Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quick Drop

Quick Drop is a new feature of LabVIEW 8.6. I don't think I can describe it as well as Jim Kring did, so I refer you to his blog post "Quick Drop is Awesome."

You can also see a video of Quick Drop in action on

Darren Nattinger (of Darren's Weekly Nugget fame) created Quick Drop and is amazingly fast when using it. He has configured keyboard shortcuts that he can type entirely with his left hand. His right hand never leaves the mouse!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Linked Tunnels

Linked tunnels are a new feature of LabVIEW 8.6

Linked tunnels save you from the tedious process of wiring through frames of a case structure when you add new frames or when you add new tunnels to a structure that already has multiple frames. It's easy. Just right-click on an output tunnel and choose an item from the Linked Input Tunnel shortcut menu. You can create the link and wire all the unwired cases, or just create the link. After that, as you create new frames in your case structure, LabVIEW will automatically wire the linked tunnels. This feature also works on event structures.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

NIWeek 2008

NIWeek 2008 is finished and I want to thank everyone who attended. It was a fun and interesting conference. I especially want to thank those of you who told me that you read my blog! It was great to meet you in person! And, yes, I will try to post more often. :-)

Slightly off-topic... does anyone know of any research in the area of seating fragmentation for large groups of people? I have a hypothesis that we'd get more useful seats in the same space if we left more rows open, even though we'd have fewer chairs. (I can't help pondering this; there's something about the engineering mind that detests inefficiency, even in keynote seating arrangements).

Speaking of the engineering mind, have you seen the "An Engineering Mind" videos on YouTube (that they showed before the NIWeek keynotes). Yeah, I know that guy. :-)

Safe journey home to all our visiting friends!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Breakpoint Manager

The new Breakpoint Manager in LabVIEW 8.6 allows you to easily see all the breakpoints you have set on all VIs in memory. To see it, select the View menu and choose Breakpoint Manager or right-click on a wire, structure or node and select Breakpoint Manager from the Breakpoint shortcut menu. From the manager window you can quickly go to the diagram where the breakpoint is set by double-clicking on the breakpoint in the listbox.

The buttons along the right allow you to enable, disable and remove breakpoints, as well as select all breakpoints.

The ability to disable breakpoints is another new feature. This can be very useful when you need to visit breakpoints in a particular order, which can be done by enabling the second breakpoint when you hit the first. Disabled breakpoints are saved with VIs, which means you can also use them like bookmarks.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Automatic Block Diagram Clean Up, One of the New Features of LabVIEW 8.6

"Clean up diagram" has changed the way I use LabVIEW.

After years of learning to keep my diagram tidy as I develop it, I now find that I can concentrate solely on functionality and click a button (or use the ctrl-U keyboard shortcut) whenever things get messy. LabVIEW rearranges everything: nodes, structures, wires, etc. I also use it right before I save my VI. It's fast. It's easy. It's really slick.

Of course, it's not a complete panacea. So far, I use it only on "leaf-level" subVIs because I often have design patterns in my higher level VIs that I want in a particular layout. For example, I like having my producer loop above my consumer loop and automatic cleanup sometimes flips them around.

My one complaint with the first release of this feature is that diagram items that don't participate in data flow get "pushed out" to the edge. That means free labels get pushed to the side instead of staying near the code they comment. This is another reason why I tend to use block diagram cleanup on smaller subVIs, because they're likely to have only a single comment for the whole diagram.

Here are the questions I anticipate many will ask about this feature:

Q: Is it fast?
A: Yes, I've been impressed with how quickly it cleans up diagrams.

Q: Can I undo?
A: Yes. If you don't like the results, you can undo the block diagram cleanup with one Ctrl-Z.

Q: Can I tweak the parameters?
A: Yes. Look in Tools>>Options under Block Diagram: Cleanup.

Q: Can I clean up a portion of my diagram automatically?
A: No. It operates on the entire diagram, not a selection.

I don't think any description of this feature can really do it justice. I encourage you to get a copy of LabVIEW 8.6 and try it out for yourself!


Sunday, August 03, 2008

LabVIEW 8.6

National Instruments and the LabVIEW R&D team are proud to announce the release of LabVIEW 8.6. You can find further details on and in the new features webcast by LabVIEW Product Manager Mike Neal.