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NI's move to subscription software

Hi Eric, here comes some free feedback from one of the little engenering companies NI were growing with - and NI was growing on top of. ;-). My personal summary of a beautifull and scary relation with no future. Sadly, but true. Let me just recap here pls: 

To be honest and in short: Ni moving to a subscription modell? That's it -finally- for me with LabView and NI after a long time of "suffering" NI politics as a small engenering company. Why is that? I was with LV and NI since 1999 and something like LV4.1. We used Labview at CERN for some data acquisition and control and later I built a little company on top of a SW-Framework I built since 2000. At that time nobody at NI cared about "frame works" ;-). I was one of the small "nerd-companies" introducing "their tool" LV in several companies. So my job was also "opening the doors" for this "drawing tool LV" in some quite big companies ;-). It was always a little fight; which i did fight for NI. Kind of technical sales, unpaid of course ;-). It never paid back. You remember e.g. Jim Kring and the "accidentally released scripting feature"? What a "political mess". Being a top notch evaluator and integrator at those times we always got the full blown developer suite just for free. I could write a book about this times... Great times! We heavily supported the sales team selling stuff they barely understood (cRIO, RT, FGPG, multichannel SoundAndVibration etc). We created several testbeds and code examples for NI and reported them deep hidden bugs in their tools. Several hundreds of hours of "free developer work" for NI. At that time I knew about everybody at the Munich team, they even wanted to hire me twice. Anyway. My wife later got seriously sick and I had to care about here; and at that times they wanted me to force to become CLD/CLA. I refused of course. I didn't and don't let a supplier force my life and business decisions in that personal manner. Then they made me pay ~1200€/y just that I could call their support team; in case of bugs ... ? It was very tough to realise that I built parts of my career in full dependency to a single vendor; in a closed source environment. I went throug "version migration hell" several times and finally updated only every 3 years or so. So it was the classical single vendor lock in. I became a victim in a "golden tool cage". Ni became big and fat and GREEDY-like hell. Today I know it's the default way american shareholder companies go if the grow fast and see the big money at the horizon. Now at the end of my career -being an senior guy- I head solely towards open source platforms and tools. It's all about avoiding dependency to a single vendor. I had cool and successfull times with NI, but finaly they overdid it. R.I.P code freedom and the cool innovative company they were twenty years ago ;-)! Just my 2ct and personal experience ;-)!



Being a swiss knife for half a century...
Message 41 of 44

Here is my situation.
I develop applications with LabVIEW since 2000 in a small manifaturing company.
Initially we have a SSP contract. Now we don't have SSP anymore due to its cost and still at 2017version.
At the moment I develop a couple of application a year for industry 4.0 machinery.
But the most of time is mantaining of old project.
I was an enthusistic of labVIEW hoping to see it as an open source software on every PC and I was very happy when i heard about Community version...but it seems clear since the beginning that NI was boicotting it. You should went to a little corner on the bottom of the NI products to discover a free version of labVIEW (now it's a little bit easier but not so clear), but Should i have to pay thousand dollar a year to a couple of app that read and write values from PLCs?
If this is the direction...I really don't know If i will continue with labVIEW..even if I really don't want to learn a textual programming language,its syntax etc..
But this will be a company manager decision, not mine and I risk my job for this 'cause I only know LabVIEW as programming language and I use it for every kind of stuff, from data acquisition, to vision application. Motion, Db interfaces, MES and so on...

Message 42 of 44

Day 2 after realizing fully what has happend.. a subscription model is fine, however I was expecting this to lower the bar to start using LabView. After I've seen the prices & conditions this could kill NI..

I am using NI stuff and LabView for more than 2 decades and still believe that with LabView you can do the work of 5 programmers and their manager*. Not in entering code, but all other aspects of developing and maintaining a code base . This saves so much time & communication over the lifetime of code.


So is it worth it to pay 3k a year for a Labview license? Yes! As long as it is part of the processes in your company. Even if my believe is way off, 3k isn't much for working more efficient.




Reading the threads, there are many cases similar to mine.


I am having a perpetual license (~6k once) with a SSP (~1.5k/year), updating the LabView version I am using every ~3 years. Now, the best 'offer' I get is to pay the SSP cost for the next 3 years, after which the perpetual license stops and yearly costs at least double. So the only valid option for me is to keep my perpetual license, work with LV2021 for the next 3~5 years and then start with the subscription model**, based on a new license (keeping the perpetual license).


Effectivly with this move NI ensures that they will not receive any revenue from me (at least for LV) for some time. And this is a use case where I plan to keep using LabView, but it just doesn't make sense for me to do something else. I am probably not the only one in a situation like this.


However, in my view the biggest problem by far is the threshold for new people/companies to start working with LabView.


Would I suggest anyone to start using LabView at this time? Definitly not. This has been my advice for a few years already, because of the trend of the last decade:


NI's strategy is focussed on big (semiconductor) companies and engineering firms that use NI products to solve 'real-world' problems for their non-techincal customers. Small companies are 'not interesting'.


What are the problems with this (in my opinion):


a) These first companies have a user base that can effectivly use the effiency gains LabView has to offer compared to other tools. In this user base there are some highly experienced persons and a group of junior developers. The experienced developers will retire (soon). The junior developers will move to other companies that don't use LabView.


The companies they leave to are in the same situation as the small companies NI is neglicting at this time. These companies can be in a position where they would like to 'give LabView a try'. This can be because of NI marketing but more likely because of some 'random person' that used LabView in the past and liked it a lot. There are serious hurdles to take for these companies to give it a try. So if they will give it a try, it will be for a minor project.


NI was already making it hard for the 'random person' to make a case to start using it. It requires a significant investment for something that is already free (as in free beer) in the mind of the management ('why not use phyton?').


As a result, the process I see at all LabView meetings is that the groups are getting smaller and the people get less or white hair.


With this decreasing user base in mind, starting an investment (time & money) in LabView is a huge risk.


Now they raised the bar even more.


I hope NI reads these comments and starts working on growing the user base. In these threads I hear roughly the same sound: "LabView is great, please don't kill it"



* in use cases where performance isn't cirtical and code is written for a single use case, and programmers are at the same knowledge level in both enviornments

** I will probably be using it because of my situation, however I can imagine many companies using this period to transition away to alternative solution




Message 43 of 44

Good observations, beuvink. But what NI marketing doesn't understand is that the big semiconductor companies are balking at the prices too. My team at Micrel switched to Python after my departure. My team at Applied Materials stopped renewing at LabVIEW 2016. What I fear is that NI is veering into a destructive feedback situation where price increases lead to a declining customer base for amortizing product maintenance and development costs that requires more price increases. If I was in charge of LabVIEW, I would take an entirely different direction and leverage technical changes to expand the customer base to advance incremental improvements in price competitiveness.

Message 44 of 44