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Rolf Kalbermatter

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Everything posted by Rolf Kalbermatter

  1. That's about the same as when you have a DLL and want to get the C source back! Rewriting it from scratch! As explained before, those VIs inside an executable have their diagram and usually front panel completely stripped out. They are not hidden or anything, they are simply completely gone, nada, futschi, niente! LabVIEW doesn't need them to execute the VI in an executable, so why keep it and ballon the executable size unneccessarily? Also there are many people who do not want their source code (and precious IP) handed out to their users and they would be very upset if LabVIEW executables contained the full source code, no matter how much hidden. So the safest thing to do is to remove it, what is not there can not be stolen! The only thing inside such a VI is the actual compiled code (machine code instructions for the CPU it is meant to run on) and some linker information so LabVIEW can piece the VIs together when loading the whole hierarchy and connect the correct terminals with the data values that are represented through the wires that go into the node, only the wires in the calling diagram are gone too just as the rest of the diagram. Still for the compiled code that is enough. So you could with lots of trickery and reverse engineering retrieve the machine code streams from the VIs and feed them piece for piece to a disassembler and then you end up with Assembly Code text, the text form of the lowest level machine instructions that the CPU processes. This is source code too, but not something that most people will easily understand. It is one level deeper than C programming and several levels deeper than LabVIEW diagram code! To regenerate C from assembly code while not easy and not automatic is possible, going from assembly to LabVIEW is pretty much futile except for the approach of describing the algorithme involved from the assembly code and then recreate it in LabVIEW. The problem is that going from assembly code to something like "Read channel 0 from DAQ board 1, turn it in a hex string and write the result to GPIB instrument at primary address 4 on GPIB bus 0" would likely cover 10 pages of assembly code and would be hard to deduce from those 10 pages without very careful study. It would be in absolutely all cases quicker and more effective to simply put up a high level description of what the application does and reimplement it from scratch based on that. This is one of the reason the other approach has never been really tried and the effort is to big to allow a hobbyist to try it for fun.
  2. Unless you use STL which makes a lot of use of them. The big question is if STL buys you much or just causes you even more trouble. It's better than using the C++ template feature yourself though. That is pure evil.
  3. Of course it is. They changed the PK0x030x04 identifier that is in the first four bytes of a ZIP stream, since when they did it with the original identifier, there was a loud scream through the community that it was very easy to steal the IP contained in a LabVIEW execuable. And yes it was easy as most ZIP unarchivers have a habit of scanning a file for this PK header, no matter where it is in a file and if they do and the local directory structure following it makes sense they will simply open the embedded ZIP archive. This is because many generators for self extracting archives simply tacked an executable stub in front of a ZIP archive to make it work as an executable. The screaming about stealing IP was IMHO totally out of proportions, the VIs in an executable have no diagram, no icon and usually not even a front panel (unless they are set to show their frontpanel at some point). But NI listened and simply changed the local directory header for the embedded ZIP stream and all was well 😆. The ZIP functions available in LabVIEW are a byproduct of integrating the minizip and zlib sources into LabVIEW for the purpose of compressing binary data structures inside of VIs to make the VIs smaller and of using a ZIP archive in executables rather than the old <=8.0 LLB format used. The need to change away from the embedded LLB was mainly because with the introduction of classes and lvlibs, the VI names alone where not always unique and therefore couldn't be stored in the single level LLB anymore. They needed a hierarchical archive format and rather than extending the LLB format to support subdirectories, it was much easier to use the ZIP archive format and the ZLIB provided sources came with a liberal enough license to do that.
  4. At this point, if you only use NI hardware you are fairly safe. It's either supported with 64 bit drivers or discontinued anyways. If you use other 3rd party drivers the situation is a lot more checkered. Some have already abandoned 32 bit software and only deliver 64 bit anymore. Others have not made the step and many might never as their hardware and software offering is in a sort of maintenance state. "Look it works!" "Hands off and don't touch it anymore! It was hard enough to get it not to crash constantly!" 😆
  5. I've been looking at the GCentral site and visited the Package Index page. While I find it a good initiative I see here the same problem that makes me loath browsing the NI site for products. I'm interested in the list of packages mostly yet half of the screen is used up by the GCentral logo and lots and lots of whitespace. I may be a dynosaur in terms of modern computer technology and not understand the finesse of modern web user interface design, but a site like that simply does not make me want to use it! Maybe this design will be beneficial to me in 10 years from now when my eyesight has detoriated so much that I won't see small print anymore but wait, the text in the actual list is still pretty small, so that won't help at all. It's also not because of the much acclaimed fluent design. The size of the actual screen stays statically the same no matter how I resize the browser window. This kind of web interfaces makes me wonder where we are all heading to. Design above functionality seems to be the driving force everywhere.
