Monday, December 29, 2008

Keyboard Shortcut for Creating Constants/Controls/Indicators...What Say You?

Does anybody else think this would be useful? I've been on a keyboard kick ever since I created Quick Drop, which has caused me to become increasingly annoyed when I am required to slog through using a right-click menu. I'm thinking of a few solutions here:
  • Hold down a keyboard key, then double-click a diagram terminal. Depending on what key is being held down, a control, indicator, or constant would be created. Currently double-clicking a terminal with the wiring tool doesn't do anything creates a wire, just like if you single-clicked the terminal. So it would probably be safe to change the behavior of the double-click operation.
  • Add this functionality to Quick Drop. Hover over a terminal, press Ctrl-Space, then type a special key combo (which could be customizable like normal QD shortcuts) to create the control, indicator, or constant.
Any other ideas out there? Am I the only one who thinks this would totally rock?


  1. I think what you're getting at here is a more general question along the lines of "What are the most common things developers do in LabVIEW, and how can they be improved?"

    Creating controls & indicators, wiring them to connector panes, creating icons, wiring case structures, etc. These are all extremely common tasks.

    Maybe what NI should do is set up some lab tests with real LabVIEW developers (CLAD/CLD/CLA). Do it at NIWeek and provide beer. Give them a task to complete that takes like an hour (hence the beer). Then RECORD them doing it, either with a screen recorder or instrumentation in LabVIEW, or both. By doing that with as little as 10-12 subjects, you would get some real data about which simple tasks are taking developers too long. Think of it like VI Profiling, but for the developers.

    Your idea about making control/indicator creation easier is insightful, but I think there's a lot more to be learned if NI would mine its users' habits.

  2. Other idea to improve LabVIEW user experience, be able to close all probes in one click associated to a key (CTRL for example) held on.

  3. I look forward to reading your blog, I have injoyed your nuggets in the past. Is there any chance you could add an RSS feed, I know a lot of us use Thunderbird to read blogs.

  4. Todd: all blogspot blogs have RSS feeds, they're sometimes hidden. Here's this feed:

  5. Justin: I know there have been several usability studies of LabVIEW in the past. Many times they focus on new users, but occasionally they will focus on the more advanced users. It's the results of studies like these that help guide us in prioritizing usability features in the LabVIEW editor.

    Odjau: It would not be unreasonable to expect some sort of consolidation of probe handling in a future LabVIEW version.

  6. I like the idea from one poster about closing all probes at once. While on the probe subject: make array probes so they are expandable (if they somehow are, forgive my ignorance).

    I also like your idea of having a way to more quickly create controls/indicators/constants. Also, if there's a practical way of doing it, make it easy to specify if you do NOT want it connected automatically upon creation. I often create one to use elsewhere (when creating connectors for related subVIs, etc.). It could be as simple as hitting the D key (Disconnect) within a time limit after creation to make the new wire disappear. I would definitely use that. To make it more interesting, have the wire disappear with a flaming explosion. :-]

    Keep up the good ideas.


  7. I like the create (constant/indicator/control) shortcut idea. I posted a possible implementation here:

  8. hey nice blog abt labview, i was wondering if you have any notes for clad exam, if u do can u please mail it to thanks

  9. cv: I wrote a blog post on preparing for the CLAD. You can view it here: