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Darren's Weekly Nugget 07/03/2006

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This week's nugget is a public service announcement.  I would like to advocate the use of a LabVIEW feature that is currently shunned by many, including some of our most experienced users.  In fact, a couple of my own teammates refuse to use this feature.  Before I tell you what feature I'm talking about, I want to remind everyone that I am not a Marketing guy.  Also, I readily admit that there are several LabVIEW usability features that I do not use...Auto wire routing, red Xs on broken wires, auto grow on structures...all of these (and many more) are disabled in my Tools > Options settings.  However, I have been using the following feature since its inception, and I haven't looked back...

The feature I'm talking about is the Auto Tool.  If you have tried the Auto Tool before and you hated it, I'd like for you to give it another chance...its behavior improves with every LabVIEW release.  If somebody else has told you the Auto Tool is no good, give it a try anyway.  I'd like for you to try using it for one whole week.  I'm sure the first few days will be tough, but I honestly believe that my G coding is significantly more efficient because I use the Auto Tool.  Now, there is an option in Tools > Options that locks the Auto Tool and doesn't let you Tab...I have this feature turned off, because occasionally I need to do something not supported by the Auto Tool, like coloring items.  But as soon as I use the coloring tool, I shift-click to bring up the tools palette so I can turn Auto Tool back on.  In fact, other than coloring items, the only other non-default Auto Tool behavior I can think of that I ever use is to hold down Shift when I'm using the Auto Tool with Enums and Rings to switch between editing the text and changing the selection. 

Now I've heard all the complaints about the Auto Tool...(1) it's too slow when switching between tools, (2) it never picks the right tool for the job, and (3) you have to move the mouse to a really specific location (within a few pixels) for certain wiring, positioning, and operating operations.  I've found that (1) and (2) are really not an issue in more recent LabVIEW versions, and as for (3)...that's why I'm asking you to try it for a week.  Once you're used to the specific Auto Tool regions for given objects, you should find that your programming speed is improved dramatically.

So that's it for my public service announcement.  I understand that not everyone agrees with me...in fact, my two teammates who hate the Auto Tool still hate it, even after a long discussion the other day in which I brought up all these points.  But if you try it for a week, and make yourself learn its subtleties, you'll definitely be on your way to programming G as fast as me.  😉

-D

P.S. - Check out past nuggets here.

DNatt, NI
Message 1 of 31
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hmmm.. we've talked about it here, it was interesting to see many differents point of view.. Many I should give it a go and try to get use to the automatic tool... or am I just to lazy to make the effort Smiley Wink


We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

Epictetus

Antoine Chalons

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Message 2 of 31
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I agree that the auto tool is great!

I strongly prefer one-handed programming, it leaves my left hand for other tasks (drinking coffee, leafing through some manual or scientific paper, rubbing my chin in deep thoughts, holding the phone, etc.). 😄


@Darren wrote:

... Now, there is an option in Tools > Options that locks the Auto Tool and doesn't let you Tab...I have this feature turned off, because occasionally I need to do something not supported by the Auto Tool, like coloring items.  But as soon as I use the coloring tool, I shift-click to bring up the tools palette so I can turn Auto Tool back on. 


I prefer a slight variation of this:

My auto-tool is locked on and does not let me tab! However if I need to color something, I just shift-right-click and select the coloring tool (or e.g. the text tool for typing items in a ring). When done, I just hit tab to lock the autotool back on. 🙂

Same difference, except that the options are left at the defaults (I consider this an advantage). My version might also be a bit more efficient, because you often need multiple tabs to get the right tool, but I only need a single tab to go back to auto. 😄


LabVIEW Champion. It all comes together in GCentral GCentral
What does "Engineering Redefined" mean??
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Message 3 of 31
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I'm still a relatively "new" LV programmer.  But I started out with the auto tool and only rarely will turn it off now.

