‘“Hidden” Features’ Category Archives


Filtering Search Results in LabVIEW 2015

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW

LabVIEW 2015 has a few “unpublished” features, like the hyperlink display text that I mentioned in my previous post.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



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.


VI Shots Podcast Guest Appearance

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW

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Michael Aivaliotis interviewed me for an episode of his VI Shots podcast.

You can hear us chat about the Bookmarks feature in LabVIEW 2013, secret INI tokens (e.g. enabling Ctrl-B to bold text), and my self-published graphic novel.

VI Shots has other great content including many interviews and tutorials. I hope you check it out!


Close All LabVIEW Windows Except One

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW

I heard a feature request today for a menu item for “Close all windows but this one.”

It’s a reasonable request, but I’m not sure it’s worth adding an item to the (already large) set of menus in LabVIEW today.

That’s because there’s already a way to close windows other than visiting them one by one: the All Windows dialog.

  • From the menu, select Window>>All Windows or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+W.
  • In the dialog, select all, either by using the standard listbox multi-selection (click and Shift+Click) or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A.
  • Deselect the window(s) you want to keep open, e.g. by using Ctrl+Click.
  • Press the Close Windows button.

In addition, when you’re working in a project (which you really should do!), there’s a menu item in the Project Explorer for exactly what was requested: File>>Close All (this Project).

These menu items are handy when you want to “clean up” after debugging many subVIs.


NIWeek 2011

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

It’s almost time for NIWeek 2011!

I’ve looked over the Session Catalog for this year and there are so many great choices that I’m having a hard time narrowing down my list of recommended sessions. So I’ll limit myself to the sessions relating to user interface design with LabVIEW.

First on my list is, of course, my session, co-presented with Simon Hogg: Customizing NI LabVIEW Controls and Indicators, Tuesday (August 2) at 4:45 PM in 13A/B.

You’re probably thinking, “Sounds like things I’ve heard a million times before,” right? I guarantee not! Simon and I will be demonstrating some secret, unpublished features of the Control Editor that are new in LabVIEW 2011. They’re not quite ready for “prime time,” but we’re willing to let a select few start using them!

Other sessions that I recommend include:

  • Building Quality NI LabVIEW User Interfaces, Tuesday (August 2) at 1:00 PM in 13A/B. My colleagues Nitin Thomas and Simon Hogg will cover the broader topic of user interface design in LabVIEW, skipping over customizing controls since that will be covered in my session.
  • Flexible GUI for Vibration Analysis with NI LabVIEW, Tuesday (August 2) at 2:15PM in 11B. Jeremy Weiss from Mechanical Solutions, Inc. will talk about making UIs designed for rotating machinery vibration troubleshooting, including the usage of tree controls and subpanels.
  • User Interface Tips 2.0, Wednesday (August 3) at 4:45 PM in 13A/B. Jonathan Cohn from Bloomy Controls will provide his tips for making the best user interfaces.
  • Introducing NI LabVIEW 2011, Tuesday (August 2) and Wednesday (August 3) at 10:30AM in 13A/B. See all the new features of LabVIEW 2011, including a new style of front panel controls!

Did I miss any sessions you think should be on this list? Please post them in the comments!


Replace and Paste-Replace

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW, User Interface

There are multiple ways to replace things in your VIs. Knowing your different Replace options can help you choose the one that best fits your needs.

Replace Shortcut Menu

On the front panel, you can right-click on a control and choose one of the options from the Replace menu. This method will preserve some things about the original control. Unfortunately, it’s not obvious what things will be preserved. In most cases, LabVIEW will attempt to preserve the label, caption, value and dataflow direction (control/indicator). It may also try to preserve other things, such as the numeric representation, size or color. It’s hard to say what will be preserved without actually doing the replace.

Luckily, you have Undo if a right-click replace operation doesn’t do you what you want. But what do you try next?

Paste-Replace is a method of replacing a control without preserving any of its appearance attributes. It will, however, preserve things like connector pane placement, wire connection and associated block diagram elements (e.g. local variables and implicitly-linked Property/Method nodes). (By the way, right-click Replace preserves these things as well).

To use Paste-Replace:

  1. Place the control you want.
  2. Use Edit>>Cut (from the menu, or via keyboard shortcut) to put it on the clipboard.
  3. Select the control you want to replace.
  4. Use Edit>>Paste.

Note that Paste-Replace is not available when editing the LabVIEW block diagram. On diagrams, you almost always use right-click Replace. However, some structures (such as loops) have special Replace menu options to replace them with other structures without losing their contents.

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LabVIEW 2010 Help Links for Controls

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW

I don’t think I can do a better job of showing off the top new features of LabVIEW 2010 than the official New Features in NI LabVIEW 2010 page or Darren’s nuggets.

So instead I’ll share a small enhancement that you may sometimes find handy.

Have you ever needed to refresh your memory (or teach someone else) the differences between the various LabVIEW graphs and charts? Or what data shapes (arrays, clusters, arrays of clusters, etc.) a graph accepts and how it displays them?

You know it’s all described in the Help, but it’s hard to find the right topic for a particular type of graph or chart, right?

Well, in LabVIEW 2010 you can use the Context Help window, mouse over a control and see a “Detailed Help” link that will take you to the help topic for that type of control.

The link only appears when the VI is in edit mode because the context help on a running VI belongs to you, for whatever description of the control you want to provide for the operator of your VI.


LabVIEW Boolean Control with Labeled States

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW, User Interface

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A friend asked me “what is the best control to use for a Boolean subVI input that has special true/false values, e.g. enabled/disabled?” She was dissatisfied with the “Enabled?” checkbox approach because it didn’t give an explicit name to the other state. Similarly, using the boolean text part with a switch only showed the name of the current state. She wanted a switch that showed the labels for both states.

I gave her this control and asked if it was what she was looking for. She said that it was!

She had known that you could put free labels next to the switch, but not that you could make them “owned” by the control.

You can add decorative elements (e.g. images, decorations, and text) to a control using the Control Editor (Edit>>Customize Control or right-click Advanced>>Customize). When you add them in the Control Editor, they become parts of the control. Then when you use the control on a front panel, it acts as a single item when moving, deleting, etc.

Now, another thing you should consider when making a subVI input with named states is whether it would be better to use an enumeration. This can make the diagram that calls the subVI easier to read. If you do want an enumeration, however, I highly recommend you make it a type definition as well. That way you can edit it later and automatically update all the places it’s used.


The Navigation Window

by Christina in "Hidden" Features, LabVIEW

It’s fun sometimes to hear people ask for a feature and be able to show them that it’s already in LabVIEW. (Of course, it’s also disheartening, because I know it’s hard to find things in LabVIEW and I wish I could make it easier).

Just recently, someone requested a way to see a zoomed-out view of an entire block diagram, highlighting the area that was currently visible in the window.

I showed him the Navigation Window (View>>Navigation Window or Ctrl+Shift+N).

LabVIEW Navigation Window

LabVIEW Navigation Window

The Navigation Window is a resizable, floating window that shows the active front panel or block diagram. If you click in the Navigation Window, LabVIEW will center the visible region around the point you clicked on.

Note that the Navigation Window does not work on the panel of running VIs, because we don’t want to degrade the VI’s performance.

The Navigation Window has been in LabVIEW since version 7.1.