesn't give you for free.  And, remove unwanted or confusing plugins from the eclipse base.  (This is what advantest did.)  Leave in features that make Eclipse great, like error view, and the ability to have several "perspectives".  And really focus the man power into making a product that will blow the others out of the water.  NI has what it takes to make great Instrument editing/debugging windows in Eclipse.  But, NI doesn't have the 1,000's of people and millions of man hours required to make an Editor/Debugger that will compare to the Eclipses/VisualStudios of the world.  As a business they should focus on what will make them a differentiator, and reuse what is accepted and common.

 

Anyway.  My 2 cents on how you could really improve LabWindows in a few short months.  (Note: Verigy spent all of 9 months and 9 engineers on their C/C++ integration into eclipse...  I know... I was there at the time.)  If you took the LabWindows team, and a year or two...  Imagine how much better of a job you could do.

12 Comments
Member

So, I haven't posted here in a while.  Possibly because I have jumped back to the world of Teradyne and Advantest.  Aka. VS and Eclipse.  But, I still use CVI on occasion.  And, I still come back to the same point.  While I liked some of the simplistic features of the Borland like environments (which CVI has), it still doesn't compare with the overall robustness of VS and Eclipse.

 

On a side note, I do like playing with Measurement Studios which is a VS addin.  And, while I like the eclipse environment more than VS.  I would love to see CVI even move to VS, which would be like a gateway drug to Measuement Studios.

 

As to overall overhead, as long as I get the speed I need (which is mostly determined by the measurements I am making), I prefer to have the debugging tools that these other tools provide.

Member

As a side note: recently in a company I contracted for using CVI, I was able to take a 4 hour program down to 45 minutes in CVI.  Then taking the stock libraries from the vendors, using eclipse, I was able to get the over all bench test time down to 14 minutes.  Suddenly I (and eclipse), was a god to these people.  The UIs I left them with were much more usable than they were able to create in the past with CVI.  And, as most of their engineers were Computer Engineers (a cross training between CS and EE), they have shifted a lot of their newer applications to this approach.  The feeling was that it gave them a much better knowledge base for future jobs.  And, the company liked the reduction and usibility added to their lab.

 

CVI has a number of problems.  It is not multi-processor friendly.  It uses C only, which for the most part is a dead language.  Most CEEs comming out of college these days have trained in environments that support C++ and Java, and C is like placing handcuffs on these people.  And, while Measurement Studio is an option, from a corprate point of view, there is no integration path from CVI to Measurement Studio.  Which moving CVI to VS could solve.

 

I hear people talking about the "resource usage" that VS and eclipse use.  But, the reality is that the gating factor is the speed the instrumentation provides.  No one really cares about the gating factor of the language, except when the language slows them down.  And the C of CVI does this.