Eric Reffett announces LabVIEW Community Edition at GDevCon#2 in Birmingham, UK.This surprise was definitely not expected by anybody in the audience of GDevCon#2: NI announced LabVIEW Community Edition! This new, free version of LabVIEW is for noncommercial, nonacademic use.
Eric Reffett, the LabVIEW and LabVIEW NXG planning lead, literally went the extra mile(s) by traveling to the UK to announce the new NI product offering and answer questions.
As part of its commitment to empowering the LabVIEW community, NI revealed this huge news at a community event instead of an NI conference. As a board member of GDevCon Limited, I was excited that NI chose GDevCon#2, an independent conference open to all graphical developers, to unveil its LabVIEW Community Edition.
What exactly is this new edition?
LabVIEW Community Edition features all the functionality of LabVIEW Professional Edition, including the ability to help you build and deploy executables. Most importantly, it is completely free and does not have any watermarks on it. In a nutshell:
All the features of LabVIEW Professional Edition for free; no watermarks
Compatibility with both LabVIEW 2020 and LabVIEW NXG
Noncommercial and nonacademic usage
Annual activation to maintain access
A release date of May 2020 (a beta will be available in November 2019)
Is it free, as in beer?
Yes, but you must use it only for noncommercial and nonacademic projects. According to the NI End User License Agreement (EULA), “If you have acquired a license to LabVIEW Community Edition or LabVIEW NXG Community Edition, you may use the Software solely for your personal, noncommercial, nonindustrial purposes. You may not use the Software for teaching or research at a degree-granting educational institution.”
Using LabVIEW Community Edition at a place of business or to create test systems, exe's, toolkits, and so on that you intend to make money from would not be consistent with the permissions of the EULA. Similarly, students, educators, and researchers would break the EULA if they used LabVIEW Community Edition to work on coursework or research for an academic institution.
Users must purchase a license for commercial and academic use cases. LabVIEW Community Edition’s licensing policies are the same as NI‘s current licensing policies.
Who’s it for?
LabVIEW Community Edition is for anybody not pursuing commercial goals but wanting to get creative using a graphical programming language.
For example, you can work on a private project on your PC at home and then take it to work to commercialise it using your commercially licensed copy of LabVIEW. Potential use cases include:
Home hobbyist projects
Free projects or add-ons for the community
Preparation work for certifications
Skill upkeep; exploration of new ideas outside work
LabVIEW Community Edition also allows students and academics to install and use LabVIEW in situations that their academic site licenses don’t cover. They can install it on their PCs and use it at home.
What about hobbyist hardware?
To ensure this edition of LabVIEW works well for hobbyists, NI updated the LINX Toolkit for supporting hobbyist hardware targets like BeagleBone, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino and bundled it with LabVIEW Community Edition. The toolkit is part of the community edition‘s platform release.
More importantly, the no-commercial-projects limitation for the LINX toolkit has been removed, so you can tinker around with your hobby projects using LabVIEW Community Edition at home and then take your work to the office to industrialize and commercialize your hobby projects with a commercially licensed version of LabVIEW.
When will it be available?
NI will release a beta version of LabVIEW Community Edition in November of this year, at the same time as LabVIEW 2019 SP1, through the Technology Preview Program (all normal disclaimers regarding software timelines apply). NI’s first full release of LabVIEW Community Edition is scheduled for May 2020.
A beta version of the LINX Toolkit is available now on the Tech Preview, but the first full release is also scheduled for May 2020. You can learn more by viewing NI’s Software Technology Preview website.
In case you’re wondering, though the Technology Preview Program requests a valid SN with an active SSP contract, this is not required for the LabVIEW Community Edition Beta.
Edit November 13: The Beta of LabVIEW Community Edition is now available at ni.com/beta!
What does this mean for the LabVIEW Community?
Saying that I’m excited about this doesn’t do my emotional state any justice at all. I’m thrilled! I do believe that NI’s bold step might finally give LabVIEW the chance it deserves to grow its user base on a really large scale.
It’s obvious that giving software away for free lowers the entry barrier for those tinkerers, students, and hobbyists who are already in love with LabVIEW but who do not already own an appropriate license for it.
The LabVIEW ecosystem will benefit greatly from this strategic move—probably way more than from anything else ever done in that regard. The effects that I hope this will have on growing the community go way beyond the obvious increase in LabVIEW users. Growing the user base will make the community a better place for all of us. We will see more tools, not only from NI and the LabVIEW community but also from third parties who will take greater interest in our expanding graphical programming world. Eventually, we might see all sorts of tools pop up supporting LabVIEW and the G language—tools that other, text-based languages have been leveraging for years.
As an entrepreneur, I expect to benefit from the growing number of potential customers. But even more, I hope to see more people use LabVIEW—or at least be fairly familiar with it—which eventually enlarges our pool of potential employees. How great is that?