Most of the time it just works.   
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Patrick Allen: FunctionalityUnlimited.ca
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Message 4 of 31
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When I switched to LV8 I followed a suggestion of Altenbach to give the Auto- Tool a chance (yes, the forum has some influence on me Smiley Very Happy) and this for more than two weeks (I'm an every-day G-Programmer). I consider it a very suceeded way to program with G, I got very used to it and it is quite intuitive.
But I decided to go back to the manual tool-tabbing. This is because of point three, that it's harder to find the right spots. This is a system-built-in problem, I wouldn't know a way NI could improve the behaviour of the auto-tool to get rid of this propblem. For me it is more effort to find the little spots than pressing the keys.
Maybe it's a problem with my mouse, maybe my bad fine motor skills, but I switched back. On the other hand I don't think that the manual way is worse or better than the other, when you know your keystrokes. In the diagram the <space>- key makes the most of it, for the text tool it's from the arrow one <tab>, from the wiring-tool <space>- <tab>, back again with <space>. Acces to the color-tool the same way Altenbach explained.
And even with the auto-tool you need the other hand: while wiring you need <space> to switch the wire- direction, you need <Ctrl> to use the "switcheroo" (or switcheridoo?) or <Ctrl> to remove the wire-anchor and so on...
I think with the years LV became greater and greater because of the many ways to use it and to get a solution for a specific problem.
Greets, Dave

Message Edited by daveTW on 07-03-2006 11:32 PM

Greets, Dave
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I think it's similar in ways to a discussion about "mouse vs Trackball" we had earlier.

I was talking to my neighbour the other day and he swears by trackballs, since he basically never used a mouse.  I've always used a mouse and unless I get some serious carpal tunnel problems I'll probably never switch. 

Besides Counterstrike with a trackball is just silly. 😛

I'm currently on LV 6.1 and since Darren says the tools should be re-evaluated since it's been continuously improved, I will use his statement in my defence.  The LV 6.1 auto tool is not very useful and disturbs me when I work.

When (Or more likele IF) I upgrade, I'll give it a try, I promise.

Shane.
Using LV 6.1 and 8.2.1 on W2k (SP4) and WXP (SP2)
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"shoneill" <x@no.email> wrote in message news:1151995209308-386580@exchange.ni.com...
I think it's similar in ways to a discussion about "mouse vs Trackball" we had earlier. I was talking to my neighbour the other day and he swears by trackballs, since he basically never used a mouse.&nbsp; I've always used a mouse and unless I get some serious carpal tunnel problems I'll probably never switch.&nbsp; Besides Counterstrike with a trackball is just silly. :pI'm currently on LV 6.1 and since Darren says the tools should be re-evaluated since it's been continuously improved, I will use his statement in my defence.&nbsp; The LV 6.1 auto tool is not very useful and disturbs me when I work.When (Or more likele IF) I upgrade, I'll give it a try, I promise.Shane.


Before the auto tool, I run into some serious carpal tunnel problems... I switched (50% of the time) to a pen tabled, and then used the auto tool as soon as it was available. No more problems...


Regards,


Wiebe.
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Message 7 of 31
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Hi,

Since the discussion here I tried the Automatic tool. As with many things, if it works good it's only getting use to.

After a few weeks ( i don't use LV the every day Smiley Wink ) and forcing myself to keep using the tool I don't want to work without it anymore.

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I believe these comments are in the linked thread a couple people have mentioned, but my summary of my autotool tips:

  • While the autotool is on, if you're hovering over something and not getting the tool you want, try pressing and holding CTRL.  It often changes to the "next most useful" tool for the situation.
  • I'm always amazed at how few people seem to know that even if you don't lock autotool on, SHIFT-TAB re-enables it.  I, like Darren, let myself tab out of autotool, but then SHIFT-TAB and it's back on.
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I also use auto tool, but am occasionally a victim of point 3.  Maybe in the next release, NI could allow in the options (Lord knows there's options for pretty much everything else) menu for the number of pixels the auto tool needs to be from something to 'decide' what tool is to be used.

Maybe that way people who are looking for a little more precision could decide how close their cursor needs to be in order to change to the right tool, and it would allay some of the frustrations of having the auto tool 'decide' too soon.

Just a thought from an otherwise happy auto tool user
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