‘LabVIEW’ Category Archives


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.


Custom Wire Appearance in LabVIEW

by Christina in LabVIEW, LVOOP

Have you ever wanted to customize the appearance of a type def wire, e.g. by making it a different color? Unfortunately, you can’t.

But you can customize the appearance of wires for a given LabVIEW Class (LVClass) type! This is another way that LVClasses are like type defs with superpowers.

To customize an LVClass wire appearance, right-click on the LVClass item in the Project tree and select Properties.

In the Properties dialog, select the Wire Appearance category and change the radio button to “Use custom design.”

Then you can have fun playing with the pattern, colors and size!


Intro to LVOOP – Part 1

by Christina in LabVIEW, LVOOP

After talking to a few people who were learning LabVIEW Object-Oriented Programming (LVOOP) at NIWeek, I decided to revisit an introduction to LVOOP here on my blog.

You can think of a LabVIEW Class (LVClass) as a cluster with superpowers. An LVClass has many of the advantages of a type definition but it also gives you much more.

Creating a LabVIEW Class

To create an LVClass, you should be in a Project. (It’s not required, but I strongly recommend it).

Right-click on a target (such as My Computer) in your Project Explorer window and select “New>>Class.”

A dialog will ask you to name your LVClass. Let’s say you name it “Widget.” Two items will appear in your Project tree: Widget.lvclass and Widget.ctl.

The CTL item is not a separate file on disk. It is the private data control for the LVClass. Every LVClass must have one (and only one) private data control, and it is saved in the .lvclass file on disk.

Edit the CTL file and you will see an empty cluster. This is the heart of your LVClass. It is where you define the data members.

Let’s say you want two data members: a Color box and a Boolean. You simply add controls to the cluster.

You may think there is a similarity between this Widget class private data control and a type definition. And you would be correct! But the users of this LVClass cannot unbundle the cluster to access the elements – only VIs that are members of the LVClass can do that.

If you want VIs outside of the LVClass to know about a data member – for example, to be able to read the value of the color box – then you need to create a VI for Data Member Access. Rather than bundling/unbundling the cluster, VIs outside of the class must use the interface VI.

So you can think of an LVClass as being like a type def cluster that’s a “black box” to the VIs that use it. They can “see” the interfaces (e.g. that they can read a color) but they have no idea what else is in the cluster.

The encapsulation of the LVClass also makes it easy to perform actions whenever a data member is read or written. As the designer of the LVClass, you know that there is no way a VI can read or write these data members without going through the VI interfaces you have created for the LVClass.

More on LVClasses later! If you have any questions on the basics, feel free to post them in the Comments. If you have any questions beyond the basics, there’s this place online where the most amazing experts hang out called LAVA… 🙂


LabVIEW 2012 Subdiagram Labels

by Christina in LabVIEW

LabVIEW 2012 introduces a feature requested on the Idea Exchange: Subdiagram labels.

These labels are a part of structures such as while loops and case structures. Unlike free labels placed inside the structure, a subdiagram label automatically resizes with the structure.

You can also color the label using the Coloring (aka paintbrush) tool. Select the Coloring tool using the Tools palette, which is shown using the View>>Tools Palette menu.

Since you can also color the structure itself, you can create interesting effects such as this:


LabVIEW 2012 Project Templates and Sample Projects

by Christina in LabVIEW

In LabVIEW 2012, new Project templates and Sample Projects help you get started with a project as quickly as possible.

Some of the best weapons against “spaghetti code” – diagrams that are hard to read and impossible to maintain – are design patterns such as the Simple State Machine and Queued Message Handler. The Project templates promote starting with one of these tried-and-true designs.

You can also create your own Project templates and Sample projects, but I’ll talk about that more in a future post.

To use the new Project Templates and Sample Projects, you’ll use the Create Project dialog. You can access this dialog by clicking the Create Project button on the LabVIEW 2012 Getting Started window. It’s also in the File menu and the Project menu.


The Create Project dialog lists the available Project templates and Sample Projects. I am only showing the core set; modules and toolkits can install additional items.

If necessary, you can narrow your choices by selecting a category in the left-hand column or typing keywords in the Search box.

After selecting your starting point, you click Next. Depending on the item you have chosen, you may see a different dialog than the one below. For the Simple State Machine, you need to decide your project’s name and location on disk. You can optionally prefix your file names (in case you want to make all your VI names unique across multiple projects) and define a custom icon overlay.