  6. While I can understand Jim's concerns I also think that the current state of OpenG is pretty much an eternal stasis, otherwise known as death. Considering that, any activity to revive the community effort, either under the umbrella of OpenG, G-Central or any other name you want is definitely welcome. And while I'm willing to work on such activities, organizing it has never been my strong point. I don't like politics, which is an integral part of organizing something like this. There are other problems with initiatives like this: People do usually need a job that pays the bills. They also have a life besides computers. And they frequently move on or loose motivation to work on such an initiative. One reason being that there is so much work to do and while quite a few people want to use it, there are very few wanting to contribute to it. Those who want to contribute often prefer to do it in their own way rather than help in an existing project. It's all unfortunate but very human.
  7. For what I and our company does it seems to be more than adequate, but then we don't focus on shiny web applications which sport the latest craze that changes every other year. We build test and manufacturing system where the UI is just a means to control the complex system not the means to its own end. In fact shiny, flashy user interfaces rather distract the operator from what he is meant to do so they are usually very sober and simple. For this the LabVIEW widgets are mostly more than enough and the way of creating a graphical user interface that simple works is still mostly unmatched in any other programming environment that I know.
  8. The problem is that NI seems to get out of a lot of hardware in recent years. Most Vision hardware has been discontinued or at least abandoned (no new products released and technical support on the still sold products is definitely sub-par compared to what it used to be in the past). NI Motion is completely discontinued (which is a smaller loss as it had its problems and NI never was fully commited to compete against companies like MKS/Newport and similar in that area). NI DAQ hasn't the same focus it used to have. NI clearly has set its targets on other areas and for some part moved on for some time already. That may be good news for their stock holders, but not so great news for their existing user base.
  9. Not out of the box. 32 bit LabVIEW interfaces to 32 bit Python. So you would need to have some 32 bit Python to 64 bit Tensor Flow remoting interface. If 64 bit LabVIEW is a requirement the lowest possible version is 2009 on Windows and around 2014 on the Mac and Linux platforms.
  10. If you want to take the Python route then of course. As far as the Call Library Node is concerned there is virtually no difference since at least LabVIEW 2009 and even before that the only real difference from 8.0 on onwards to 2009 is the automatic support for 32bit and 64 bit DLL interfacing at least if it is about pointers being passed directly as parameters. Once you deal with pointers inside structures you have to either create a wrapper DLL anyhow or deal with conditional code compilation on the LabVIEW diagram for the different bitnesses.
  11. NXG is Windows only anyhow. Sure NI says that they have been keeping options open for other platforms with NXG and to some extend that must be true because they need to be able to keep building executables for at least the NI Linux RT targets, but I would say it is a safe bet that the significantly longer than expected development time of LabVIEW NXG is not caused mainly by these attempts on maintaining full multiplatform support but that there have most probably rather been decisions to take shortcuts that make a mulitplatform version mostly unfeasable. NI's bet is maybe that .Net Core will eventually get mature enough so they can port NXG to other .Net Core supported platforms easily if and only if the market should turn at some point and Windows is suddenly turning into a niche product 😀. Python may be an option for those people who have used Visual Basic in the past but I do not see how you can efficiently build Python applications that combine all kinds of high performance IO such as DAQ, Vision, Instrument Control and Graphical User Interfaces all in one. Sure for many bench test systems that is not really needed and a command line operated test application can work too, but that's not quite what most customers want. 😂 And don't tell me there are GUI libraries for Python. I know there are, and I know there are people who have created amazing looking apps that way, but when did you last venture into calling GDI functions to build a GUI? I tried to create GUIs in Java a few years ago and that was a pretty painful experience. The graphical editors available for that are limited and flaky at best. Most autocreated code from them has eventually to be modified and even partly rewritten to get a decent working GUI. I can't see the Python GUI frameworks offering really a better experience.
  12. Actually unixODB does exist but it's not trivial to find drivers for some database systems that will work for your unixODBC version. The Microsoft SQL Server drivers for unixODBC require a very specific version of unixODBC to work with. The bigger problem however is that pretty much all database access libraries that exist for LabVIEW do this either through the ADO/DAO Active X interface or the .Net Database API which in turn internally interfaces to ODBC for the drivers that are not native ADO/DAO or .Net. Both Active X and .Net are not available in LabVIEW on non-Windows systems. So all those Database Toolkits will do nothing for you on a Linux system even if you would get unixODBC setup correctly and working with the driver. Accessing the ODBC API through Call Library Nodes is doable and has been done by some people under Windows although nothing is publicly available that would be considerable as a full toolkit. What I have seen is a starting point but not a full featured toolkit and porting it to work with the unixODBC API would be another extra effort. The ODBC API is complex enough to make this a bit of a challenge also because some of the API interface is not exactly LabVIEW friendly.
