I was triggered today by a LinkedIn post, showing LabVIEW doing something trivial and it got me thinking about the current marketing focus.
First let's travel back to 1996 and under the influence of a Mr Jon Conway the company I worked for declared all production support software would now be written in LabVIEW. As a text-based programmer I was quite unimpressed with this decision!
"Why would I use that £$%%!! toy language" I think may have been my response. That was my impression, LabVIEW was not a proper tool, they had replaced my Snap-on toolkit with a Fisher Price Toddler Toolkit.
My first project was rewriting a SCADA system in 6 days, a project that originally took 6 months in Turbo-Pascal! I was convinced and the rest is history.
Since then we've completed hundreds of complex projects in a wide variety of fields only one of which could be deemed childish (Chelsea Flower Show pond rippling system, done mainly for laughs).
Our software tests aerospace components, satellite parts, controls hydro-electric system, measures hundreds of millions of samples over hundreds of channels, monitors and records the health of workers, builds car body panels. We've controlled things down to nanometers, worked on space weapons, moulded titanium, measured razor blades and managed laboratories. Our process is quality assured to ISO9001 and approved by Lloyds Register for ship use. This is a very small subset of what we do and I could mention loads of companies and 100s of programmers that do this kind of thing too. Stuff that would blow your mind.
I think sometimes this message is lost in the "let's get kids involved with LabVIEW" competition going on with languages like Python.
So yes kids can use LabVIEW, kids are capable of all sorts of great things. The important message I would like to see is that LabVIEW is a serious tool for serious work, the fact that it is fun and engaging is a testament to the design effort applied by many and the vision of Mr Jeff Kodosky.
Don't get from this that I want to discourage kids from learning programming, I just don't want to drown LabVIEW in it. The message may actually cause university grads to avoid using LabVIEW because they perceive it the way I initially did: a £$%% toy language!
I'm thinking of forcing anyone who stands on the GDevCon stage to introduce themselves with their favourite project.
How about we put some impressive examples in the comments? Boast a bit, blow my mind.