I’m sitting in Ohio’s 90-degree heat instead of the 100-degrees of Austin, Texas this week. After attending 18 straight NI Week technology events, I’ve taken a break. I have two things on this post while I think through my next post on Internet of Things and communication technologies.

National Instruments has changed tremendously over the past five years or so. All the marketing and media relations people I’ve known are gone. For the first time last year, I walked into the press room and no one knew me. There were no interviews. No suggestions on finding great information. Even the keynotes no longer brought awe and spontaneous applause at the technology advances. The applause was more perfunctory.

NI is no longer family with a tremendous enthusiasm for technology advancements. It’s a big company.

I’m saving the $1,200 or so it would have cost me to go to Austin in August. I’ll be there in October for Dell World. I’ll visit the other Austin technology companies then. (And run along Town Lake–er, Lady Bird Lake, eat good barbecue, take in some music.)

OPC and the REST of it

I’ve been seeing news and receiving press releases from companies promoting MQTT and REST–perhaps instead of OPC UA. (More in my next post.)

So, I have been researching industrial communications–protocols, platforms, architectures, standards. OPC has been a workhorse for moving structured data from control to HMI and beyond. It is developing a publish/subscribe technology to complement its client/server technology to enhance cloud communication.

I’m seeing interest from suppliers from alternatives, or, if not alternatives, other technologies that could complement or supplant much of the work of OPC UA. MQTT, AMQP, REST, DDS. Companies are exploring them.

I wonder why? I’m interviewing many people on the subject. There is much to read.

What do you think? Send email or comment. Is there something about OPC UA that makes you consider other technologies? Why would you pick MQPP? REST is an API specification most used to get large amounts of information into Web pages. Could you use that in place of an MES? Or, to assist your MES?

There are lots of questions. I’m looking for answers. Thoughts?

NI Announces LabView2016

I am receiving news from NI Week. Here is the first announcement.

NI announced LabVIEW 2016 system design software, empowering engineers to simplify development and effectively integrate software from the ecosystem into their systems. The latest version of LabVIEW introduces new channel wires to simplify complex communication between parallel sections of code. Available on both desktop and real-time versions of LabVIEW, the channel wire method helps improve code readability and reduces development time.

“The new channel wires in LabVIEW 2016 enable us to develop applications even faster by making architectures that are more transferable across domains,” said Christopher Relf, chief engineer at VI Engineering. “With channel wires, we can set up sophisticated software architectural patterns that natively have multiple sources, without having to create and maintain considerable amounts of custom software in the background.”

Much of the success that LabVIEW users have had relies on the openness of both the product itself and the ecosystem that supports it. LabVIEW 2016 continues this trend with enhanced interoperability with Python and third-party devices. This openness, combined with several new enhancements, helps users continue to improve productivity by streamlining code development and deployment. With the latest version of LabVIEW, users can:

  • Simplify development with new channel wires that reduce complex asynchronous communication to a single wire
  • Take advantage of more RAM and memory with new 64-bit add-on support for the LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module, LabVIEW MathScript Real-Time Module, LabVIEW Unit Test Framework Toolkit, LabVIEW Desktop Execution Trace Toolkit and LabVIEW VI Analyzer Toolkit
  • Streamline the automation of benchtop measurements with the Instrument Driver Network, which supports 500 new devices in addition to the existing 10,000 supported instruments
  • Integrate Python IP using the new Python Integration Toolkit for LabVIEW, which is a simple API from Enthought, Inc. (available in the LabVIEW Tools Network) that can integrate Python scripts into LabVIEW applications


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