National Instruments .NET Support


For .NET application development, National Instruments provides a Visual Studio add-on for test and measurement, Measurement Studio, and .NET driver APIs for use with National Instruments data acquisition, PXI instrumentation and third party instrumentation using serial, USB, Ethernet, and GPIB for communication.


Tools for .NET Developers

Measurement Studio for System Design in Visual Studio

In addition to native .NET APIs, National Instruments offers NI Measurement Studio for .NET developers. NI Measurement Studio is a suite of .NET tools designed for building professional engineering applications in Visual Studio to acquire, analyze, and display measurement data. 

To help programmers deliver an end-to-end engineering system, Measurement Studio provides libraries for data processing and storage, as well as customizable WPF, Windows Forms, and ASP.NET UI components uniquely optimized for test, measurement, and automation applications.  

NI Measurement Studio provides extensive example code, templates, and code-generating assistants integrated directly into Microsoft Visual Studio. C# and Visual Basic .NET developers can reduce the cost and development time required to build professional engineering applications by using Measurement Studio classes and controls.



Native .NET APIs

Compared to .NET wrappers around C DLLs or COM drivers, native .NET APIs provide a better programming experience through the following features:

  • Compiled and versioned assemblies
  • Fully managed data types with garbage collection and compatibility with other NI software
  • Object-oriented design
  • Asynchronous methods for long-running operations
  • Exceptions for error handling
  • IntelliSense help
  • Examples
  • Easy addition of references to a project


.NET Source Code Wrapper APIs

.NET source code wrapper APIs are C# and VB.NET source files that provide a thin .NET interface to a C API. National Instruments created source code wrapper APIs to quickly provide rudimentary .NET support before native .NET APIs could be developed. In the future, National Instruments plans to discontinue updates to wrapper APIs.


Choosing Between Native .NET APIs and .NET Source Code Wrapper APIs

National Instruments recommends you use native .NET APIs when they are available because they are easier to program against, provide better documentation, provide better examples, and provide a better installation, maintenance, versioning, and configuration management experience. Choose source code wrapper APIs only when a native .NET API is not available or when you have already built a system using source code wrappers before native .NET APIs were available.

National Instruments plans to continue to support and maintain native .NET APIs, while source code wrapper APIs might be deprecated in the future.


The following table provides a feature comparison between NI native .NET APIs and .NET source code wrapper APIs.


Feature Native .NET API .NET Source Code Wrapper API
Class hierarchy Object-oriented hierarchy Flat, single-layer, C-like
Naming Method and property names follow Measurement Studio and IVI guidelines Method and property names are mapped from C names
Documentation Detailed IntelliSense help. .NET function reference, concept topics, and .NET to C mapping topic Limited IntelliSense help, with text copied directly from the C function reference
Module Type Compiled .NET assembly (DLL)  targeting specific .NET framework C# and VB.NET source code
Installer Installer installs assemblies, help files, and examples into Program Files for development and assemblies into Global Assembly Cache for execution No installer; source code in .zip file
Examples Several examples demonstrating key concepts Limited examples
Warning and exception handling   Raises events for warnings. Throws appropriate IVI and .NET Framework exceptions. Returns warning code from functions.  Throws a single exception.
Compatibility with Measurement Studio Measurement Studio defined .NET datatypes, such as waveforms and precision timing Basic datatypes, directly translated from C API



Download NI .NET APIs

Use the following table to locate the NI .NET API resource page for the hardware driver for your NI hardware or visit to search more than 10,000 free instrument drivers from more than 350 third-party vendors.




Download .NET Source Code Wrapper APIs

Use the following table to locate the .NET wrapper API for your NI software or unmanaged NI hardware driver API.


NI Software .NET Framework Software Download .NET Wrapper Download
 NI Bluetooth Toolkit 19.1 .NET 4.0  NI Bluetooth Toolkit 19.1
 NI FM-RDS Toolkit 1.0.1 .NET 3.5  NI FM-RDS Toolkit 1.0.1
 NI GNSS 3.0 .NET 3.5  NI GNSS 3.0
 NI GSM/EDGE Toolkit 14.5 .NET 3.5  NI GSM/EDGE Toolkit 14.5
 NI LTE Toolkit 14.5 .NET 3.5  NI LTE Toolkit 14.5
 NI Modulation Toolkit 16.0 .NET 3.5  NI Modulation Toolkit 16.0
 NI Spectral Measurements Toolkit 16.0 .NET 3.5  NI SMT 16.0 
 NI WCDMA/HSPA+ Toolkit 14.5 .NET 3.5  NI WCDMA/HSPA+ Toolkit 14.5 
 NI Toolkit for Fixed WiMAX 1.0 .NET 3.5  NI Toolkit for Fixed WiMAX 1.0
 NI Toolkit for Mobile WiMAX 1.0 .NET 3.5  NI Toolkit for Mobile WiMAX 1.0 
 NI WLAN Measurement Suite 19.1 .NET 4.0  NI WLAN Measurement Suite 19.1
 NI-568x 15.0 .NET 3.5  NI-568x 15.0
 NI-5690 1.1 .NET 3.5  NI-5690 1.1   NI-5690 1.1 .NET Wrapper