LabVIEW 2016 and NI Technology Preview

NIWeek 2016 was awesome and inspiring. Thank you to everyone who attended, presented, or worked on the logistics of this amazing event!

The big news for LabVIEW was the release of LabVIEW 2016 with a new addition to the G language. (We don’t get to say that very often.) Jeff Kodosky, the Father of LabVIEW himself, presented on Channels (also known as Channel Wires). I wish everyone could have attended these sessions to see Jeff’s enthusiasm for this language construct, which makes communication between parallel loops easier to configure and more recognizable on block diagrams. And his plans to extend their capabilities could make them even more powerful in the future!

The most exciting aspect of NIWeek for me personally was the official launch of the NI Technology Preview. If you participate in the program, you’ll be able to see some of the things that I’ve been working on in recent years and provide feedback to shape the future of NI’s software platform.

Finally, the big news for NIWeek itself is that NIWeek 2017 will be held May 22 to 25, so attendees won’t have to endure sweltering Texas heat! I hope to see you there!


Filtering Search Results in LabVIEW 2015

LabVIEW 2015 has a few “unpublished” features, like the hyperlink display text that I mentioned in my previous post.

These features have some rough edges but are available if you want to experiment with them and give feedback to the R&D team.

One of these “secret” features is the ability to filter search results.

If you use the Find dialog (Edit>>Find and Replace or Ctrl+F) and get more than one result, you see the Search Results window:


To filter these results, just start typing. A box appears with the filter text and the item count shows the number of items in the filtered set.


To filter the test results further, include multiple filter terms separated by spaces. Only results that include all the terms will be shown.SearchResultsFilteredAND


LabVIEW 2015

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW, NI Week

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It’s NIWeek 2015, and NI has announced LabVIEW 2015!

Check out the press release, watch the What’s New in LabVIEW video, and read about the new features in the Upgrade Notes.

The biggest “new feature” isn’t really a feature… it’s improved performance and stability. Customers have told us how important these are, and NI has continued to prioritize these enhancements.

But there are plenty of other enhancements as well. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Easy hyperlinks in free labels. Just type a URL (http://ni.com) into a free label and it automatically becomes an active hyperlink. Here’s a secret trick that we’re not publishing in the documentation yet: if you put text in angle brackets after the URL, it will become the display text. Try it out by putting http://ni.com<National Instruments> into a free label and then committing the edit.
  • Right-click (shortcut) menu plug-ins. Not only does LabVIEW 2015 include a set of handy additional shortcut menus, it contains a mechanism so that you can write your own!
  • Add and remove space. You’ve been able to Ctrl+drag to add space to diagrams for some time, but now you can also Ctrl+Alt+drag to remove space. And the results are “live” in both directions! Try it out to see how great it looks.
  • Array probes show multiple elements. This is so nice when debugging. Array probes “size to fit” their panes.
  • No prompts for subVIs from missing components. If you’re opening a VI that uses a toolkit, module, driver, or third-party add-on that you don’t have on your machine, LabVIEW won’t stop the load process to ask you to locate it. When the VI finishes loading, LabVIEW will tell you which components were missing.

If you can’t join us at NIWeek this year, be sure to check out the live stream of the keynotes at http://www.ni.com/niweek/livestream/

Darren Nattinger of LabVIEW R&D will be onstage on Tuesday (August 4, 2015) to show some of the LabVIEW 2015 features!


LabVIEW 2015 Beta

by Christina in LabVIEW

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In case you haven’t heard, the LabVIEW 2015 Beta program is currently active. I’ve already improved one new feature based on user feedback, so I encourage you to try out the Beta and join the discussion on the private Beta forum.

Visit ni.com/beta to sign up!


Darren’s Guide to SubVI Panels as Modal Dialogs

by Christina in LabVIEW

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Darren Nattinger has posted an excellent “How To Guide” for using subVI panels as modal dialogs on his LabVIEW Artisan blog.


Silver Decorations in LabVIEW 2014

by Christina in LabVIEW

In LabVIEW 2014, we’ve added a Decorations palette to the Silver category. It contains some shapes that we believe work well with Silver controls.

The palette looks like this:

SilverDecorations2014[Note: You may notice I have the Silver category configured as my top category. You can change visible categories by clicking the Customize button and selecting Change Visible Palettes. You can reorder the categories by dragging the handle to the left of the category name].

This palette contains four of the previously-unpublished decorations that we added to LabVIEW 2011 (which you can see in New 2011 Decorations.vi).

Some of the Silver decorations look different on Windows than they do on Mac/Linux, specifically with the gradients, drop shadows, and anti-aliased circles.


Silver Decorations Mac

I also added a new decoration to 2014 which didn’t make it to the palettes. It’s a rectangle with very slightly rounded corners. The advantage of using this decoration over using a similar bitmap image is that this decoration can be resized and colored.

