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Noncommercial Hobby/Home license for LabVIEW

Status: Completed

LabVIEW Home Bundle is now available for personal, non-commercial use. Initially, it will be available for sale through Digilent. See ni.com product page for more details.

It has come up in discusssions that NI does not really cater to hobbyists. A cheap and functional version of LabVIEW is limited to the student edition, which is restricted to a small subset of potential users.

 

 From the  FAQ:


"The LabVIEW Student Edition is available to students, faculty, and staff for personal educational use only. It is not intended for research or institutional use."

 

As a suggested first step, I suggest to remove the academia restriction and mold it into a new product:

 

--- LabVIEW personal edition ---

 

Licensed as follows:

"The LabVIEW Personal Edition is for personal use only. It is not intended for commercial, research or institutional use."

 

 It would be available to anyone for noncommercial home use.

 

LabVIEW currently has the home use exemption that allows installing a copy at home. Unfortunately, if you lose your job, you not only lose your health insurance, but you also lose access to LabVIEW, thus hampering any self paced LabVIEW tinkering that possibly would improve future job prospects. I am sure many retired LabVIEW engineers would love some recreational LabVIEW use. They could be a great asset, because they will have more time helping out in the community and forums. They could even give guest presentations at user group meetings, for example.

 

The LabVIEW personal edition should include all modules of interest to the hobbyist, including application builder, embedded, FPGA, and robotics.  We should be able to distribute built applications as freeware. Support would be limited to community support.

 

Installing LabVIEW on every single private home computer in the world would cost NI exactly nothing (except for some sales of the current student edition which is about the price of a textbook, some internet bandwidth, and loss of the zero to two (?) multi-millionaires who actually bought the NI developer suite for themselves. ;)). 99.9% of users would never touch it, but that 0.1% could come up with great new application areas and would help spread the word on how great LabVIEW really is. Soon 0.2% would use it. 🙂

 

It should follow the "customer class limited" Freemium model, (as defined by Chris Anderson), i.e. limited to personal home use in this case.

 

The running applications should be clearly identified to prevent commercial use. The splash screen and "about" screen should prominently display the words LabVIEW and National Instruments and could even be used for NI advertising and product placements, for example.

 

 


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89 Comments
Member

Chris Anderson here!

 

Needless to say, I think this is a great idea 😉

 

I'd offer as an analogy the Eagle PCB design software by Cadsoft. They have a free personal edition to go with their very expensive commerical edition. The free one is functional enough for hobbyists (it can do two layer boards, rather than the pro version four layers, etc), and as a result it's been widely adopted by the open source community even though it is not open source itself. 

 

We started as users of the free Eagle version, but once we got some traction and decided to sell what we made, we upgraded to the paid version. That never would have happened if there hadn't been a free version to start with.

Trusted Enthusiast

I'm no economist, but it seems logical that sales of low cost USB devices would increase, starting with the hobbyists. Would I spend $2599 for the Full LabVIEW or $4299 for the Professional LabVIEW suite as a hobbyist? Of course not, that's big bucks. But would I drop $169 for a USB-6008 or $279 for a USB-6009 if I had a free IDE and drivers to develop with? Yes, without blinking an eye, that's chump change.

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Proven Zealot
I accept with all the points but giving an application builder might not be possible due to potential abuse.
Active Participant

Even without an application builder I would be very interested in a home version.  Right now as I use a Mac at home and a PC at work I can't even use the additional home installation clause despite using LabVIEW at work (I'm not interested in installing Windows on my home computer).

 

One possibility which would be very nice would be to create a limited version of the application builder / run-time environment, to allow applications to be built that will only run on systems that have the home version installed.  That way I could create a little hobby tool for myself to use without having to launch the full LabVIEW environment every time I wanted to run it, and maybe even share it with my fellow hobby enthusiasts, without it being able to be distributed to random people. 

Proven Zealot
Great idea Jmorris.
Knight of NI

> I accept with all the points but giving an application builder might not be possible due to potential abuse

 

 If the splash screen cannot be blocked and would clearly identify the applications as noncommercial freeware that cannot be sold, it would not interfere with existing sales. It simply would open up new worlds.

 

The personal edition would still require activation and registration at NI.

 

What if each built application contains a unique author/product key and would be in demo mode (e.g. 30 days expiration) unless also activated at NI?

 

What if the license could be revoked by NI?


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What does "Engineering Redefined" mean??
Trusted Enthusiast

muks wrote:

giving an application builder might not be possible due to potential abuse


Strongly disagree with this statement. The knuckleheads that would abuse the license are probably the same knuckleheads who would try to pirate a copy anyway. They still get the application builder either way - the ones who lose are those who abide by the Terms. Offering a full-fledged Application Builder in LabVIEW Home Edition coupled with a statically linked small RTE could be a dream come true for both the hobbyist and NI marketing.


altenbach wrote:

The personal edition would still require activation and registration at NI.


 

This is an idea I thought about on the way to work this morning. What if the requirement were you had to take at least 1 training class, or pass the CLAD? Both ideas are perfectly acceptable to me (since I fall into those categories!), although now the licensing starts to become exclusive with a required purchase (unless you take the CLAD at a Dev Day....).

 

Ideally, the license would be a free online registration, just enough for NI to audit how many licenses have been distributed, and to know who is linked to what license number. I would not mind filling out a marketing questionaire during registration in exchange for this license.

 

Also, I would not mind if NI embedded anonymous usage statistics into the Home Edition.

  

These ideas are not exhaustive, just a few thoughts for Todd's request over here. In short: A few "annoyances" such as watermarks, splash screens, advertising on the splash screen, anonymous usage statistics, or marketing questionnaires would be an acceptable trade-off for a FULL-FEATURED LabVIEW Home Edition.

 

(Did I mention FULL-FEATURED? None of this "no event structures for you" business....)

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Knight of NI
What if a distributed application using this edition must be open source. The diagrams cannot be removed and an installer would always include a source distribution?

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What does "Engineering Redefined" mean??
Member

This would be great for me since my company owns my LabVIEW license.  I'd pay a reasonable amount to have my own copy, even if it didn't include stuff like device drivers and the fancy math and analysis stuff or something (though I agree that the Event Structure should be included).  Having a more basic app builder would be very nice, too, or at least some way for others to be able to run my VIs.  That would be a sale that NI makes on top of my company keeping their volume license.

 

Of course, NI would need to do something to prevent companies from trying to use the cheap Home editions.  Maybe for the app builder, it would always include the VI source to discourage commercial apps being built with it or something, like altenbach said.

Message Edited by The J on 04-05-2010 02:54 PM
Trusted Enthusiast

Open source? Maintaining proprietary information as a purchased benefit, not a freeware right? I subscribe to that. (Also, I didn't address your idea of NI's right to license revocation - blacklisting knuckleheads sounds completely legit.)

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