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LabVIEW as one of the Top 20 software development environments

This idea was prompted by an email to a work colleague on how to generally improve LabVIEW. I liked it so much that I’m presenting it as an idea. Please keep in mind that it is worded with an individual audience and may have been tamed down had I written it for this exchange. I hope you like it. It’s a holistic approach to what I think will take LabVIEW from where it is today to where it could be in a year or so. Hopefully the LabVIEW community thinks likewise.

 

If NI want to improve LabVIEW, here’s what I see needs to be done:

 

1) Reduce the price of LabVIEW Professional to $1500 (and get rid of LabVIEW Base – why teach poor programming practices)

 

2) Allow a standard web browser to be the user interface (without any plug-ins!)

 

3) Fold in some of the general purpose toolkits into the main product (best way to add new features!, but I can live without this)

 

4) Sell single board cRIO in quantities of one (at a reasonable price). And show the price on the NI website.

 

5) Reduce the price of LabVIEW RT, FPGA and embedded.

 

6) Offer more deployment platforms (RT, FPGA and embedded) – this is where NI will make money, by selling more hardware.

 

7) Offer general-purpose low-cost mini-board (a few digital and analog I/O and a controller). Think 32-bit Arduino-like. In fact, why not make it compatible with the Arduino shields (stackable plug in boards that add functionality).

 

8) Improve the robustness of LabVIEW (in preference to new features).

 

9) More tutorials, examples and learning documentation (helps users, reduces support costs and opens the door to cheaper LabVIEW).

 

10) Increase the user base by a factor of 4 (needed to get to “critical mass” for user community).

 

11) Have the same feature set across Windows, Macintosh and Unix (or at least reduce the gap).

 

12) Publish a textbook for experienced LabVIEW programmers that want to move step-by-step to object oriented LabVIEW programming (assuming this is the way to go, haven’t used it myself so not sure how useful it is).

 

13) Add features to make it a more general purpose programming language (to challenge C, C++ and C#). Don’t take it too far, we don’t need LabVIEW to write word processors and database programs, but we would like to write home automation software (my next hobby project), general purpose utilities and more commercial software to go with our products (as opposed to our current usage of just in-house software).

 

14) Improve controls and indicators to allow the same look-and-feel as “professional” programmes. Want to create an awful user interface? Just add a Toggle Switch! There done! (Can you imagine any commercial software written in any other language that would go out of their way to add a Toggle Switch looking control? Can you even begin to imagine this in, say, Windows?). Anyway, more controls and indicators that look like those of general purpose applications and a built-in powerful easy-to-use control and indicator editor.

 

That should do it for LabVIEW 2012. I’ve got more to take LabVIEW to the Top 20 programming languages.

 

LabVIEW should be able to get into the Top 20 programming languages, if NI gets a move on. This is due to its lead with intrinsic multiprocessor programming and deployment across platforms ranging from mini-board (not yet available, see point 7), Lego NXT, LabVIEW embedded for 32-bit microcomputers, FPGA based systems (eg. Compact RIO) and desktop PCs (Windows, Macintosh and Unix). The entire programming spectrum covered – who else can do this today! However, it’s important for NI to get moving and exploit this lead before others do it.

24 Comments
Active Participant

I really agree that they should remove the Base Development system or atleast add Event structure to it. Regarding the price of LabVIEW, I don't think they will lower the price. The company I work for bought LabVIEW and application builder for around 20000 NOK (Norwegian Kroner. It's about 3700 USD). In the first two months we made around 100000 NOK (almost 18500 USD) on the software and hardware I created for automated test of electronics, for some customers. The price of LabVIEW has been paid back a long time ago and we still keep earning money. A really good investment if you ask me. 

 

As for the controls I like to create my own, but it takes time and it would be nice if the modern pallette became even more modern. I always try the create programs that will blend in with windows 7 on the visually basis. For me it seems that the LabVIEW controls and indicators are stuck with the Windows Xp visuality. It would be cool if NI could add something that would blend in with the Aero engine of windows 7. (I know of the system controls and indicators, but it's quite limited)

 

For this I will give you a kudo, but for the priceing I'm not so agree with you. For a private person it's way too overpriced, but as for an investment for a company it's just a small amount that will pay off really good after some time. 

Regards,
Even
_________________________________
Certified LabVIEW Associate Developer

Automated Test Developer
Topro AS
Norway
Member
I agree that without moves to make LabVIEW more general purpose programming language and without reducing the price the users base can not be increased. I just checked that recently, many people in software development never heard about LabVIEW nor about National Instruments!
Member
LabVIEW should be promoted not only in Engineering but in Computer Science.
Knight of NI

You don't mention what you think is missing from LabVIEW that needs to be added to make it a general purpose language. I would suggest you read this.

Active Participant

Sergey,

 

Exactly.

 

Dennis,

 

I haven't mentioned what I think is missing from LabVIEW that needs to be added to make it a general purpose language since I didn't want to be restrictive. We could each come up with a list ... I've read the linked article before and have read it again now.

NI Employee

There's a lot of ideas here. Idea Exchange tends to work best if you split them up into invidual lists so that the community can collaborate more efficiently. Case and point, the price point of LabVIEW and LabVIEW in a web browser has been brought up in a couple of other ideas so I would call those duplicates. The FPGA and RT ideas should be posted to the RT and FPGA Idea Exchanges for a more scoped audience. I think the ideas on more features in LV for Mac and Linux and textbook for OOP are good ones that could be expanded on (What features specifically are missing that you would like? What information is lacking to move to LVOOP?). We definitely appreciate the feedback but the large "These 27 things should be changed in LabVIEW" tend to not gain traction on the Idea Exchange as much as individual ideas.

Grant H.
National Instruments
LabVIEW Product Marketing Manager
Active Participant

The idea is, what will it take to make LabVIEW one of the Top 20 programming languages / software development environments. So yes, the individual items are listed elsewhere and elaborated. This idea is a collection of features/ideas that would make LabVIEW more widely used. So if you can think of "top level" ideas that would catapult LabVIEW from a relatively unknown language to something more widely used, let's add it to the list. Success would be indicated by being in the Top 20 on the TIOBE list (http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html). Yes, I know this is an arbitrary indicator, but we need some gauge.

 

I truly believe that LabVIEW could be a mainstream programming language. It has a lot of great features, but is not widely used. There are a lot of benefits to NI and users if the user community was significantly larger.

Knight of NI

You don't get the point. A large list that you have is next to worthless here. It is individual items that need to be discussed and voted on. There are some suggestions I might kudo, but others (such as eliminating the toggle switch) I would be opposed to. If there are existing suggestions on your list, post there. And provide some details.

Active Participant

I haven't explained myself well. The individual ideas are posted elsewhere. This ideas is - what changes to LabVIEW would be required to increase it's popularity?

 

I'm proposing to remove nothing. The toggle switch would remain, however a more "general application" version would also be provided. I hate when something is removed when you can have it and something else.

 

I guess a vote for this idea is, do you think it's a good idea to increase the LabVIEW user base? (How we go about it is another question and the list provided here is a suggestion (but would need to be generally OK). There may be other things that would be required and it would be useful to list these.)

 

 

Knight of NI

No. I see what you are proposing is simply a sales goal. I don't see where meeting some target on some list does anything to actually improve LabVIEW itself. Some of the ideas may or may not improve sales but it is the separate ideas that I am interested in.