The MacView

Virtual Instrumentation from a Mac perspective

Friday, December 16, 2005

New Mac Features in LabVIEW 8.0

With all of the bullet features added to LabVIEW in the latest release, I feel that a lot of the new Mac features were glossed over. Most of them are little ones, but they sure make life easier.

One cool new feature, that is Mac-only, currently, is the Goto LabVIEW Folder button in Open dialog boxes. If the dialog supports VIs, there will be a Goto LabVIEW Folder in the lower left corner. This is especially helpful if you have several versions of LabVIEW installed (7.0, 7.1, 8.0) and several running at the same time. You'll go right to the directory of the current LabVIEW.

Another nice feature is the scroll wheel. If you use a Apple's Mighty Mouse, or any scroll wheel mouse, you can scroll the block diagram or front panel. LabVIEW supports horizontal and vertical scroll wheels. You can also emulate the horizontal by holding down the shift key when scrolling.

Another Mac-only feature is the ability to use Keyboard shortcuts in the "Save Changes?" dialog. Using Command-S will perform the Save (or Save All) operation. Command-D will perform the Don't Save (or Don't Save All or Defer Decision) operation. Escape key should work on all platforms for cancel.

In vi.lib, we added a couple more fun Mac specific VIs. One VI tells the state of keyboard modifiers (ie Shift, Control, Command, Option). One tells the current state of the mouse buttons. The third will run an arbitrary AppleScript (as a string). These VIs can be found in vi.lib/Platform.

Many people do not know about the treasure trove of Mac specific things found in vi.lib/Platform. There are several Carbon APIs that are wrapped in VIs. Some are for the more advanced developer who is familiar with Mac APIs, but there are some higher level ones, like CFURL.llb/PathToUNIXPathString.vi and CFURL.llb/UNIXPathSTringToPath.vi. Another useful high level VI is FileSystem.llb/FindFolder to LV Path.vi. You can ask the system to tell you where certain special folders are on the system.

In the future I will post helpful hints on what you can do with LabVIEW and the Mac.

7 Comments:

Blogger TiTou said...

Hi Mark,

I am also a MacLabVIEW user, I still haven't done the switch to LV 8 because I heard that some things are not quite stable at the moment.
Before doing the switch, I'd like to know a few things :
What do you about LV8 running on MacIntel, MacG5 and MacG4... There are 3 MacOS X, one for IBM 32bit, one for IBM 64bit and one for Intel ; what about LabVIEW ? Is it the same version for all ? If not, on which platform can work LabVIEW8 and how is it supported by NI ?

Thursday, January 19, 2006 2:10:00 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

It's great to see another Mac LabVIEW user. While working on development of LabVIEW 8.0, I would have to go back and use LabVIEW 7.1.1, and there were so many improvements to the interface in 8.0 that I really missed and it made 7.1.1 just feel a little awkward. Things like using the scroll wheel to get around the diagram, or scroll a list. Things like the "Go To LabVIEW Folder" button in file dialogs. Not to mention Projects and Libraries, which are great for organizing development.

In the end, you have to decide when is the best time to upgrade. I would suggest trying LabVIEW 8.0 out so you can evaluate if you want to upgrade.

LabVIEW 8.0 runs great on G3, G4 and G5 machines. I run it on a dual G5 machine. Currently LabVIEW does not take advantage of the 64 bits worth of addressing, but it does take advantage of the 64 bit computations on the G5. LabVIEW 8.0 also takes better advantage of multiple processors, including the dual G5 machines.

We are currently evaluating providing LabVIEW for Mac OS X on Intel processors. Because we are a compiler, it makes the transition a little trickier than for most application developers. Apple caught us off guard by releasing their Intel based hardware 6 months earlier than expected.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 6:35:00 AM  
Blogger PL said...

Thank you for this informations.
I am sure that nobody on the Mac platform wants to upgrade to LV 8.0 until we know if we can even use it on a MacIntel Platform under the Rosetta emulation !
And after this, when - and if - we will be able to work on an universal binary version of LabView

Thursday, February 02, 2006 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger pricer said...

Thanks for posting this information for Mac LV users. I've been a user since LV 1.0 and am in constant fear that NI will drop Mac support, but so far so good. What's the best way to let NI know that there's an interest in a Universal version of LV? Right now, it's holding up a purchase decision on a new machine for me. And how can we find out if there's Rosetta support in the mean time (short of buy and try)? The local reps (when there is one) are usually focused on Windows or hardware and are usually misinformed on Mac issues. A search of the NI site returns nothing on that subject. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 1:11:00 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

If you have feedback or concerns about the Mac version of LabVIEW, please fill out the Mac Customer Survey on National Instruments Mac site (http://www.ni.com/mac), you can find the survey in the "Additional Resources" section at the bottom of the page, titled: "Support Survey for Mac OS X"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

There have been some questions as to LabVIEW's functionality under Rosetta. Our preliminary tests show that LabVIEW does indeed function under Rosetta. There are no known issues with LabVIEW running under Rosetta. We do know that drivers that have not been ported to Intel will not run under Rosetta, and those would be where you lose functionality going to Intel at the moment.

Monday, February 20, 2006 6:36:00 AM  
Blogger txfun said...

Hi Mark,

I caught the labview train with version 3, and since then I have found this development tool amazing (on mac/win/linux!).

One thing that would be great is if NI could propose some sort of "universal" package for mac/win/linux at some dicounted price. Or maybe some sort of better integration than just being able to recompile the same code on each platform. Keeping the old logic of independent platforms is a shot in the foot of labview and all its cross-platform potential.

Another great thing would be to help in the diffusion of labview based open source (non-profit/academic) software. The current restrictions on the app builder make labview based open source project almost a non sense. No other compiler restricts how to distribute the binaries they generate, and generating binaries is always sold with the compiler! It is not even clear if such a conservative approach on the longer term will help labview and NI.

Before switching from version 7.1 (win) to version 8 (win+mac) I hoped the Student edition would help me check how version 8 behaves (especially stability of a x.0 version). It would also be a good way to get ready for a macintel release (obviously either NI drops mac or upgrades to macintel). However it seems the SE is lagging behind (being 7.1 for win and 7.0 for mac!). Do you have any clue when the SE will be upgraded?

tx

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 5:37:00 PM  

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