When you click Finish, you will have a new project to work with. This project is a customized copy of the template, so you don’t need to worry about edits to the VIs interfering with other applications (which can happen when people edit examples).

You can now open the Main VI and explore the contents of your project. Areas where you will probably want to focus on writing your own functionality are highlighted with blue comments. Here is the Main VI of the Simple State Machine template:

You may also want to review the Project Documentation, which explains the template (or Sample Project) in great detail.

We believe that the Project templates and Sample Projects will not only get you to a working application faster, but also lay the groundwork for applications that can be extended and maintained long into the future.


LabVIEW 2012 Getting Started Window

by Christina in LabVIEW

When you first launch LabVIEW 2012, you’ll see a Welcome pane with resources for learning about LabVIEW and the new features in this version.

  • The first link is for the NI LabVIEW Skills Guide, which I mentioned in an earlier post.
  • The second is for the list of new features.
  • The third link is a new Help topic that guides you through the recommended process for upgrading your VIs to the latest version of LabVIEW.

Initial Appearance

After you close the Welcome pane (and you can uncheck the Show on launch box if you don’t want it to appear every time you launch LabVIEW), you’ll see the redesigned Getting Started window:

There are two basic points of entry: do you want to create a project or open an existing file?

Note that we are strongly encouraging everyone to work in projects. However, New VI is still in the menu if you need it.

Along the bottom, you have resources and news. Click on the links to bring up the Find Drivers and Add-ons pane, the Community and Support pane, or the Welcome pane (which you saw on first launch).

Recent Items

After you create a project or open files, the Getting Started window will display recently-used items.

If you want to see more items, you can resize the entire window. If you want to keep items from “falling off” the list, you can pin them by mousing over them and clicking the pin button that appears.

I hope you enjoy using the new Getting Started window!


NI LabVIEW Skills Guide

by Christina in LabVIEW, Training

One of the coolest new features of LabVIEW 2012 isn’t even in LabVIEW itself. I’m talking about the new LabVIEW Skills Guide. LabVIEW 2012 promotes this website on the Getting Started window, but you don’t need LabVIEW 2012 to access it.

The LabVIEW Skills Guide strives to be the fastest path to success with LabVIEW and National Instruments hardware. If you’re new to LabVIEW, it helps you learn the skills you need. If you’re training a colleague, it provides you with the tools to help. Even if you’ve been using LabVIEW for years, you may discover a new area of interest!

We’d love to hear your feedback on how well the LabVIEW Skills Guide works for you and suggestions for future enhancements.


LabVIEW Core 3 Training Videos

by Christina in LabVIEW, Training

There is a channel on YouTube providing lessons from LabVIEW Core 3. Here’s the description:

This is a pilot project driven from National Instruments UK. Leave your comments, what you like or what you did not like, to guide future development of our course formats.

The third course of the National Instruments LabVIEW learning path, LabVIEW Core 3, increases proficiency by exposing you to best practices for designing, developing, testing, and deploying LabVIEW applications.

You need access to LabVIEW Core 3 course manual, to be able to complete the exercises and course project. If you have a current software contract (SSP) with NI, you can get all 38 modules in DVD and course manual for £179 (GPB), equivalent to 56% discount, directly from NI UK Office at sandra.taylor@ni.com or call us on +44(0)1635 572 400.

PS. As disclosure, I do work for National Instruments and I am passionate about training and improving skills of LabVIEW users.


NI LabVIEW 2011

by Christina in LabVIEW

LabVIEW 2011 Panel

I am thrilled that National Instruments is now releasing LabVIEW 2011.

LabVIEW 2011 is, in my opinion, the best version of LabVIEW ever.

As you can see from my screenshot, we’ve given LabVIEW a fresh new look with a set of controls that we’ve named “Silver” controls in honor of the 25th anniversary of LabVIEW.

Also, customers have told us that they want to accelerate their productivity and we’ve made that our priority. We improved editor responsiveness. We increased test coverage. We implemented time-saving features from Idea Exchange.

And we’ve paved the way to make things even better in future versions. In our continued commitment to the stability of our platform, we’ve added a new error reporting mechanism, making it easier than ever to report crashes with accompanying information to help us diagnose issues.

Learn more about LabVIEW 2011 on ni.com.

If you’re coming to NIWeek, you can also come to my session to learn more about how Simon Hogg and I implemented those beautiful Silver controls!