Benefits of Programming Graphically in NI LabVIEW

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I have been working as a LabVIEW intern here at Digilent since I graduated from WSU last spring. Before I was hired, I was given a free copy of LabVIEW and asked to try to make a project to see how I felt about it. As a bioengineering major, I had pretty limited coding experience, and I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to adapt to such a radically different coding program. LabVIEW was unlike any program I had ever used, I spent the first few hours just trying to figure it out. But when I finally understood enough to start my project I was amazed at how quickly I was able to figure it out and even more amazing was that I actually enjoyed it. In this blog, post I will go through the features of LabVIEW that got me hooked in the first place.

Intuitive Graphical Programming

Like most people, I am a very visual thinker. Visual thinkers are especially adept at using visual processing to organize information. In other words, They think best in pictures. Graphical programming is typically easier for engineers and scientists to understand because they are used to visualizing and even diagrammatically modeling processes and tasks in terms of block diagrams and flowcharts. In addition, because data flow languages require you to base the structure of the program around the flow of data, you are encouraged to think in terms of the problem you need to solve, rather than translating your solution into the specific text-based syntax associated with other coding languages.

Interactive Debugging Tools

Because LabVIEW graphical G code is easy to comprehend, common programming tasks, like debugging, become more intuitive as well. For example, LabVIEW provides unique debugging tools that you can use to watch as data interactively moves through the wires of a LabVIEW program and see the data values as they pass from one function to another along the wires (known within LabVIEW as execution highlighting).

Great Support

LabVIEW has a lot of great online resources to help you with your projects. There support page gives you links to tutorials, forums, training webcasts, and manuals to help you solve any problem you might have. Some of my favorite resources can be found inside LabVIEW. From the LabVIEW help tab, you can access hundreds of examples. Below is a picture showing all of the examples available for LINX alone.

Also, while you’re working, you can press control+H to open up context help. The Context Help window displays basic information about LabVIEW objects when you move the cursor over each object. Objects with context help information include VIs, functions, constants, structures, palettes, properties, methods, events, and dialog box components.

If the context help isn’t enough to answer your question you can access the LabVIEW Help by clicking the blue Detailed help link or button in the Context Help window or by selecting Help»LabVIEW Help. The LabVIEW Help is the best source of detailed information about specific features and functions in LabVIEW. The LabVIEW Help offers conceptual topics, how-to topics with step-by-step instructions for using LabVIEW features, and complete reference information.

Thank you for reading my blog post, for more information about the benefits of programming graphically in LabVIEW check out this link. If you are interested in trying out LabVIEW for yourself, you can purchase a copy of LabVIEW 2014 home edition which includes everything you will need to run LINX 3.0. Please comment below with any questions or comments you may have.

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