Sunday, March 04, 2007

LabVIEW UI Trick: Panel Wallpaper

Do you ever get tired of the gray panel background color?
Before LabVIEW 8.20, you could put background images in VIs, but they got in the way while editing and you had to make sure they were just the right size.

In LabVIEW 8.20, you can set wallpaper for your panel. Right-click on the scrollbar and select "Properties." (I know, this is an odd place for it, but we couldn't make it a right-click on the panel, could we?)

From the Pane Properties dialog, you can choose from several shipping Background images, or browse to your own. You can set the image to Stretch (grow to fill the panel), Center (stay at a fixed size in the center of the panel), or Tile (repeat the image to fill the panel).

Here's our panel again, but with a brushed metal background:

And, in case you're wondering, the "Pane Properties" is not a misprint. For normal VIs, there is one pane that fills the panel, but by using the Splitter Bars, you can have multiple panes in a panel.

That's all for now. Have fun! But please don't go too crazy. Eye candy is fun where appropriate, but you don't want to make something ugly and difficult to use:



Anonymous Matt Holt said...

Traitor! Sacrilege! Those are MAC screenshots... j/k.

Nice tip, but VERY scary. Instead of inheriting pink backgrounds, I will one day likely inherit "brushed metal" backgrounds... Lets hope everyone notices what was wrong with the last example!

2:00 PM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger Ton said...

If I look into the Symfac1 application (NI\shared\graphics), their are a lot more backgrounds under textures, bricks, chain link fences amongst other

1:19 AM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Christina said...


At least now when you inherit a VI with wood-grained background, you'll immediately know how to get rid of it. :-)

I actually blogged this because someone came to me with a VI where he couldn't figure out how to get rid of a stretched background image. Without knowing about the pane background, he thought it was a mysterious, unselectable image.

- Christina

1:33 PM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Christina said...

ton -

I had forgotten about the Image Navigator. Thanks for pointing it out! I hope no one tries to use the "Pizza, no mushrooms" texture as a VI background, though. :-)

- Christina

1:36 PM, March 06, 2007  
Blogger Alan said...

Your "ugly" example looks suspiciously like my post to LAVA in Jan 2004 that lead to some requests for this feature.

9:26 AM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Christina said...


I hadn't seen that LAVA thread, so any resemblance is purely coincidental. The wood-grain in your VI is a much better background than the one I used, since it is finer-grained. (You'll notice I bolded the text on my example and it's still nearly illegible).

I hope I didn't offend you! I didn't mean to imply that I'm always opposed to textured backgrounds. I'm just opposed to inappropriate textured backgrounds, i.e. ones that are used for no good reason and reduce the overall usability of the interface.

4:56 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Alan said...

I wasn't offended. The VI that I made a few years ago was just an attempt to push the GUI to look un-LabVIEW. Now I can be really dangerous with this wallpaper feature. Thanks for the execellent blog.

9:19 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, the wallpaper feature is definitely... dangerous. :-)

Thanks for reading!

10:02 PM, March 21, 2007  
Blogger Stephen said...

Ah, another tool for the obfusicated LV project... put wallpaper on the FP that looks like the block diagram, and then just make the block diagram a gray rectangle like the front panel. :-)

7:56 PM, March 22, 2007  

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