Its that time of year – the arbitrary point to review what is going on in our lives! To that end, I thought I would review my LabVIEW life here.
What has worked well this year?
Probably my most exciting LabVIEW element this year has been working on the LabVIEW CLI toolkit (well it launched in 2016 but let’s not quibble).
It has gained a lot of traction as CI has become more popular in the past 12 months and it is great to have something you have put out there used by other people and even receiving contributions back to the code.
It is so useful that NI are building something similar into LabVIEW 2018!
There are still improvements to be made in handling cases when LabVIEW might already be open, I hope to get to these soon, or we will have to see if NI’s release solves this and so may supercede what we can do.
Getting More Organised
Over the past 12 months, I have better defined how I structure my code and documentation which, while tedious, helps me to focus on the important bits. I’m not done yet – but it is getting better all the time and creates the opportunity for one of my themes for 2018 which will be automation.
What do I need to do better?
System Testing and Analysis
You should hopefully all be aware I love unit testing. It is built into the way I work and has improved my code greatly. I need to take this a step further and make sure I increase my testing at a system/integration level to catch things unit testing can’t. I don’t yet know what that looks like – it is especially hard in LabVIEW since there is so much hardware involved but what I have learnt is I need to try to automate whatever I can to make sure it happens consistently.
2018 is the year that I am going to adopt a basic framework at a structural level. This will just save time and increase consistency which will make code easier to maintain and open up more options for collaboration. The only problem is that I’m not a fan of frameworks!
My idea is I need to work out why not. Starting from principles of what I need, I can then evaluate existing frameworks or just build a couple of templates to work from. The best example is that I find most frameworks don’t have the concept of a time-based process, e.g. DAQ, but this is in every system we work on! I’m sure I will share more as I go.
Time for Personal Development
I have found it really hard to date to make sure I spend enough time experimenting, learning and developing tools in LabVIEW (as well as other areas of expertise). This year, I am going to figure this out! Hopefully, that means more posts here as well as this time is the best source of ideas for this site.
What Am I Excited About?
2018 is going to represent something of a new era for Wiresmith Technology. I have decided that I need to focus more on application areas rather than LabVIEW to expand my reach and make marketing much easier.
The area of focus is Automated Measurement Systems. This means an emphasis on applications where we are taking dynamic measurements and analysing or logging this on the fly. While I expect there to be some areas of control in these systems (for example, stimulating the system we are measuring), this represents a move from our previous split of measurements on the one hand, and control on the other.
Why is this exciting from a LabVIEW perspective? This narrower focus also helps me to allocate development time better and prioritise certain technical assets that fit the applications well. It should improve reuse and let me dive deeper into some interesting areas.
VIMs and Channels
My projects all exist in LabVIEW 2015 still, but this year I will move to 2017. While some of these recent releases have been mocked for having very few material changes (I’m looking at you, 2014 icon change!) the few productivity improvements have really made a difference day to day.
2017 also sees some new language features though. I’m excited to try channels – I’m not sure exactly how I will use them yet but I like the idea that the top level of my code can look like an architecture diagram.
VIMs on the other hand look game changing for me. So many re-use ideas are scuppered by the idea that I must create loads of versions for different data types, but this is the solution. Simple things like a “has changed” VI or stall data flow mean that we can produce much more valuable reuse code without the penalty of having to go to variants.
With a new baby at home, I’m supposed to travel less, but the calendar is already looking at bit exciting! You will find me at:
- CLA Summit Europe 2018: We are in Madrid this year. I volunteered as co-chair, so I’m going to have to be a bit responsible this year. I’m also going to be banging on about unit testing again.
- NI Week 2018: I was planning on not going this year due to family and financial commitments, but I got an excellent price on flights yesterday! Skype should keep the family happy.
- GDevCon 2018: With the lack of a UK event for advanced LabVIEW developers, some of us decided to make our own! Go to the site to sign up for updates on tickets and content.
I hope I will get to meet you at some of these through the year, say hello!