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Automation Technologies 5/2014

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Automation Technologies 5/2014

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previous page with extensive libraries of useful function-ality. LabView, system design software for example, is a programming tool focused on meas-urement and control applications that interact with I/O hardware. The graphical programming syntax of LabView is well suited to handling parallelism and real-world timing inherent in this type of application. Similarly the integrated analysis libraries and hardware device drivers are all designed to save an engineer time compared to those that have to implement or piece together a solution from general purpose tools and disaggregated sources. These commercially backed, domain specific languages allow you to realize the benefits of cus-tom software without paying the full price of ground-up development with a general purpose programming language. The limited focus of these tools allow them to provide more specific value to their users by focusing on the right set of libraries and making design decisions with their specific users in mind. While these tools can potentially cost more money initially compared to open-source and free-to-use OS vendor provided tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio and Apple Xcode, the silver lining is that there is a company on the other side of the product that depends on your continued usage of their product in order for them to make money. This means that they have a vested interest in your success.. Commercial tool providers are also more moti-vated to provide the latest technologies in such a way that preserves the existing investment you already have with their tool. This normally results in less churn and more isolation from potentially disruptive changes such as forced OS upgrades (i.e. Windows XP’s recent retirement) and underlying hardware changes (i.e. 64-bit x64 phasing out 32-bit x84, and the emergence of ARM processors). Advantages of user-defined software Sometimes even a domain-specific programming language requires too much development in-vestment and a more off-the-shelf approach is available. NI, for instance, offers application soft-ware for test sequencing (NI TestStand), real-time testing (NI VeriStand), and offline data analy-sis (NI DIAdem). Each of these tasks provides enough common functionality so that it is com-mercially viable for a vendor to offer a product that meets the more common needs of the mar-ket. What separates these tools from fixed function software is that they can all be extended and have custom functionality plugged into them. This plug-in approach is where you can add the highly valuable custom functionality specific to your needs (i.e. the testing procedure for your latest device), while still enabling you to reuse a well implemented function like a test sequencer. Profiting from the best It’s important to remember that no one software tool is the right answer for every possible task. It is up to you as the engineer or engineering manager to select the most productive software ap-proach, whether that be purchasing ready-made software, developing a solution from the ground up in a specific language, or mixing and matching ready-made components with high-level lan-guages and extensible application software. Being aware of your options and open to change will allow you to take advantage of the best of what is available and hopefully gain the upper hand in the ever more competitive marketplace. Matlab is a registered trademark of The Mathworks, Inc. 03 The table gives an overview over the software options with its advantages and disadvantages AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 5/2014

sensors and Measurement Make informed decisions fast with LabView 2014 LabView 2014 system design software, the heart of the NI platform, adds with its upgrade new capabilities to acquire, analyze and visualize data from anywhere, at any time. LabView 2014 standardizes the way users interact with hardware through reuse of the same code and engineering processes across systems, which scales applications for the future. This saves time and money as technology advances, requirements evolve and time-to-market pressure increases. “Using LabView and CompactRIO hardware from NI enabled one of the largest municipal distribution utilities in North America to implement decentralized and distributed solutions at lower deployment costs with reduced risk and time to market. This solution allows the customer to acquire, analyze and visualize data to prioritize projects that improve grid stability and optimize growth management,” said Bob Leigh, president and CEO of LocalGrid Technologies. LabView 2014 also simplifies purchasing through the LabView suites, which offer relevant, essential LabView add-ons and complementary software specific to automated test, embedded control and monitoring, and hardware-in-theloop and real-time test. In addition, the software provides access to cutting-edge acquisition hardware such as the rugged and flexible 4-slot CompactDAQ system and CompactRIO system, software-designed instruments such as the PXI Express 8-channel high-resolution oscilloscope and the software-based VirtualBench all-in-one instrument. LabView 2014 includes new capabilities to enhance decision making such as: n DataFinder Federation technology – users can intuitively search data on a local drive, network or around the world n New built-in algorithms – a richer deployment of analysis including .m files to NI Linux Real-Time and vision functions to FPGAs n Data Dashboard for LabView – users can easily and securely create mobile interfaces to visualize acquired data and make informed decisions on-the-go without the expertise of a mobile developer The latest version of LabView includes 13 user-driven features to optimize coding productivity, expanded online training for LabView RIO applications included with active software service and new tools from the LabView Tools Network, such as a the LabSocket System by Bergmans Mechatronics LLC. This system provides remote access to LabView applications from desktop or mobile web browsers, without the need for browser plug-ins or a client-side run-time engine. National Instruments ensures customer success with an ecosystem of services, support and more than 700 Alliance Partners worldwide. AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 5/2014


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