UnpublishedDecoration2014Download the Unpublished 2014 Decoration VI here.

Feel free to use it in VIs, but note that if you save it for versions earlier than LabVIEW 2014, it will change into a regular rectangle.


Moved to New Web Host Successfully

by Christina in Administrivia

Good news! A colleague at NI has helped me move Eyes on VIs to a new host. You should continue to have uninterrupted access to all the existing content.


Blog Shutting Down, Hopefully Temporarily

by Christina in Administrivia

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I regret to say that the Eyes on VIs blog will be shutting down on Wednesday, August 13, 2014.

I hope to find a different web host to bring it back later.

I’ll let everyone know via Twitter (@eyesonvis) if/when the blog finds a new home.

Edit: One of my colleagues at NI is going to help me get the blog on a new host! If we can’t get it up and running before the current hosting ends, it might be offline temporarily, but it should be back. Thank you to all of the others who offered to help with hosting!



by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW

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Have you ever been editing text in LabVIEW and tried to use Ctrl-B to make text bold? It doesn’t work, because Ctrl-B is the keyboard shortcut for Remove Broken Wires.

In LabVIEW 2013 and later, however, you can use Ctrl-B to make text bold with the INI token QuickBold=True.

It’s not an official feature… more like a lab experiment that we’ve let out into the wild. It’s highly unusual for an application to use the same keyboard shortcut for completely different menu items based on the current state of the editor. But, I have to admit, in practice it seems pretty intuitive.

The reason this can work is that Remove Broken Wires is disabled while you are editing text. The unpublished INI token re-enables the menu item and makes it perform the same action as selecting Style>Bold from the Text Settings pull-down menu on the toolbar. So, to be clear, it only works in situations where you have text selected and the Text Settings ring is available.

If you use this “hidden feature” and think NI should make it the default behavior for LabVIEW, please consider voting for the suggestion on Idea Exchange.


LabVIEW 2014

by Christina in LabVIEW

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Make informed decisions fast with LabVIEW 2014! Learn more at ni.com/labview/whatsnew


Here are some of my favorite features of this latest release:

Preserving Data when Updating Type Definitions

Previous versions of LabVIEW would sometimes revert the values of type def instances to defaults when updating to a new version of the type def. This was, obviously, undesirable, but it was also a very difficult problem to solve. There is no way LabVIEW can know the user’s intention when converting values from one arbitrary type to another. However, LabVIEW can, if needed, ask the user to approve of the value when the type def updates.

In LabVIEW 2014, if a type def cannot automatically update without possible data loss, it will have a new right-click option to Review and Update from Type Def.

Invoking the menu item will open a dialog where you can review all instances of the type def in memory, and approve the new values. You can also modify the values before approving them.

New Quick Drop Keyboard Shortcut

Harness the power of VI Scripting with Quick Drop keyboard shortcuts! These are keyboard shortcuts used in combination with the keyboard shortcut for Quick Drop (which is Ctrl+Space on Windows).

There’s a new one in LabVIEW 2014 to wire all the selected objects together intelligently.

Review all the available shortcuts by invoking Quick Drop and selecting the Ctrl-Key Shortcuts tab.

You can get additional plugins from the LabVIEW Community, or write your own!

Replace Tunnel on a Case Structure with the Selector

This idea came from the Idea Exchange: a small but helpful feature that makes replacing a case structure tunnel with the selector terminal a simple, one-step operation. Just right-click on a tunnel and select Replace with Case Selector.

Recognizing Missing VIs from Known Packages

Have you ever tried to open a VI written by someone else only to find it had missing subVIs that you couldn’t identify? In LabVIEW 2014, if the VIs are from known toolkits, modules, and add-ons, LabVIEW will tell you so in the Context Help and the Error List window.

Web links for VI Help

Instead of linking a VI’s Help to a file on disk, you can configure it to a URL. Keeping your documentation on-line allows you to update it independently of releasing new versions of your package.

64-bit LabVIEW for Mac OS X

For those of us who use the Mac platform, the 64-bit version of LabVIEW for Mac OS X is a major milestone. Using the modern Cocoa APIs, LabVIEW is now more at home on OS X than it has ever been before. And it finally displays POSIX paths instead of HFS!


There are many more features than I listed here, but I wanted to underscore the “non-features” that also get priority: stability and performance. There were times in the past when LabVIEW users complained they were overwhelmed by upgrading, and LabVIEW had “too many” new features. In recent years, we have sought a better balance of new features and improving existing functionality. Read more about this topic in the white paper LabVIEW Accelerates Productivity Through Improved Stability. So when you see those dialogs asking you to submit crash data to NI, please choose to send! And keep in mind that engineers in R&D actually read what you write in the comment box, so we’d appreciate it if you could tell us something about what you were doing when you encountered the problem.