LabVIEW Idea Exchange

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Free, General Programming LabVIEW Edition

Status: Completed

Available with the LabVIEW 2020 Community Edition. The Community Edition is free for non-commercial use, and provides the same functionality as the LabVIEW Professional Edition.


Create a free, stripped down edition of LabVIEW for general purpose programming (GPP). Let's call this hypothetical edition "LabVIEW Lite". By GPP, I mean programming tasks that have nothing to do with data acquisition, test, or measurement- tasks such as creating generic PC, mobile, and web applications. Former text-based programmers would flock en mass to LabVIEW Lite for GPP use cases if a free, stripped down IDE were available. Imagine the recent popularity of the Eclipse IDE and Java, only with LabVIEW Lite and G!   



  • LabVIEW Lite would exponentially promote the paradigm of graphical system design.
  • Few (if any) structural dataflow languages are available for GPP.
  • Structured dataflow languages are insanely cool! Inherent parallelism, increased productivity, and hierarchical system design are only a couple of reasons. These are things other GPP programming languages can't offer.
  • 16, 32, 64, ... core consumer devices are coming! LabVIEW is poised to exploit parallelism in a way that is hopelessly messy with text-based languages.
  • GPP use cases of LabVIEW Lite would spark user ideas for many non-GPP use cases, for which NI would receive full LabVIEW and NI hardware sales.



  • No measurement/test/data acquisition VIs or tools.
  • No FPGA tools.
  • Application (exe, dll) builder for stripped down applications.
  • The LabVIEW IDE we all know and love.
  • Primitive types, clusters, structures, loops, file i/o, etc. provided.


I think it's a shame that programmers today aren't using G! What do you think?


Knight of NI

Duplicate of this which has already been declined. The blue of your user name indicates that you are an NI employee. True?

NI Employee

The reason I posted this idea is I wanted to create an application for fun (at home) the other day using all the awesomeness of LabVIEW/G, and concluded that this wasn't possible (without handing NI an exorbitant amount of money). Then I got to thinking about the millions of programmers who have similar use cases.


If such a tool already exists, I would love for someone to correct my ignorance!

NI Employee

Yes, I am an NI employee.

Proven Zealot

I understand the wish for a low-cost or even free-of-charge version of LV. In Germany, in 2007 the computer magazine c't contained a full version of LV 6.1 which somehow comes close to your request/idea. I personally doubt that this increased new orders for new (up-to-date) licenses sold by the German NI branch by measurable means.


You have to keep in mind several points:

1. If you get a personlized version from your company, the license agreement covers one private activation for this developer with the restriction that it must not be used for commercial means. Developing for the company on that system is ok. See the license agreement, article 7, for further information.

2. Since older versions of LabVIEW are not subject for activation, there are customers having the perception that it is free of cost. As Altenbach states, this is of course not true (with the exception i stated above if you bought the c't11/07).

There are special low cost versions, first of all the Student Edition. I understand that those are limited in their "broad" usage and do not cover all cases.

3. There is already too much discussion about current packaging (e.g. why is event structure not contained in Base Developement Package?). Introducing another, low-budget version would lead to increased discussion: what are "necessary" functionalities?

4. What about support? The c't stated that support for the delivered LV version 6.1 was only available via forums. Nevertheless, there have been users calling in for support in the German NI branch support. Since support does cost NI (equipment, salaries, ...), it is somehow a tightrope walk in regard to profitability since what should such a version cost?


So please stick to already ongoing discussion rather than starting new ones.




CEO: What exactly is stopping us from doing this?
Expert: Geometry
Marketing Manager: Just ignore it.

Have you checked out:


It's a LabVIEW Student Edition and Arduino Bundle for $49.95.


One commentor there reports that the "student" restriction has been removed, so only requirement is USA or Canada use. I'd verify the details before you order it though.


Its not full-blown LV, but it might be okay for simple stuff.

Trusted Enthusiast

This is a good idea. I take advantage of article 7 of the license agreement but if my license gets moved to another developer then I am out of the game. Smiley Mad


If the personal edition does not include DAQ or any instrument communications then it would not hit National Instruments core market. Of course code developed on the personal version would have to be checked by the professional version so it would not load.


As far as support you just don't have to. It is a free edition and if people want support they can buy it.


This is not exactly the same as Altenbach's idea in that it does not include measurement of any kind.

LabVIEW 2012

NI Employee

@Steve I had not seen Altenbach's idea prior to posting mine, but I agree that they are slightly different.


@JasonD Thanks for the link! I am still of the opinion that hypothetical "LabVIEW Lite" would quickly become the premier programming environment today if it were available for free. As Steve points out, it could be implemented in such a way that does not impact NI's bottom line, and support/training could even be purchased.

Active Participant

The bad thing is, you can dedicate years of your life to learning and programming in LabVIEW. If you lose or change jobs, you may not be able to use it anymore. It doesn't pay to put all your eggs in one basket. Hopefully in the future there will be other programs that will let you program in a similar manner, but I have not found any as of yet. For a small lighter language, try autoit. Text based, but has an enthusiastic user group and it is free. No runtime engines either and you can create GUI's with it.

Active Participant

From what I can gather, NI are happy for you to use LabVIEW cheaply or at no cost in a non-commercial hobbyist way. For example, the free magazine license mentioned above, you can cheaply buy a book plus student edition or the LabVIEW-Arduino bundle (sadly only available in the US and Canada, but hopefully will be expanded).


Of course, such copies should not be eligible for support.


Rather than having to purchase an Arduino bundle or similar, it would be nice if NI made a directly accessible low cost hobbyist license for LabVIEW.


Like others, I have a home license associated with my work LabVIEW copy. But if I change jos or when I retire (and finally have time to do all those LabVIEW projects I want at home), I loose my free license.


I'm all for a low-cost hobbyist license for LabVIEW (with no NI support). I think overall it will increase NI's profits.

Trusted Enthusiast
Even if it does not directly impact profit in a positive way it will increase mindshare. Things like that are more important than profit because that is what profit is built on. The hobbyist gets a job and is in the position to make purchasing decisions. He makes decisions based on what he is familiar with.
LabVIEW 2012