  13. Linux ODBC or iODBC or unixODBC work in principle. The idea is not bad but hampered by the fact that you need a compiled version of a database ODBC driver for your platform. As that is not generally something all database providers are eager to do, it makes unixODBC less interesting overall. In cases where you have a native driver like FreeTDS I would usually consider that preferable to trying to get unixODBC to work. unixODBC is an extra complication on top of a driver and the ODBC manager implementation is pretty complex in order to provide version compatibility between both higher and lower version ODBC clients and higher and lower version drivers.. This makes setting up a unixODBC installation more cumbersome. On the upside is of course the advantage to only have to interface to one API and connect to different databases simply by reconfiguring the connection.
  14. The VI sources are currently still in 7.0. mainly because one of my Linux test systems has the 7.0 version available. (The other is 8.6). I used to have projects that needed 7.1 support for this library.
  15. The SQL Server protocol has been reverse engineered as it is based on the old Sybase Tabular Data Stream format that Sybase did document at some point in a public document. Microsoft licensed the Sybase code and eventually created the SQL Server product from that. The underlaying network protocol is still very much the original TDS format with some extra features sprinkled into it by Microsoft over the years. This is the MS document from the original Sybase 4.2 version of the TDS documentation. This is a more detailed documentation about the later Microsoft modifications to the protocol. The "official" open source implementation of the TDS protocol is done by the FreeTDS project. Their implementation works also for the more modern 7.x protocol versions used in recent SQL Server versions, but as anything that was reverse engineered (even with proper protocol documentation) there are some obscure features that might not work properly with the FreeTDS implementation. Compiling the FreeTDS sources for a cRIO shouldn't be that complicated. Reimplementing it all in LabVIEW on top of the TCP primitives is theoretically also doable but the encryption features of this protocol will be hard to implement properly in this way.
  16. The lvzip.so file on normal Linux should generally remain in the root folder of the lvzip package for source code distributions. That should make sure that the application builder will include the shared library into the application build in a support folder (usually called data) on all platforms where that matters. Doesn't that work for you? I don't really have experience with application builds on Linux. I only use that platform for testing in the LabVIEW IDE and only really have two LabVIEW versions available for that. If LabVIEW does not automatically include shared libraries into an executable build on Linux you should probably include it explicitly in the build specification as always included and make sure it is put in the root folder of the application or the support folder. It's not as simple as taking the lvzlib.so from File Group 6 for any Linux application. I was trying to find a way in VIPM to directly specify which file was for which bitness in a package but it doesn't support that on file group basis so far, only on whole package base. Whichever shared library you use from that File Group needs to be called lvzlib.so though to make it work with the VIs. Some of these restrictions were dictated by the fact that I needed to support pre LabVIEW 2009 versions and some of my non Windows test environments are still based on such versions so just blanket upgrade everything to 2009 or beyond to get rid of some of these restrictions is not a simple option.
  17. That's most likely heavily influenced by the fact that the original Concept VI image analysis library, which they acquired from Graftec I believe, had to create some sort of handle like object without the ability to hack into LabVIEW itself. Their solution was to create a cluster with an image name string and some extra attributes including the actual pointer. They made the cluster such that only the string was visible. To a casual user it looked like it was just the name of the image but internally it consisted of a lot more. The name was used to register each handle in an internal list and each image could also be retrieved with the name only from this list when the handle had been getting invalid somehow. In hindsight it was not the ideal choice but back then (early 1990ies) LabVIEW programming was also not quite at the standard level of today. Error Clusters were not yet used throughout everything and most functions including that image library only returned an integer that could indicate an error code. External code programming in LabVIEW was entirely CIN based and refnums like they exist now in abundance only existed for file IO, and network.
  18. Not really unless you want to build some very custom stuff into your executable itself. And you would need an executable that does not statically link to the OpenG ZIP library as at the time you start it up, it can not reference the shared library anywhere or the loading will fail and the executable is not executable. To me that sounds like a lot more trouble than it's worth and you have the same issue with NI Toolkits. If you make use of (for instance DAQmx functions) you have to make sure the DAQmx driver is installed onto the target before you can deploy an executable that makes use of it. The Pharlap ETS platform did include some means of deploying shared libraries directly together with VIs when you deployed the program from the project but that may have sounded like a cool thing initially when a Windows DLL was simply executable on Pharlap too, but nowadays most Windows DLLs won't load on Pharlap and have to be created specifically for the Pharlap ETS target. For non Windows like OSes like the NI Linux RT system, where the elf shared library is all but Greek for the Windows based LabVIEW environment, this is even more complicated.
