What exactly is LabVIEW?
LabVIEW aka Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench offers a graphical programming approach for creating platforms to monitor systems. It is basically software designed for applications requiring the test, measurement, and control with quick access to hardware and data insights.
LabVIEW is not just a programming language, but it is an interactive development and execution program that was designed and is traditionally used by scientists, engineers, and other domain experts, for whom the program is a part of their job. It works on computers that run on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and can create programs that run on these platforms as well as on Microsoft Pocket PC, Microsoft Windows CE, Palm OS, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), and microprocessors
About LabVIEW Software
This graphical programming software is being widely used worldwide in research labs, academia, and engineering sectors. Multiple testing and measuring features are offered by this application. You can make G codes using graphical icons that will present you with a standard programming experience.
The application’s G code functions according to the dataflow rules. It functions only when valid data is there. This prioritizes data over sequencing texts. Thus, the focus on data makes you better organize the programming works.
Features of LabVIEW
The LabVIEW software is made up of various components. Following are the most important one’s:
- LabVIEW Environment: LabVIEW Environment is where LabVIEW exists and this ecosystem allows users to develop programs with LabVIEW. This feature consists of a good collection of tools that aid the development of LabVIEW application such as:
- Templates and sample projects: This tool presents a few common templates which can be used to start a project as well as be used for some fully formed projects to see how they work and/or can be customized for specific applications.
- Example Finder: This contains hundreds of code snippets that demonstrate the methodology behind a wide range of tasks. These can be used or customized as needed.
- Debugging Tools: Debugging, like all program developers know, is an essential part of any development. The LabVIEW environment provides an extensive number of tools to aid the rapid debugging of programs. The debugging features include probes, breakpoints, single steps, highlighting execution, etc.
- Hardware Manager: This is a tool that works in conjunction with LabVIEW. It enables driver management – updating and monitoring. It also allows you to check the validity of the hardware connection before running the program.
- Source Control: The LabVIEW environment includes a number of tools for configuration management. This allows larger teams to collaborate on applications while still ensuring proper configuration management is carried out.
- LabVIEW Tools Network: This component of the LabVIEW environment allows you to download specialized toolkits for specific applications. Some are supplied by National Instruments, while others may be supplied by NI partners.
LabVIEW Virtual Instruments
The Virtual Instruments (VIs) is an integral part of the LabVIEW Environment for the VI’s contain the code for the particular application. It’s with these VI’s that the users can create algorithms that are to applied inside or outside of the program. The VI has two parts:
- Front Panel: The front panel is the interactive user interface of a VI, and it gets its name from its resemblance to the front panel of a physical instrument. The front panel can be customized to include knobs, pushbuttons, graphs, and other elements wherever we want.
- Block Diagram: The block diagram is VI’s source code, where its functionality is constructed in G. The functionality is defined by the block diagram, which also serves as a visual representation of it. In this sense, the block diagram is analogous to a flow diagram within a program.
LabVIEW Programming offers a straightforward graphical interface for creating programs for its usage in more complex environments. To achieve maximum effectiveness and speed, LabVIEW programming, like any other language, requires a learning process and practice. Nonetheless, with knowledge of two main concepts: G programming (block diagram elements) and dataflow, it is possible to achieve quick results. There are inputs, actions, and outputs, just like in any other programming language. These are referred to as Controls, Functions, and Indicators in LabVIEW programming.
- Controls: The control palette for LabVIEW programming is divided into several categories, which can be exposed as needed to show some or all of these categories depending on the application’s needs. Controls can be of various data types, such as single, double, string, and so on, which are standard programming data types.
- Functions: LabVIEW functions are selected from the Functions palette on the block diagram, given inputs, and then executed. LabVIEW has a plethora of functions ranging from simple mathematics to video processing, spectral analysis, and so on.
- Indicators: Indicators in LabVIEW are similar to controls in that they have a Front Panel counterpart that displays the output of the block diagram to the user. All of the LabVIEW programming elements, such as controls, indicators, and functions, are linked together in the block diagram. This is accomplished through the use of “wires.” Data can be thought to flow along these wires.
The flow of knowledge throughout the execution of any program is named as dataflow. it’s additionally called a Streaming method. In LabView programming, dataflow determines the order of execution, i.e. from right to left or high to bottom. The concept of dataflow within LabVIEW may take some time to master for those who are more accustomed to text-based programs but once mastered, it is simple to use as a programming language.
Advantages of using LabVIEW
- It provides a graphical user interface (GUI) so that applications look nice and are easy to interact with.
- It has drag-and-drop capabilities, which aid in the creation of quick simulation block diagrams (i.e. VI). When compared to text-based programming languages, it reduces programming time.
- It is compatible with modular design and multiple platforms.
- It is a language that is adaptable and scalable.
- It aids in signal analysis by providing built-in math and signal processing functions.
- If a function is not available as a built-in function, the user can create their own VI.
- It enables data transfer via GPIB, USB, Ethernet, serial port, and other interfaces.
- It supports object-oriented design and can be used to create algorithms. One can generate a “C DLL” from their C code and use it as a library.
- Widely used for data acquisition, analysis, data generation
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