Using LabVIEW Quick Drop Shortcuts to Maximize Productivity

Using LabVIEW Quick Drop Shortcuts to Maximize Productivity

LabVIEW Quick Drop is one of my favorite tools for speedy LabVIEW development. For developers who aren’t familiar with Quick Drop, it is a development feature that has been standard since LabVIEW 2009.  Quick Drop is activated by pressing Ctrl + Space, then you can type the name of the VI or control you want to place instead of using your mouse to navigate through layers of the palette.

However, the feature that really puts the “quick” in Quick Drop is creating custom shortcuts and hotkeys for plugins. Quick Drop was only moderately useful to me until I discovered a list of left-hand only shortcuts for common VIs. (The list was created and published here by Darren Nattinger). Now I am able to access many of the most common VIs without ever taking my right hand off the mouse.

For instance, previously if I wanted to drop a “Bundle By Name” node, I would have had to use both hands to fully type “Bundle b” in order for Bundle by Name to appear at the top of the quick drop list.  Using my short cuts, I only have to press “Ctrl + Space, b”, then click to place the bundle by name. Pretty slick.

Pretty soon, I was gaining so much productivity (and having so much fun) using Quick Drop shortcuts, that I wanted to distribute my shortcuts to my coworkers. At first I just emailed my entire LabVIEW.ini file, but replacing the whole file caused them to lose all of their own customizations, such as customized palettes.  Darren’s community post recommends just copying and pasting the Quick Drop sections into the INI file, but this is an overly manual task, and I wanted to make the barrier to entry for using Quick Drop as low as possible.

As part of a “FedEx Day” at DMC, I decided to create a Quick Drop distribution VI to help indoctrinate my coworkers into the Quick Drop fold. The VI will automatically edit your LabVIEW.ini file to include my custom list of (mostly) left-hand only shortcuts for the block diagram and front panel. It also gives you some other convenient options that are configurable by editing the LabVIEW.ini file.

Click here to download a zip file which includes my VI to edit the INI file. The VI will open and run in LabVIEW 2013 and later. Feel free to use my VI if you’re interested in trying the shortcuts I like to use. The VI is quite simple – it was just a quick and dirty method of editing the INI file. If you like, you can modify the source code to implement your own shortcuts, and share them with your coworkers. Using this VI also helps me quickly get setup when I install a new version of LabVIEW. Of course, this VI is presented as is and comes with no warranty or guarantees.

Also in the attached zip file I have included the “QuickDrop Plugins List.xlsx” which contains a list of my favorite plugins. I found these plugins on various parts of the NI community pages, and since they were not written by me, I am unable to distribute them. However, the spreadsheet lists source links where you can download the plugin for yourself. My VI will customize the INI file to assign hotkeys to each of these plugins, but you need to download them and place them in your QuickDrop folder in order for the hotkeys to work.
Some of my favorite plugins I found are:

  • VIBox – SAPHIR has collected some useful plugins into one handy package that you can install using VI Package Manager.
  • Wire selected objects – automatically connects matching terminals on any number of VIs. This now ships with LV2014.
  • Create wire label – the text you enter in the Quick Drop box is applied as a label on the selected wire.
  • Insert an “In Place Element Structure” – inserts the structure (with appropriate tunnels) on the selected wire
  • Disable code – especially useful if you press shift, it draws a disable structure around the currently selected code, and wires through the tunnels on the enabled case.
  • And more, in the spreadsheet contained in the attached zip file.

Happy Quick Dropping! You can also learn more about QuickDrop on the NI’s community page for Quick Drop Enthusiasts. Members of the community are constantly adding new plugins, so check it out for the latest and greatest ideas.

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