Sunday, August 20, 2006

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

My name is Brian Powell, and I'm a software architect on the LabVIEW R&D team in Austin, Texas. I've been with National Instruments since early 1988. So what have I been doing all this time?

LabVIEW is a graphical programming language that scientists and engineers use to design and develop test, measurement and control applications. LabVIEW is used for a seemingly infinite variety of applications by thousands of different customers. I've had the great fortune to visit many of our customers--including those developing spacecraft, performing particle physics research, developing automotive systems, manufacturing cell phones, and even a customer with computerized saws making furniture.

In my time at NI, I've essentially only had one job--developer on the LabVIEW team. On the other hand, I've had many different roles to play...

  • Macintosh programmer (that's what got me the job)
  • Email administrator (...!ihnp4!ut-sally!natinst!brian)
  • USENET administrator
  • Network administrator
  • SunOS/Solaris programmer
  • Web administator
  • Project manager
  • Group manager

Of course, my "real job" is adding features to LabVIEW and trying to make it a better product.

I work in the part of LabVIEW that's responsible for making all the I/O (NI and 3rd party) work well in LabVIEW. "Work well" means a lot of things--easier, faster, more powerful, more consistent. Since LabVIEW's all about the I/O, our group is often a vortex. If somebody inside or outside the company wants to integrate into LabVIEW, sooner or later, they'll almost certainly come through us.

I started this blog for a variety of reasons. Over the years I've learned a lot, and I feel I have advice and opinions that could be useful to the LabVIEW community. I often hear from users who ask about how best to write something in LabVIEW. I hear from 3rd party instrument vendors about how best to integrate into LabVIEW. I hear from users who want to know why we changed something, or why something behaves the way that it does.

So I hope I can provide a little insight, and that this blog turns out to be useful and maybe a little entertaining. If you have ideas you want me to talk about, please post comments or send me an email.



Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,

I am looking for a way (software) to convert PC with GPIB-PCI card to "GPIB-Ethernet converter", because the hardware solution costs $1000 and we already own the PCI card.

GPIB-Ethernet is desired also because the instrument needs to be accessed by two different clients independently.

Do you have any suggestion ?

Thank you very much.

Sang Tae Park
Postdoctor in Chemistry
California Institute of Technology

Brian Powell said...

First of all, let me point out that the NI Discussion Forums is a much more effective way to get questions like these answered.

However, one of the things you might look into is an aspect of NI-VISA that we call "Remote VISA". You can read more about it in this article. Basically, it lets you use a resource string such as "visa://remote-hostname/GPIB0::22::INSTR" to access a remote device.

I hope this helps.