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What is LabVIEW?

Graphical Programming Platform LabVIEW


LabVIEW (short for Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench) is a system-design platform and development environment for a visual programming language from National Instruments.

LV 2013 screenshot

The graphical language is named "G" (not to be confused with G-code).

VI stands for Virtual Instrument, the basic building block of programs written in LabVIEW. It is similar to a function or subroutine in other programming languages. It includes the Front Panel (containing Controls and Indicators), the Block Diagram (containing Control Terminals, Wires, and Structures and various other GObject nodes), the VI's Icon and its Connector Panel (as well as compiled executable code which is hidden behind the scenes).

The term Virtual Instrument is a play off of the fact that LabVIEW applications are designed for writing software that simulates the functionality of instruments -- rather than being a physical instrument on a laboratory bench, they are virtual and exist in software.

LabVIEW VIs are saved as *.vi files in a proprietary binary format defined by National Instruments, the makers of LabVIEW.

Originally released for the Apple Macintosh in 1986, LabVIEW is commonly used for data acquisition, instrument control, and industrial automation on a variety of platforms including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X various versions of UNIX, Linux and Real-Time Operating System (RTOS).

The glue that ties everything together, is NI LabVIEW software that enables the user to define (or program) NI hardware to do acquire, analyze, and present the data they are measuring.

LV multiple targets

Addtionally to great hardware support LabVIEW has:

  • Analysis and Technical Code Libruaries
  • UI Components and Reporting Tools
  • Technology Abstraction
  • Models of Computation

Every year in August appears the new version of LabVIEW . LabVIEW is constantly progressing.