LabVIEW software gets greater control of data

LabVIEW software gets greater control of dataVersion 5.1 of National Instruments’ LabVIEW measurement software tool introduces enhancements to its Internet connectivity, user interface and application execution. Roy Rubenstein
National Instruments has unveiled the latest version of its LabVIEW measurement and automation software tool.
LabVIEW enables engineers to acquire data, analyse it and present the results all in the one environment.  
  Web update… Although the previous version of LabVIEW comes with an Internet toolkit, version 5.1 simplifies its use. It allows a ‘virtual instrument’, running on a remote computer, to be viewed via the Internet without any user programming.
According to Norma Dorst, product marketing manager, Version 5.1 of LabVIEW introduces enhancements to its Internet connectivity, user interface and application execution when compared with previous versions.
The Internet, as in numerous other areas, is having a profound impact of the way data is acquired and analysed. Until recently the typical data acquisition set up involved LabVIEW running next to the system being monitored. Now with the Internet, data acquisition can be done remotely, with the data storage and analysis being performed on multiple machines in a variety of locations.
Although the previous version of LabVIEW comes with an Internet toolkit, version 5.1 simplifies its use. It allows a ‘virtual instrument’, running on a remote computer, to be viewed via the Internet without any user programming, said Dorst. It also simplifies the ‘broadcasting’ of remote data – for analysis or storage purposes – using a feature called DataSocket.
“If you want the data you can open a Web address, read it and convert it,” said Dorst. “You don’t have to worry about the data formats or the protocols.”
As an example, Dorst cites work at an unnamed US science lab. Here data is viewed through a server PCwhich talks to the firewall-protected PC undertaking the data measurements. The firewall is needed to stop remote users gaining access to the underlying data acquisition hardware. Using the Internet, scientists can view and even change the data acquisition parameters such as sampling rate using LabVIEW.
Improvements to LabVIEW V5.1’s user interface include the ability to visualise and model data in 3D, and to develop graphics animations. Other graphical additions are Smith charts and polar plots, and scalable front panels enabling users to move applications between different sized windows without having to manually re-sized the controls.
National Instruments has improved program execution by introducing a modular application architecture. Instead of a single executable file incorporating all the require functionalities, a smaller executable file can be used.
Requiring less system memory, the slimmed down executable file accesses the required LabVIEWfunctionality through a dynamic linked library instead.
Dorst also points to the tool’s use of Microsoft’s ActiveX technology which allows M-Script algorithms already developed for The Mathwork’s MATLAB package to be run under LabVIEW.
So what areas are National Instruments addressing for its next version release? “We’re always looking to improve the user interface and ensuring connectivity to industry standards.”
Dorst cites ActiveX and the Internet as industry standards that LabVIEW has recently taken on-board.
Microsoft’s Windows 2000 is the next development of note: “We need to make use of it for test and measurement,” said Dorst.


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