LabView refresh spawns a next-gen tool

Article By : Vivek Nanda

NI has not only updated LabView with a 2017 version but released an "NXG" companion that takes the traditional tool to new levels of abstraction.

National Instruments has introduced a slew of new products at the NI Week in Austin this year. As expected, there's a new version of LabView. But what wasn't expected was the announcement about LabView NXG 1.0, a version of their Labview software that takes abstraction to a much higher level and works hand-in-hand with a direct upgrade of the more traditional software: LabView 2017.

The two versions use the same architecture and compiler. They are "forward compatible," that is, you can import what you create in LabView 2017 into LabView NXG, not vice versa. NI assured that there will be future versions of the traditional LabView but the fact that you can go in only direction with your imports means that NI wants you to eventually move to a higher level of abstraction. As NI put it in its statement, "LabView NXG bridges the gap between configuration-based software and custom programming languages with an innovative new approach to measurement automation that empowers domain experts to focus on what matters most – the problem, not the tool."

That indeed was the consistent message during the press conference and a keynote delivered by no less than Jeff Kodosky, NI cofounder, who said, "LabView was [when it was developed 30 years ago] the non-programming way to automate a measurement system."

The NI announcement highlighted that LabView 2017's Cloud Toolkit for AWS connects applications to Amazon Web Services (AWS), it supports integration with Real Time Innovations Connext DDS using the RTI DDS Toolkit for LabView and then there's the Python support.

*Figure 1: The refreshed editor further extends the openness of LabView to integrate with a broader set of languages.*

There are more features for you to explore. In the NXG release, you can now drag and drop a section of code equivalent to 50 lines of text-based code, for instance. There's a new editor interface that the company claims has the functionality experienced users most request, yet it offers a user experience similar to complementary software in the market.

You will immediately notice conveniences brought over from the browser world, such as the ability to open certain tabs in new windows, and others like a tidy object properties pane that feels like someone took the same pane from Microsoft's interface and enhanced it.

*Figure 2: A screen shot from the LabView NXG 1.0.*

According to Mark Phillips, senior marketing manager for ASEAN and ANZ at National Instruments, the easier-to-use interface of the NXG will be particularly appealing to younger engineers who are entering the industry with a richer experience on higher levels of abstraction than before.

Vigorously updated version

Both the ver. 2017 and the NXG avatar come together—you don't buy them separately. One of the reasons, of course, is that LabView NXG is still a work in progress with some of the things like deploying to NI RT hardware, NI FPGA-based hardware, CompactRIO platform and much of wireless design and test hardware currently not yet supported by NXG (here's the full list).

But NI said that development is moving at a fast pace and, while NXG 1.0 will be rapidly and continuously updated, the company already has a publicly accessible beta for NXG 2.0 (see their roadmap here).

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