Setup, Organize and Manage your System in LabVIEW NXG


Measurement and control hardware is a critical part of scientific and engineering systems. Applications developed in software are tightly coupled with the specific hardware setup, configuration and topology of your system. Once the hardware is set up, troubleshooting, validation and software management are significant and time consuming parts of any test, measurement or control project. SystemDesigner brings hardware configuration, software deployment, diagnostics and system documentation into the LabVIEW NXG Application Development Environment (ADE) and enables you to manage your hardware alongside software development without disruptive context switches.

SystemDesigner primarily provides a graphical representation of your hardware system and enables intuitive configuration, software organization, deployment, and documentation. By consolidating these various functions into the ADE, it becomes a starting point for your development and a hub for hardware configuration.


SystemDesigner is automatically a part of every project and can be accessed from the Project Files pane of the LabVIEW NXG ADE.

Fig 1. SystemDesigner is automatically created as part of your project

SystemDesigner is composed of two equally important views of your system – Live and Design

Live – Live view displays the physical system as discovered by LabVIEW NXG. This view always reflects the current state of the system. Live view will always be populated with at least the local PC that LabVIEW is currently running on. Live view is equivalent to the discovered hardware group in NI Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX).

Live view is useful for debugging hardware configurations or quickly applying changes to it.

Fig 2. Live view shows the current state of your physical hardware

Design – Design view displays the hardware configuration specified in the containing project. Design view is empty by default and can be populated with a discovered system (as a starting point) or by selecting hardware from the palettes.

Design view is a useful, graphical canvas for creating, configuring and documenting your system. It is also where you organize software and build it for deployment.

Fig 3. Design view shows project hardware

The interactions between the Design and Live views make developing your applications intuitive and efficient.


Understanding System Representations in Design and Live Views

Both Design and Live views expose a tabular format that mirrors the hierarchy in the graphical canvas. This view can be toggled using a control on the top-right side of the SystemDesigner.

Fig 4. Select different graphical and/or tabular representations of your system

The Table view displays different information in the Live and Design views but the properties displayed can be seen/edited in the Properties pane as well.


Properties in Live View

Hardware Detection column shows the types of devices that LabVIEW can detect and display in the Live view.

Fig 5. Selected properties of physical hardware in Table view

Plug and Play – Devices connected over USB, Ethernet, MXI etc. maintain a live status in SystemDesigner. If they shut down or lose connectivity with LabVIEW, they are automatically removed from the Live View.

Identified – Devices connected over GPIB, Serial etc. can be detected on-demand but LabVIEW cannot maintain a live connection with them as it can disrupt on-going data communications that the user might be conducting.

User Declared – Accessories or Signal Conditioning blocks cannot be queried but you can declare them, as needed to add to your system for documentation.


Properties in Design View

SystemDesigner introduces two new concepts to traditional project hardware representations – matching and linking.


These concepts are intended to enable you to keep your physical and project hardware in synch or explicitly understand the differences between them. This reduces the chances of runtime errors from mismatched configurations.

Fig 6. Selected properties of design hardware in Tabular view

Matching – When project hardware configuration - Devices, Plug-In Modules (type and slot) etc. are exactly the same as physically discovered hardware i.e. Live view matches Design view, LabVIEW specifies the hardware as matched in the Design view. It is denoted by the symbol below and the word “Matched” in Match status.

Fig 7. Match status displayed in the Properties pane

Unmatched status is denoted by the symbol below and the word “Unmatched” in Match status

Additionally, SystemDesigner allows you to configure a Link Preference for matched hardware. You can choose to link matched hardware configuration in Design view to the physical hardware. When linked, changes to configuration in Design view are immediately applied to the physical hardware. A typical example of this might be Device Name for Modular Instruments and Data Acquisition devices on PXI.

Linked devices are denoted by the symbol below in Design view.

Fig 8. Matched/Linked status displayed on the Device in the Diagram, Table and the Properties pane


If the configuration of physical hardware is changed while it is linked or matched in Design view, it will get unlinked and unmatched.

Fig 9. Adding a device in the project that does not exist on physical hardware causes Device to get Unmatched


Workflows in SystemDesigner

SystemDesigner brings together the tools to enable multiple key workflows in a single environment.

  • Validating Hardware Setup

    Most LabVIEW developers start their application development by setting up prototype hardware and validating their sensors, actuators, peripheral devices etc. Once all IO is validated and working in software, you can go about authoring the business logic of your application.

Fig 10. Quick access to discovered hardware from Home screen

The LabVIEW NXG Home Screen, gives you quick access to your hardware with a convenient shortcut. Clicking the “Use Your Hardware” option automatically creates a project and opens Live view for you. Once there, you can create measurement panels from the Properties pane to read/write data to your hardware. This makes is possible to debug your sensors/actuators/connected devices without needing to write any code.

Fig 11. Launch measurement panels from Property pane in Live view

  • Configuration and Development

    Once your Hardware is validated, you can use it as a starting point for your development by dragging discovered hardware into your Design view

Fig 12. Quickly start development by adding discovered hardware to your Design view

Newly dropped hardware will be Matched (and Linked) by default. Using Linking and Matching, you can keep track of changes to your system.

From here you can also add software to your system.

Fig 13. Organize code as Libraries or Applications from Design view

Software components like Libraries and Applications can be built from the Properties pane. Future versions of SystemDesigner will support deployment to remote targets as well.

  • Documentation

    As a graphical project, the Design view of your system is always self documenting. However, you can also add decorations to document the parts of your system that are not represented in the LabVIEW project.

    Fig 14. Add decorations to document system

    You can use these decorations and comments to create documentation that lives with your project and evolves with your system.