1. Introducing Cyth Systems' ExpressPlus™
ExpressPlus is a collection of fully tested add-on modules for NI TestStand, NI LabVIEW, NI LabVIEW Signal Express, and NI Vision Builder.
These modules eliminate programming, and the potential for programming errors, by providing pre-programmed configuration wizards instead.
By using ExpressPlus, developers will be able to speed up time-to-completion and make fewer mistakes, resulting in better test systems, done sooner.
2. The Story of ExpressPlus
Cyth Systems developed ExpressPlus tools for our own engineers to share software, use best practices, and eliminate programming work done during each integration project we do.
Now those tools are available to other integrators and end users for creating test systems without programming.
Figure 1 - ExpressPlus steps appear in the menus within TestStand. Adding steps to your sequence is easy.
We've shown time and time again that zero-programming is actually possible! In our customers’ applications, we spend very little time programming compared to simply configuring our ExpressPlus modules, and the ratio increases every day.
4. How does ExpressPlus actually work?
TestStand provides you the ability to write code or create sequences of code steps. ExpressPlus is a group of completed, pre-programmed steps that you can select right off of the TestStand Insertion Palette and add to your sequence (Figure 1). The programming is done, so all you have to do is configure how they run for your application from the easy configuration screens.
ExpressPlus can also be added to NI LabVIEW, NI Vision Builder, and NI LabVIEW SignalExpress.
As shown in Figure 2, each ExpressPlus step has a configuration screen which guides you through the settings required to make the step work. The only requirement for the user is to configure each step by filling in the blanks, and the step is ready to run.
Figure 2 - Each ExpressPlus step has a simple configuration window
The improvements don't end there, though.
Many of the ExpressPlus screens have additional tools to help with configuring the step. Figure 2 is an example of a step to execute the relatively simple task of clicking on button in an outside software application. However, even though the names of the window and the button are required for configuration, they may be hidden, requiring additional investigation. The configuration screen in Figure 2 shows the "Help Me Choose" button, which reveals the hidden properties of buttons so that you can easily complete the step. Features like this save several minutes of extra work each time, and over the course of creating your entire test system can help you save many hours.
ExpressPlus steps are also confined to discrete tasks, so that your TestStand sequence can be created and named in a logical flow. This allows you to more quickly verify that all of the steps are in place for your sequence, and also troubleshoot more quickly if one of the steps returns an error.
Figure 3 - With ExpressPlus your test sequence is written from a logical flow
5. ExpressPlus & Hardware
Many programming tasks revolve around hardware, and most hardware is controlled by software. They tend to be tied together, and ExpressPlus bridges this gap in an easily manageable system.
Take a look at the ExpressPlus Light Tower in Figure 4 - one of many products available for which Cyth System has an ExpressPlus driver.
Figure 4 - ExpressPlus has steps to integrate operation of many hardware products
Anyone can plug in the USB light tower, and upon inserting this step, the configuration window recognizes the hardware. Configuration is as simple as selecting the colors on the light tower image to correspond with the result you want to return from that step.
6. ExpressPlus and Third-Party Software
One of the most exciting and valuable set of ExpressPlus steps that are available is Virtual Operator™, which allows you to automate the control of Windows applications or legacy software.
Figure 5 - Virtual Operator automated controls of third-party software, including step like resizing windows, or clicking buttons
In many instances, the testing environment for the end user includes outside software which would be costly, difficult, or impossible to replace. In those cases, the user may have elected to interrupt the automated test sequence to operate their software manually, before resuming the automated process.
Virtual Operator allows the operation of other software to be integrated right into the TestStand sequence, without interruption of the automated process. Virtual Operator includes many popular steps needed to launch and control software, like resizing widows, clicking buttons, moving a mouse, selecting from menus, and more – all with no programming, using easy configuration screens.
7. ExpressPlus features deliver ROI
- Develop Prototypes Faster - create sample sequences to test equipment or demo functions
- Create More Reliable System with Less “De-Bugging” – Pretested & Debugged code modules steps work every time
- Accurate budgeting & quotes – prevent runaway development costs -- you know the cost for each step right up front
- Easier Training - similar interfaces for all your developers to use
8. Available ExpressPlus Packages
- A-La-Carte - Choose any or all of our growing library of steps in 7-day evaluation mode, and license them individually so you only pay for the steps you actually use.
- Communications Pack - (9 steps) Utilize common communications protocols like TCP/IP, VISA, and others
- Virtual Operator - (12 steps) Automate Windows or other legacy software operations that usually require an operator -- like running software, selecting items from a menu, or clicking buttons. Saves the cost of paying an operator, and streamlines the process.
- Math Pack - (7 steps) Several interfaces for creating formulas, expressions, and equation editors.
- Device Drivers - too numerous to mention! Common commands for the most popular instruments without downloading and reworking instruments from the internet.