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NI Lookout to LabView

Has anyone made a transition from NI Lookout to LabView for their HMI/SCADA and control needs?  I am just curious what I am up against as we are considering LabView next year as a replacement as I believe the development times will be lower than most other HMI/SCADA software since it already has a lot of built in functions and the graphics based programming will be easier to learn I believe.  I am no stranger to text based programming such as C/C++ BASIC, and JAVA but it's been awhile since I have used any of these languages and most of the HMI/SCADA software I have looked at so far use a proprietary scripting language with a huge learning curve.  It looks like there will be a huge learning curve with LabView as well, but I do think the transition will be a little easier in the long run.  If anyone has already been through this I would appreciate any feedback you can provide.  So far i am looking at LabView professional and the DSC module.  I'm not sure what other modules NI has available that might be beneficial.  I am also looking at some supplementary text books to go with it.  Thanks !

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I started down this road a few years ago. As you've said there is a huge learning curve. We too build SCADA systems. You will find that the DSC module is very similar to the the data member model of Lookout. Currently most of our systems are a hybrid built partly with LVDSC but but we still use Lookout for the HMI in many cases. I do use Labview as a supplement to Lookout. I find some things are easier in Labview once you get the hang of it, but the HMI is still easier in Lookout. LVDSC is like Lookout that's been fixed. The way I make the hybrid is to build shared variable libraries to handle the PLC communications and database work. The shared variable library appears as a Lookout process, so that integration is easy. The one thing that I have not figured out how to do in Labview is emulate the "hide if off" data member of the Lookout Hypertrend object.  Some items such as the Lookout Multistate are harder to do in Labview. There is good community support with Labview. Good Luck and feel free to pm me for more of my experiences.


Jim Besselman

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I wanted to thank you for your feedback it is greatly appreciated.  I am trying to determine which route would be the best way to go as I am trying to get Capitol approved next year to purchase a new HMI/SCADA software package, I know that LabView is much more than that, but a big portion of it can be used for the same purpose from what I have read about it.  I know the learning curve will be pretty big, but that is going to be the case with any new HMI/SCADA.  NI lookout appears to be a dying product unfortunately so we want to start transitioning away from it over time.  Since you have been developing with LabView for awhile I want to ask another question if I can please.  Let's say I get LabView Full or Professional, probably Professional and the DSC module, since all of our HMI/SCADA processes are used in house would we need lets say a separate run-time license for each machine we develop a process for?  Or can we use it however we need to in that regard.  I figured you might know and thanks for any feedback, I greatly appreciate the information.  Another option I have considered is DAQFactory or something similar which would be great for the HMI portion of a process but not the controls portion as it will require a lot of scripting to achieve the same functionality we get out of our NI lookout processes (" I'm no stranger to text based programming, BUT ") is something I simply don't have a lot of time for as my job also requires me to be on the floor working on machines on a regular basis.  There are a lot of controls we can move to the PLC ladder, but I would like to control as much as possible from the HMI/SCADA as it's much more convenient to manipulate.  For the most part we just use our PLC's as an interface between the hardware and the PC depending on the process and control requirements.

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This discussion could get lengthy. I face a situation somewhat similar to yours except our systems are deployed to our customers facilities but maintained by us. We had been using Lookout exclusively since 1996 and first purchased Labview in 2009. Initially we just used Labview as an add on to Lookout. In 2014 we started deploying the Labview DSC systems. Now to address the questions. 

As for when the runtime license is needed - it depends. If you can architect your system using the server/client model like you would typically do with Lookout using a server process talking to the PLCs and client processes talking to the server process, you can possibly get by with only one runtime license required. This is how our systems are set up. The LVDSC server reside on a real high quality server with a nonvolatile raid controller. This server is where the Citadel database is stored.  Client computers running either Labview runtimes without LVDSC runtime or Lookout can access the server processes on the LVDSC server. These work just like Lookout client processes would. Depending on what you are doing in the client process would determine whether a LVDSC runtime license is required. I try to do any control work in the PLCs it's something they do best and on the server when it's something Labview or Lookout does best. Just building LVDSC processes to connect to the PLCs and log data is just as simple as in Lookout. Working with the data is when the real learning starts. I'd like to continue this, but have to go, will come back later.

Jim B

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