By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
A couple of weeks ago I was in Austin, TX, at the National Instruments Graphical Systems Design conference, which is the company’s annual user conference and partner exhibition. Have I ever mentioned that I love user conferences? There is nothing like the energy and information you’ll derive from attending an event where everyone is into the same thing you’re into. You’ve got to go to the big hootenanny put on by the developer who makes the stuff that you’ve built your career on.
Anyway, one of the highlights of the NI event was the introduction of LabVIEW 2011. This happens to be the 25th anniversary version of this system design software and my 16th year writing about it. What can I tell you that you don’t know? LabVIEW is everywhere, and it is mission critical wherever it’s at work.
Now, LabVIEW has always been about enabling innovation by enabling engineers to work efficiently. One key to the efficiency is getting you out of the business of typing in code. You graphically build your applications for control, embedded systems, automated test and measurement, validation, and what have you. So, rather than plod along in a syntax-based language developing an application, you build it like a flow chart or block diagram and the software creates and compiles the code. This allows you to visualize the complex operations of your program rather than imagine that lines of code will perform their intended function when you get to a point where you can compile it.
Efficiency is also measured in overall program responsiveness, which has been a keen focus of the past few releases of LabVIEW, as well as the program’s ability to interact with the world beyond itself. LabVIEW 2011 has been enhanced with more tight integrations with the hardware devices it empowers. It has new built-in libraries for advanced analysis, curve fitting, data visualization, and so on. It supports assemblies built in the Microsoft .NET Framework. It’s scalable across multiple targets and OSs, and it is inherently multithreaded.
And efficiency is measured in ways that are, perhaps, more difficult to measure because your mileage will vary. For example, LabVIEW 2011 has 13 new features requested by users, a new palette of controls and indicators, and more than 20 new math and signal processing functions for common engineering tasks.
You can learn more about NI LabVIEW 2011 from today’s Pick of the Week write-up. There are a ton of links at the end of the write-up, including one for a complementary evaluation unit.
Thanks, pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
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