Todd knows how to push my buttons so to speak and so he sent me the following challenge late last night:
Always being up for a challenge I looked at the original article (available at cars.com) and set about creating the same UI in LabVIEW.
About an hour later I had this:
A fully functional implementation of the same UI in LabVIEW without using any tricks such as importing .NET controls or using picture controls. I used the original images with a few tweaks here and there so I can't take credit for designing the UI but it's nice to know that it's relatively easy to import fantastic looking graphics into LabVIEW and have them be more than just decorations.
If you'd like to play around with the VI I've attached it below.
So to answer Todd's question. Yes, I can, and so can you!
While custom UI controls and indicators are examples of how the interface that engineers are using to break the human/machine interface barrier, it's also very important to know the simple guidelines for creating intuative user experiences. Christina Rogers' article in this quarter's "Measurement and Automation" newsletter covers some of the basiscs and is well worth a look. Also, I wrote a couple of blog articles a while back about user interface design that you might find useful:
Why would I bother creating, and why should you bother joining a "UI Interest Group"? I mean we're all engineers or otherwise technically oriented folks, what matters is that our VIs work right? Nobody cares if we slack off a little on the presentation. Right?
For many of us I'm guessing that isn't the case. Presentation matters. Using the default front panel indicators in LabVIEW is great for quick tests but once you start making larger applications that more people will use or projects you intend to share with others or even demos of your work you tend to want to dress things up a little nicer.
This group is a meeting place for people who care about how their front panels look. Here we can share advice, custom controls, XControls and provide feedback for NI as to what we want to be able to do with our front panels. I've started the group by posting a set of custom controls I have created that follow the same visual style as the ni.com homepage. Go ahead, install them and see how you like them. I have some more partial themes I can clean up and post if there is any interest...