  19. The OpenG package file is simply a ZIP file in disguise, with an ini style package file (called spec) in the root that describes where the different file groups should go to in your LabVIEW installation and with restrictions for what version and platform they apply for. If you have 7-Zip installed you can right click on a *.ogp file and select 7-Zip->Open Archive. Then look in the directories for "File Group 8" and in there is the ogsetup.exe file. This is an Inno Setup file that installs the necessary packages into the correct NI Shared location for RT packages. I choose to do it this way as the files have to be installed in a location that has only write access when the process is evelated and rather than requiring the user to restart VIPM explicitly as admin (and trying to guess the correct location to write the files to from within a post install hook VI), I created an Inno Setup installer for the necessary files with an embedded manifest that requests elevation authorization from the user. After that and provided you have full cRIO support for NI Max for your target installed on your machine, you should be able to select the package in the Custom Software Install from within NI Max. Basically I choose to only extract the ogsetup.exe file into a LabVIEW 32-bit installation, since this is the only way to program LabVIEW RT programs anyway. I figured that the change that someone would want to install SW packages to a RT target from a computer that is not used to program that target too, would be a very unlikely situation.
  20. The difficulty is that it goes beyond the by value dataflow principle in LabVIEW. And there is no easy way to fix that. The reference nature for images is neccessary as otherwise you run out of memory very quickly when trying to process huge images. But it remains a strange duck in LabVIEW land and even I have sometimes to remind myself that IMAQ images work differently than standard LabVIEW data. You would think that the DVR might change that a little as it is in fact a similar concept but there you need a special node to access the internal data and that protects from most possible race conditions that might otherwise be not obvious. Not so for IMAQ images references.
  21. It's a named reference. You could think of it as a name and a pointer. There is an inherent mapping in it similar to other named references like VISA or DAQmx refnums. If you pass in a string, LabVIEW converts it automatically to a refnum by looking up the name in its internal registry for that refnum class. If you pass in a refnum whose internal "pointer" is a valid reference it will directly use that reference instead and save the intrinsic lookup in the refnum registry for the according class. (Class being here a refnum class not a LabVIEW class).
  22. Well I happen to have committed code in the last weeks to the lvZIP library including yesterday evening. Do I have to redo that to get it in the new GitHub stuff? And I'm still busy trying to add support for symlinks and utf8 filenames to the lvZIP library. The basic work to support this is mostly done. Just need to properly integrate it in the lvZIP library and then do some corner case testing on the non-mainstream platforms like Mac OSX, Pharlap and VxWorks. MacOSX because it is different to Unix in some ways and Pharlap and VxWorks since they do not support symlinks and multibyte encoding at all. My SF account name is labviewer.
  23. From the hardware manufacturer. They are responsible to support their product. Given their questionable license practice they may be out of business already or it could happen anytime in the future or they decided that the market wasn't good enough to pay for real development expenses and stopped supporting the product. Whatever, if they can't help you nobody else can. Developing such a product is for sure a serious investment but every company sooner or later learns that maintaining and supporting such a product in the long term costs even more in terms of resources and that is where things get usually abandoned after the initial excitement. The technology is complicated enough that they can't just throw the product on the market and hope for NI to carry the software development burden and cost. There are enough subtle ways to make the NI software NOT work seamless with such a product and that doesn't even need explicit intent.
  24. A Samsung EVO 960 has a maximum transfer speed of 1.5GB/s and that assumes that it uses NVE rather than SATA. With an EVO 970 you get close to 2GB/s. This are ideal rates and require that the PCI bus controller and disk have an optimal connection and the PCI bus controller has near perfect chipset drivers. The reality is generally somewhat below that and the software bindings inside user space are usually even less performant. Old SATA based SSDs max out at around 500MB/s and that is bus imposed. There is no way to go above that with SATA. The FPGA DMA tech is pretty impressive but I would be surprised if they can go beyond 1GB/s.
  25. The comment about being able to choose more than one selection is not true since it is a radio button list that resets any previous selection when you select something new. For me I selected my own (company framework) which can sometimes vary since there are customers who use their own framework too. But I also have used DCAF and similar systems which had a CVT backend for most of the data handling.
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