Platforms in a programmable world

2 min read

Day one and the agenda for the rest of NI Week was set by Dr T's keynote.

Dr James Truchard, NI's co founder and ceo, told the audience of fans and engineers: "We believe we have the technology to redefine how industry works." However these opening words were not the throwaway crowd pleasers that you might expect of a ceo – Dr T went on to explain what these technologies were and the impact they may have as they are rolled out to the market. A number of new products based on these technologies were unveiled during the keynote and will inform this week's discussions, although as I said in this column yesterday, these discussions are tailored around the how the products can be used in practice, rather than just concentrating on the virtues of the products themselves. These latest additions to the portfolio include: myRIO, a development platform for students; the cDAQ-9188XT, a CompactDAQ Ethernet chassis; and, top of the bill this year, the CompactRIO 9068, a software designed embedded controller which I will talk about more tomorrow – it is a whole lot more interesting than the name suggests. For the moment, however, I'm giving over the remainder of this column to 'the platform'. The platform approach, according to Eric Starkloff, NI's senior vp for marketing, is the future for measurement, control, test and embedded. This is because we are moving towards a programmable world, he claimed, and platforms are necessary if we are to innovate with the new technology. The platform, from NI's perspective, is LabVIEW. An updated version, downloadable immediately, was announced at the keynote and has a number of new tools to facilitate the management, documentation and debugging of complex systems. It also allows streamlined deployment of large systems through improved web services and NI LabVIEW Application Builder. Not a radical overhaul, as far as I can see, but features that will make it more appealing to some – the web experience offering being one. One thing that struck me was that the Labview Tool Network (essentially its own app store) recently passed 2million downloads. As Starkloff commented: "LabVIEW goes beyond the capabilities of its own developments and includes the development of the community." And if the community is downloading 2m tools (created by that community) then it is clearly developing a strong platform. A further development to look out for down the line was pointed out to me by Charles Schroeder, director of test systems. Design is increasingly about embedded systems combining hardware and software – and conventional eda tools cannot test these systems during the design phase. But LabVIEW can – and it may be that eda companies start to partner with NI in order to port to LabVIEW and allow the designs they are creating to be simulated properly. Another consequence of the programmable world, it would appear.