Random Ramblings on LabVIEW Design

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Re: LabVIEW for Grown-ups

Active Participant

Hello Graphical Programming Grown-ups.

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.

Lots of Love

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

Comments
Knight of NI

Let's see here.  In previous jobs with LabVIEW I have tested space avionics (the Shuttle, Delta, Atlas, and Aries rockets), massive amounts of data processing of flight data for an aircraft engine company, a process enforcing that a certain "Jesus Nut" is actually torqued properly (the one nut the engine manufacturer claims holds the whole engine together), was working on an automatic version of that for a different set of nuts when I left that position, military grade amplifier testing (my system took a couple of minutes to measure what it was taking the tech a full week + to do, coded and tested in about 200 hours), injector testing for a medical company, a few DAQ replacements to a cRIO that involved communicating with PLCs (greatly increased reliability over the PC solution), and now I am testing...wait, I have already said too much.

 

My first encounter with the power of LabVIEW was when I completely redesigned a product that took the "senior engineer" a year+ to do in Borland C++.  I had 95% of the code completely done in a week.  After that, it was a few non-concentrated weeks integrating with the hardware.


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A great place to find impressive examples is at the NI Engineering Impact Awards, e.g.

 

One of our favourite projects at my company is a high-speed, high-precision control and logging system for multiple cameras rotating about the belly of a plane: ftp://ftp.ni.com/pub/branches/asean/2016_eia_eye_in_the_sky.pdf While LabVIEW offers great advantages over C++/Python, I believe that its advantages over VHDL (for FPGA programming) is even more substantial.

 

I don't have an anecdote on how LabVIEW left some poor unenlightened engineer biting the dust, but I do know that we would've needed much more time to program our FPGA without LabVIEW. Not to mention, we can confidently say that our FPGA code is readable, which I've never seen/heard any VHDL programmer say!

 


@swatts wrote:

"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.

I recently encountered someone who had the same perception, and who's trying to push his company from LabVIEW to a C++-based toolkit. It was in a C++ forum and I had my C++ hat on so I didn't try to dissuade him directly, but I tried to highlight the importance of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our tools: https://forum.qt.io/topic/90276/showdown-qt-vs-labview

 


@swatts wrote:

 

I think sometimes this message is lost in the "let's get kids involved with LabVIEW" competition going on with languages like Python. 

NI's current marketing push that NXG means "no programming required!" is not helping on this front.

Certified LabVIEW Developer

Active Participant

Welcome to my blog JKSH

Your response is a thing of beauty! Way better than my article, which is aggravating!

And your application kicks all kinds of ass.

On the marketing side of things I never saw the harm in marketing LabVIEW as a decent and rich GPL. If you look at NIs financial reports their growth is in large, complex systems. You would think that having tools and techniques to program these would be the loudest message I hear.

And great shout-out to the impact awards, it's always on of my favourite parts of NIWeek as I like to beak at what others are doing.

Cheers

Steve

 

Active Participant

Nice one Tim,

Again it's an exciting message to talk about how much LabVIEW is used to chuck things into space!