Network (IDNet), the largest online database of free instrument drivers.
Driver downloads for LabVIEW, NI Lab Windows/CVI, and Microsoft
Visual Studio .NET are available, covering buses including GPIB, USB,
PXI, PCI, Ethernet, LXI, and RS232. New drivers are being developed
constantly as test hardware evolves. NI has also addressed this changing
landscape with a building tool, the LabVIEW Instrument Driver Development Studio, which uses SCPI command templates for common instrument types to help accelerate driver development.
Accommodating changes in operating systems
Highlighting the need for smart software choices in the test environment is
the increasing pace of operating system changes. Once limited to Windows
and some Unix-based architecture, test platforms must now accommodate
a variety of other operating systems, such as Macintosh and Linux, that are
updated each year. This leaves the user with the daunting task of upgrading while maintaining the integrity of the existing test system.
“VISA manages the low-level communication to the operating system
(OS) and the hardware device, so you can freely move to new OSs without
changing your application,” says Kruger. This is particularly important as
portable computing devices are increasingly leveraged to help develop or
To address this rapidly growing segment NI has built a mobile extension to its DataDashboard tool, which allows users to create a custom
interface to LabView applications. The interface includes swipeable
screens and values of network published shared variables.
“The idea is to let people control and communicate with their devices,”
and add further value to the LabView environment, says Kruger. “As auto-
mated test solutions take over we have seen several of our accounts asking
to connect to multiple systems over wireless networks.”
NI has designed its systems to extract the bus—Wi-Fi, Ethernet,
GPIB—and port that to whatever applications happen to be calling on the
bus. These capabilities streamline what NI anticipates to be a strong mar-
ket in mobile test and measurement in the next few years, both on tablets
a clear edge: think vacuum, think Edwards
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