LabVIEW Idea Exchange

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LabVIEW Viewer

Status: New

The LabVIEW Viewer would be a stand-alone application that allows for the viewing on VIs for someone who doesn't have a full-blown LabVIEW installation.  It would function similar to how the development environment functions on a 'locked' VI.


I've used 'VI Documentation' in the past, but this viewer would allow for live navigation, context help, drilling-down into SubVIs, scrolling through case structures, etc.







I think this is a serious issue with any company that needs to perform peer code reviews.

I just went through a code review where I used LabVIEW RT and LabVIEW FPGA. We have floating licenses for regular LV, but not for the RT and FPGA. It really complicated everything. What quality group out there wants to spend thousands on a license to review code? (when i say 'quality group' i'm talking about the guys that make sure you have the correct copyright notice, color schema, proper formatting, no ugly comments, bad wires, extra, ironically usually nothing to do with working code)


Another issue is that I may be developing LabVIEW FPGA code, and a co worker may be developing regular LabVIEW code to work with my FPGA code. He can not double check my LabVIEW code to confirm that he is sending data to my FPGA that is formatted correctly.

Sure, proper documentation would prevent the need for this. But, sometimes it's just quicker to look at code instead of pages of documents. For example it should only take a second for the guy developing the LabVIEW code for the PC to open up my LabVIEW FPGA code and determine that the i2c data that he is sending me should be in little indian format instead of big indian.


Also, this makes it dificult to compete with ALL OTHER TEXT BASED LANGUAGES!!!

So, you don't have Microsoft Visual Studio installed to look at source for c#? Gues what, view the code anyways in NOTEPAD!!!


For the software guys developing the labview code, this shouldn't be all this complex. If for some reason it's to hard to create a free viewer that's less than 4Gb to download why not save a series of jpg images encoded in your binary data of the VI on every save?  Then all you need is an intelegent viewer to properly parse the images and have active hot spots on the jpg to mimic the source code.



Engineering - The art of applied creativity  ~Theo Sutton

A simple way to provide a "Viewer " would consist of:


- upload the vi file to a National Instruments server

- at the NI server, Labview opens the vi 

- the server sends back a screenshot of the Front Panel and Block Diagram


It could offer the option of which Labview version the user would like to open the vi.


It should be reasonably simple to implement and requires no extra software development.


There are many websites that provide similar service for other file formats. For example: CAD files, PCB Gerber files, etc.


Knight of NI

And how would you view another case in a case structure or an event in an event structure? Or another tab on a tab control? You are stuck only view a screenshot of what is currently shown on the VI.

AristosQueue (NI)
NI Employee (retired)

Has anyone checked out the link I posted earlier?

The preview tool really does work well for this sort of thing -- and, yes, it allows you to view the other frames of structures. And for Mr Question's developer use case, it would be easy enough to set up one copy of LV FPGA on a network machine and use VI Server to call over to that copy, ask it to run the previewer on a given VI and then retrieve the view. I admit it could be tedious for a large code review to go through that, but you could automate generating the previews for a larger hierarchy.


One more thing -- if all you need to do is check the VI diagrams, the VIs that you write for FPGA will load into LabVIEW without FPGA installed. They may be broken because they are missing subVIs, but they will load so you can view them and even write and save comments on the block diagrams.


None of the above should be taken as me voting one way or another on the general idea of a viewer. I'm totally ambivalent about the idea. It's worth building if customers would use it. I was in LV R&D when we had a viewer... nearly no one used it... maybe more people would use it today. But just about everyone who claims they just want a viewer also really (though they don't say it explicitly at first) wants edit abilities or a limited "run it and watch execution highlighting" and stuff like that, which slowly evolves toward "just give me a full LabVIEW, but give it away for free because I'm just using it for this limited use case." 🙂

Knight of NI

And then you are getting into this realm:

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That definitely would be a limitation. Still could be useful for simple VIs (examples and discussion uploads)
What about a remote VI Viewer... something like Remote Desketop?



Active Participant

This could be usefull if you wanted to show an auditor your code. Printing all the subdiagrams can still hide stuff. The LabVIEW player is a good start in this direction but it would be nice to have official backing.

CLED (2016)

I'd like to post a reply encouraging development of an official LabView Viewer.


I believe the scope of required features are listed above by Kezar.  I would add:


  • Printing (PDF/Printer etc)
  • Visual Diff of two versions.





I don't think people at NI understands the due process that is required in regulatory industires. The quote from 



 I was in LV R&D when we had a viewer... nearly no one used it... maybe more people would use it today. But just about everyone who claims they just want a viewer also really (though they don't say it explicitly at first) wants edit abilities or a limited "run it and watch execution highlighting" and stuff like that, which slowly evolves toward "just give me a full LabVIEW, but give it away for free because I'm just using it for this limited use case." 🙂



Kinda says it all.  

Sorry, but there is no way in hell our quality team and auditors would ever install a full version of LabVIEW.

The concept of any type of review in a regulatory industry is that the code is frozen and locked up. No one can touch it, not even the author untill all findings and artifiacts have been created.  The peer review process can be expnsive and can easly cost up to 30% of the actual development cost. 


Another thing, your suggestion of using a tool such as is completely unacceptable in our company and I suspect all regulatory industires. Just to copy code from a forum no matter how small requires legal approval. To get any type of tool approved in the first place involves a lot of effort from multiple teams. 


It took us years just to get "openG" approved, and even then we are only approved for a specific version of openG. We can not upgrade because there is no license agreement from an approved vendor.


When your products directly affect the life or death of other people there is a much higher level of scrutiny and transparency with both product and process.


Sorry, but for people who think work arounds or third party tools is the solution for this "viewer idea" simply don't understand how companies in regulatory industires work. 




Engineering - The art of applied creativity  ~Theo Sutton
AristosQueue (NI)
NI Employee (retired)


We do try to understand the regulatory needs. Several of the points you make contradict what I have heard in the past from regulators. Let me lay out what I've heard before so we can compare notes.


I'll wager that when you load text code to review it, you load it into a text editor. The files are marked as read-only and that's how you prevent changes. You also have your source code control branch frozen to prevent changes during the review. The same solution works for LabVIEW. Do I lose the wager?


The fact that the tool that you use to review the code can make changes is irrelevant if those changes cannot be committed in any way, shape, or form. As I have heard it, most regulatory reviews actually would prefer that the review be done viewing using the exact same LabVIEW that will be used to edit and compile the code in order to guarantee that there's nothing hidden or extra that isn't being shown in the viewer. Personally, I have only spoken to a couple of reviewers on this issue, so my sample size is very small, but those two reviewers would generally frown on any alternate tool being used for LabVIEW code, even if that tool came from NI.


I was not suggesting that VIPreview be used in the regulatory environments. I was suggesting that for the folks who want quick code reviews with collegues or are creating walk-throughs of the code to show to their clients.


LabVIEW is used in regulatory environments, and we do not have a viewer today, so clearly some regulators are ok with either reviewing from HTML dumps or from within LabVIEW itself. Even when we had the viewer years ago, it wasn't used even by our regulated clients.


Does that all make sense?

-- AQ