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LabVIEW vs Java for FRC robotics


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I just join a team of the First Robotic Competition and was surprised that there is a discussion on which language should be used to program the robot.

I argued for LabVIEW but they had a not so good experience last year because none of them knew LabVIEW before starting the project. Another guy is arguing for JAVA because he knows it best.

Anyone has some experience using both? if so what are the pro and con of each?

Any argument to defend LabVIEW?



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If your team has the resources to do both, do both. The team I mentored did both a C++ and LabVIEW robot. They would alternate which code base they used each competition. Additionally, depending again on resources, develop some side projects using each language. For instance, if you're stronger in Java, use that for the main robot, but develop a separate robot (a t-shirt launcher is what we did) using the alternative.

The obvious upshoot of either of these is that you get more students involved, which is what FIRST is about.

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Thank you for taking the time to mentor an FRC team. I'm starting my third year mentoring an FRC team and we have successfully used both LabVIEW and Java. If you want to find list of LV vs. Java vs. C++ vs. Python, etc... look on cheifdelphi.

FRC build season is very chaotic. You have six weeks to prototype, design, build and test your robot. This means that the time you software team has with the completed robot will be very short. Your students that are programming need to be very comfortable with the tools and hardware that they are interfacing with.

Students generally have more experience with text based languages than with LabVIEW. Most high schools teach C++ and Java. High School AP computer programming uses Java. When you are in a stressful situation (build season), it is not a good time to be learning new concepts. Data flow is a very different animal than sequential programming or OOP.

Does this mean that I think that you should use Java and not LabVIEW? No! But, you do need to understand why they may not immediately see the beauty of LabVIEW. To have your students program effectively with LabVIEW you need to work with them in the off season. There are many good resources for teaching LabVIEW to FRC students. A good place to start is www.ni.com/frc. (Oh, I see you've cross-posted this question there.)

I disagree with the idea of dual development (Java and LabVIEW). Like I mentioned earlier, your test time on the competition robot will be very short. Testing two different programs will be difficult and it will take away practice time from your drivers.

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I disagree with the idea of dual development (Java and LabVIEW). Like I mentioned earlier, your test time on the competition robot will be very short. Testing two different programs will be difficult and it will take away practice time from your drivers.

We built two robots. Between the time the first one is (mostly) complete and tested and the first bagging we build the second one. This allows us not only to refine the mechanics, but gives software more time to develop, and plenty of time for the drivers to practice as well.

Having spoken with a mentor of the HOT team (67) just before St. Louis 2011, they do this as well (2 robots, 2 languages). If memory serves, the main team featured in The New Cool also builds a second robot, though only one programming language is used. (That season anyway)

Again, this depends a lot on resources. Both students, mentors, and of course, funds.

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