What's New in LabVIEW 2009
Over the course of NI Week in Austin, National Instruments gradually introduced and demonstrated the new features that are being implemented in the LabVIEW 2009 release. Many were logical steps forward in hardware and software development, some were long awaited and often requested functionalities or improvements, and a few were completely unexpected new features that were greeted with ooohs and aaahs and applause by the convention audience. Here's a quick run-down of some of the features I found interesting (discussion of additional features to come in future posts):
VI Snippets Tool
Developers will be able to more easily share useful pieces of code using code snippets. These are essentially PNG image screenshots of block diagram code that can easily be displayed in any browser, but these files also have the actual LabVIEW code embedded within them. So when you find code you want to use, you can simply drag and drop the image into your block diagram to insert the code. This will save the hassle of opening up shared VI's to see if they actually do what you need, and will save the time of having to rewrite the code from a standard block diagram screenshot.
Generic Configuration Editor (xCE)
This new tool is basically an open source LabVIEW project to serve as a framework for developing custom software configuration applications. It utilizes LabVIEW Object Oriented Programming and is built off the structure of the Localization Configuration Editor (an application for configuring various languages to display on a VI). This tool would be very well suited for use in developing test configurations and sequences for automated test routines, without all the overhead work needed to gather this information from the user and organize these kinds of complex libraries of settings.
New Icon Editor
This one was a big crowd pleaser at the convention (accompanied by a lot of "It's about time" murmurs throughout the audience). NI has revamped the icon editor to include multiple layers, icon templates, graphics libraries, and improved editing controls. Effective VI icons do a lot to improve code readability, so it will be nice if making good quality icons is a quick and easy task.
Native Recursion in VI
Calculating those Fibonacci numbers just got a lot easier! Native recursion now allows VI's to call themselves, which allows for much cleaner implementations of recursive algorithms than was previously possible (the VI must, of course, also be set as re-entrant for this to work).
Partial Block Diagram Cleanup
Until now, when you wanted to make new code you'd written a little neater and more readable without investing the extra time into manually cleaning it up, your only option was to close your eyes, cross your fingers, knock on wood, rub your lucky horseshoe, and then click the "Block Diagram Cleanup" button. Inevitably (if you were working on anything even moderately complex), you would open your eyes to see your ENTIRE block diagram mangled by into an arcane mess, when you just needed to fix a small portion of your code. LabVIEW 2009 adds the ability to select just a portion of a block diagram for the cleanup algorithm to target, which should vastly improve the usability of this feature, allow for more readable code, and save significant time.
These items are just a few of the numerous new features and functionalities to be included in LabVIEW 2009. Stay tuned for more information and discussion of many additional new features in the near future.
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