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A better way to specify (default) fonts

Status: New

What's wrong with the current LabVIEW Fonts option dialog? Plenty!


Let's have a look:



  • We can only see one of the three font groups
  • It does not tell us the name of the current font, just how it looks!


If we specify a custom font, we get a dialog that has confused me since I started out with LabVIEW 4.0 way over 10 years ago.



Especially the two checkboxes in the lower left corner have bugged me since day one, because they are very confusing.


  • If we open this dialog from the options menu, both boxes are unchecked.
  • If we open this dialog from the BD or FP font pulldown, one of the checkboxes in inoperational, but not greyed out. Why???
  • Unless we read the help, it is not clear what they actually do and what they actually show.
  • Do I click these to make whatever I have selected the default or do I click these to revert back to the default???
  • ...


This font dialog needs to go and be redesigned from scratch!




Why not make the Font options a bit more intuitive. Here's a quick draft. Even if we select the default font, it should show what it is but have the parts on the right greyed out.


It probably would need a small preview area below each selection (not shown). Each can be much smaller than the current preview window. (It does not matter if a 500pt font is clipped a bit.)


Message Edited by altenbach on 07-28-2009 09:41 AM

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Knight of NI
That's a good idea 🙂
Knight of NI
Oh, and what's up with the "outline" and "shadow" option in the second image? Does not seem to make a difference here. Is this even still supported?

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Also, completely nix the terminologies "Application, Default and System". Is it necessary to even distinguish between the three?


Would anyone object to just having two fonts: one, for the IDE, and one as the default for the UI development of Front Panels?


For instance, since I develop on Vista, my Windows System font "Segoe UI" is fine for the LabVIEW IDE and Block Diagrams. On the other hand, all of my UI FP's use "Arial Unicode MS".


Any objections?

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Proven Zealot
Or give us a list of custom-defined Fonts to use.... Custom 1, Custom 2...... Custom 65536 (?) 😄
Proven Zealot

Outline and shadow always were MacIntosh only. I expected that other OSes would someday pick them up, but that has not happened. 

Proven Zealot

> Also, completely nix the terminologies "Application, Default and System". Is it necessary to even distinguish between the three?


If you're writing an app that you expect to run on many OSes, you have a choice: allow the fonts to change depending upon the OS or lock the fonts as part of the VI. If you choose the former, the VI looks more like the system, but you have to write UI code to update the layout everytime the fonts resize. "System" font is, litteraly, the font used by the OS. "Application" is the font LV is configured to run with, set by the config file, so you can allow limited customization of fonts in your app without being exposed to wild swings that might occur with the system font. Any other font you choose becomes the Default font and is saved as part of your VI and won't change no matter what happens. 


Fonts are a hard problem for software apps. LV's solution is no where near perfect, but it actually works well compared to many I've seen. 

Knight of NI

I've been searching around for how to know exactly what each of these fonts are defined.  Also, what windows display properties control them.  I found that the Message Box font in Windows display controls the application font.  (Correct me if I am wrong).  What Windows display properties define the dialog font and the system font?  Why doesn't the dialog box show you which Windows setting is controlling these 3 and what the current setting is?


How do you easily determine what is the current setting for an already placed control on the front panel?  In AutoCAD, if you click on a line, the selector boxes will show you that line's current properties such as layer, color, style, lineweight, etc.  If you select multiple lines and some of the properties are different between the selections, the dropdown selector box for that property goes blank.


However in LabVIEW, those dropdown selectors, only show you what the next setting will be if you drop a new entity or change an existing entity by clicking on the dropdown.


Also, what does "current font"  Ctrl-4 in the dropdown actually mean?  Sometimes it is checked, sometimes not.  Isn't the current font always the one that is actually showing in the dropdown?


I came across this thread because I am having a problem.  I'm designing a front panel for a new application.  I wanted to replace a button's text with an image.  I started working on my home Vista machine and everything was centered up and sized perfectly.  I took the VI to work where I have XP, and the image grew.  I thought I must have e-mailed a .VI that was not the latest.  I cleaned it up.  Sent it back home.  The cleaned up VI that looked fine on XP looked messed up on Vista.  The image also grew again.  (Why wouldn't it have shrunk considering it grew in the reverse operation of going from Vista to XP???)


Eventually it got me thinking about font issues and Vista vs. XP.  (All controls are the default Application font.  I never generally mess with fonts in my VI's other than rare cases where I am changing the appearance of some free labels.)  I searched the forums and found a few threads that confirmed that.  But nothing clearly defined the differences between application, system, dialog, "current" and which windows settings control each of those.


1.  Please show us what the actual font setting are for each of these settings.

2.  Tell us what Windows properties control each of them.

3.  Tell us what is the current font of an existing control or indicator when we click on it.


Question 2 is something that can be answered now.  Questions 1 and 3 are things I want to know when working on a VI and can be answered with an improved user interface with the font dialog like Christian proposes, and/or an improvement in the way the font selector dropdown menu works.


I agree that the whole system, dialog, and application font categories are confusing and very limiting.  The block diagram should have its own fonts that have nothing to do with the front panel.  For instance,I think Tahoma 13 looks good for the block diagram constants, but Tahoma 18 is more appropriate for the controls/indicators on the front panel.  Great, I'll just set those as my defaults... Oh wait, both of those fonts are controlled by "Application" font, so they have to be the same.  So if I'm to have the fonts I want, I have to resize the font of every single constant I put down on the block diagram or every single control/indicator I put down on the front panel?  What a waste of time!  How has this behavior made it to the 234098th version of Labview?  This is basic stuff.


I also find it entertaining that labview itself looks all screwed up in Windows 7 since I guess Windows 7 uses a different system font size than Labview was designed for.  Oh dear...