LabVIEW Idea Exchange

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Make updating the GUI a priority in a near-term LabVIEW release

Status: Completed

Available in LabVIEW NXG 1.0. The NXG editor has been redesigned and modernized. Any specific usability or design suggestions for NXG should be submitted as new, separate idea exchange entries.

Not so much an idea, as a wish/plead/rant:


Please make the next version of LabVIEW a major update of the features we have available to create user interfaces.


2011 was the "improved stability" version. 2014 should be the year it became simple and fun to create user interfaces that blow everyone's socks off. I'm not even talking about fancy stuff, just get the basics right!  Fix the graph indicators, and provide better front panel scaling options - and that alone will make 2014 the best update ever(!).



I started writing a list of all the things I find bad with the graph/charts for example, and found out that it would be better to just do a search here on the idea exchange to see how many ideas mention graphs alone. 2390 ideas! (yes, I have not gone through them all to filter out the ones that do not actually request changes to the graphs, but most of them do, directly or indirectly...). My own little list started like this, in random order:


Graphs and charts

1. You cannot stack plots in any of the graph indicators, only in charts
2. Number of plots stacked cannot be varied at run-time
3. Annotation properties are only partially available programmatically
4. Auto-scaling cannot be restricted to one way-only, it's behaviour cannot be configured in any way
5. Legends, palettes and tools do not fit together to form an organized user interface, nor are they possible to detach from eachother to get more flexible designs/scaling for ecxample...
6. XY graphs become sluggish and almost unusable with large data sets, where alternatives written in other languages have no performance issues
7. Plot colors could automatically adjust to the chosen background color - suggesting unique colors for the added plots that provide the best possible

8. Graphs on e.g. Google and Yahoo have tonnes of cool features like animated zooming, thumbnail graphs, highlighting of the plot you hover the mouse over etc. which provide a very interactive feeling, you can achieve some of this in LV as well, but it could/should be possible with little or no programming

9. To get charts to accept data with variable sample rate (delta X) is possible, but cumbersome and an almost hidden feature...


Mixed signal
1. You cannot set the group names programmatically
2. The number of plot areas is not configurable at run-time
3. You cannot assign plots to a given group programmatically
4. You cannot show the visibility checkbox of each plot etc.


And then you have the additional 2000 ideas...;-)


As for front panel scaling there are not that many ideas (naturally), but the impact/value of them would change every LabVIEW programmer's life significantly. We can stop spending so much time finding ways around limitations in LV, and start focusing on the actual goal of our applications.

Would that not make everyone's day?



Active Participant

(I'm aware that the features/changes for 2014 is probably already more or less decided and under development, and anything else will have to wait for 2015 at the earliest. But I begin to feel like time is running out now. It's time to drop everything else (if it's not already in the plans), and just get some of these fundamental things done.)

Active Participant

I'll happily drop my kudos into this bucket but I fear that I might be better off dropping it into a wishing well.


Recently a colleague needed to annotate a histogram plot and nearly tore his hair out with frustration... until he switched to a .NET graph which magically did pretty much everything you could imagine. I was initially skeptical about the complexities of mixing environments but after seeing the capabilities of the alien graph (and the relative ease with which those capabilities could be leveraged) my mind was totally blown. LV has a *lot* of catching up to do... which is why I think wishing might be the best thing we can do.

Chris Virgona
Proven Zealot

Add my name to this wish list but for the sake of all that is good do not stop at graphs and charts!

Active Participant

Yeah, graphs and charts are slightly lower down on my list too...


I'd start with this little gem: Flat controls, indicators, and containers

Closely followed by this: Allow 0pixel size splitter bars

And this: We need to uncouple the "edit mode" FP size from the "run mode" FP size, I feel like a kid in a toy store. I'll take this one, and this, and this!! Smiley Tongue

Chris Virgona
Active Participant

Yes, I share your pain here.


Personally I really enjoy the added features to the programming language, but those are also the changes that move LabVIEW into the more mainstream "programming language" field (and here the problems start). The more mainstream, the more traditional IT applications are projected and the more we need modern UIs. The problem probably is that it's a very hard transition to move LV from where it was traditionally to where a modern generic programming language should be in terms of uncoupling of the view and the controller and model.


The current duality of the front panel as both a data interface and the UI is an unnecessary kludge. I've spoken numerous times about decoupling the BD from the FP entirely, but I am being met with "the FP is what makes LabVIEW so great and easy to understand". Ok, then perhaps there is a need for the front panel to just be the configurator for the data interface to the BD, and then enable us to define a UI for those few places that actually needs a UI. That UI could then be a modern one, maybe even programmed with some of the existing tools out there that makes a UI look contemporary.



CLA, CTA, CLED & LabVIEW Champion
Active Participant

fabric wrote: ", I feel like a kid in a toy store. I'll take this one, and this, and this!! :smileytongue:"


That's how LabVIEW felt to me at college back in 1997, when the alternative was Borland C on  DOS or Windows 3.1. I still enjoy working in LabVIEW, and do so every day, but it's been a good while since I had that feelingSmiley Frustrated

Active Participant

I try to go out of my way to make my UI look NOT like LabVIEW. It's a little extra work but I've had more than one user tell me: "I like your UI. It doesn't look like LV. It looks good." Perception is reality. I just wish NI would invest some serious manhours into making the UI components first rate and 21st century.


LabVIEW versions 5.0 - 2020

“All programmers are optimists”
― Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
Knight of NI

Believe me, we have yelled at NI insistently about this at the last CLA Summit.  NI is aware.  I'm just asking that this just doesn't turn into a GUI bashing thread.  Let's present actual fixes that NI can work on.

There are only two ways to tell somebody thanks: Kudos and Marked Solutions
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"Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God" - 2 Corinthians 3:5
Active Participant

I think there are plenty of fixes described right here on the idea exchange. That's why I say at the start of the idea that this is not an idea, it is closer to a petitionSmiley Happy


PS. It is a widely accepted truth that companies should not develop their products based on user feedback (alone), as user's typically only ask for incremental changes (although in this case I could argue that we are in fact asking for a revolution(!)). Hopefully we'll be positively overwhelmed soon....Smiley Wink 


For what I see from the user interface perspective it seems to me that the people that work on it are technicians. It works at a basic graphical level and that is good Enoch for them. Thy prefer to spend there time playing with the (fun) internals of the product instead of the looks. 

Learning LabVIEW since January 2013