LabVIEW is a graphical programming tool and development environment that was developed by the National Instruments Corporation. It is commonplace in settings that rely on automation and control hardware and software. LabVIEW (which stands for Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Engineering Workbench) is also used extensively in academic settings, especially in research labs that rely on custom instrumentation. FIRST Robotics competitors will recognize LabVIEW as the tool that is used to program their robots as the alternative to C or C++. Also, LabVIEW is the software that drives the LEGO Mindstorm NXT product.
Although LabVIEW is not open source, we highlight it here as an interesting alternative approach to creating a graphical, instrument-like user interface for your projects.
The LabVIEW development environment is fundamentally different than the Processing-derived environments like Fritzing or Arduino that we covered in earlier chapters. A basic LabVIEW program consists of a graphical user interface (GUI) known as the Front Panel and a diagram where the software is built using graphical code blocks, known as the Block Diagram (see Figure 10-1).
The LabVIEW environment might seem like a radical departure from the familiar text-based programming languages and environments that we’ve been using up to this point. Graphical programming does take a little time to get comfortable with. As we go through this chapter, keep in mind that any new ...