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NI's New Software Subscription Model


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On 12/27/2021 at 2:05 PM, FixedWire said:

So folks...what about a Plan B?

Python may have become a "fav" in some circles but having to dig for plugins is a pain at best and a disaster in the making if the code is anywhere near a regulated environment. Rolf nailed it with far too much code that just works but lacks architecture or isn't hardened. Choosing that one plugin could derail a project so fast if it needs to be rewritten.  In the real world we need tools that we can rely on.

Has anyone looked into Uno Platform or Avalonia? You'd think at this point and time one could build out projects that could easily port between Windows, Mac & Linux. Uno works off of C# & the .NET and thus caught my attention.

Just re-reading the above pains me for all this superb community does. So many sharp minds here, something good will evolve!

 

The majority of my own career has been based upon LabVIEW. I was exposed to it in college for a semester in 1999 and have loved using it ever since.  Unfortunately, my dream of working for an NI Alliance partner in order to really develop my LabVIEW skills, (like many of you lucky bums) never became reality (I was normally the sole LabVIEW guy.  Now I'm part of a very small group with varying levels of proficiency).

I've dabbled a little in various text based programming over the years, but never really spent enough time to be as proficient like I have been able to in LabVIEW.  Therefore, I need to start thinking about a "Plan B" myself in the event that my company, for whatever reason, declares that "...henceforth, shalt thou NOT use LabVIEW and TestStand...".  If that ends up being the case, I may have to seek alternative employment unless they are willing to send me to classes to properly learn the new programming language du jour.

19 hours ago, ShaunR said:

Codetyphon (WISIWIG IDE)

This piqued my interest and I downloaded it to give it a look.  The majority of what I currently do in LabVIEW involves user interfaces, so WISIWIG looks ideal.  From the screenshots I saw, it reminded me of the days when I dabbled in VB6.

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6 hours ago, Bryan said:

This piqued my interest and I downloaded it to give it a look.  The majority of what I currently do in LabVIEW involves user interfaces, so WISIWIG looks ideal.  From the screenshots I saw, it reminded me of the days when I dabbled in VB6.

It has that feel to it but it is far more powerful.

CodeTyphon is really a fork of Lazarus but with all components already packaged. That makes it a bit daunting to begin with as there are multiple components to choose from that are very similar - but not quite - since they are from different tool-sets to do the same things.

Just get it installed and have a look through the (hundreds?) of examples (Under Tools>>CodeOcean Examples).

The big boon of it though is that the IDE runs on most Desktops and from there it can compile native code for hundreds of targets. At that point you are way down the rabbit hole from the forms editor, though.

Another plus is that it can use Lazarus and Delphi components. So if you have 3 different sources of projects and components you can leverage.

Edited by ShaunR
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Speaking about plan "B", I hope that NI will change their decision and will provide perpetual licenses again.
Subscription is a way for big industrial companies, but for individuals, small companies and start-ups it isn't an option.
Labview was invented as tool for engineers which helps do their job, not just another tool for marketing stuff, it would be nice keep it in mind.

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I've setup a number of labs, including the test automation. In my previous couple labs I based the automation on LabVIEW. I enjoy programming in LabVIEW and have become quite proficient at it. Unfortunately, my junior engineers and design engineers can't seem to get used to it. The only reason they used it is because I forced them to. I am going to start a new lab, and I was researching if I should use LabVIEW or... something else. That's when I found out NI has gone to subscription only. My company probably doesn't mind, but I do. It is a sign that LabVIEW is on its way out and that NI has gone completely to the dark side. I can program in Python, but I don't really want to go to Python for the reasons that have already been mentioned by others in this thread. So, plan "B". But there is no plan "B", which is very unfortunate. I know what I want my automation software to do and look like, but it does not exist. I'm not sure I'm up to the task of making my own, so I guess I'm stuck with going to Python, unless NI suddenly changes course.

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17 hours ago, Tlam said:

 But there is no plan "B", which is very unfortunate. I know what I want my automation software to do and look like, but it does not exist. I'm not sure I'm up to the task of making my own, so I guess I'm stuck with going to Python, unless NI suddenly changes course.

What type of instrumentation and data acquisition systems does your lab work with ?  Mostly VISA type serial/gpib/LXI instruments or mostly data acquisition cards / PXI chassis type stuff?

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10 hours ago, Mads said:

What I do not understand about the decision to change it into a subscription model is the timing (and pricing). With the (predicted) failure of NXG, NI should lay low and try to save as many customers as possible from running off scared. Looking at the numbers and seeing how much money they threw at NXG it seems as if they think; well we need to cover that cost...

What they should do is conclude that they need to seriously change (revert?) how they run their business (especially the LabVIEW development projects). The true cost of NXG will continue to rise by causing damage to their brand; unless they *simplify* ownership, *lower* the price, increase the work to recruit new (starting with students) and keep customers -AND invest the required amounts into developing a proper "NXG" (it is the foundation for the ecosystem that makes NI great, the cost of it has to be divided on the whole system, not just the SW itself).

When that work is well on its way, and only then, they can think about subscriptions (the SSP solution is much more customer friendly though) and increased prices.

You need to talk to this guy: https://wallmine.com/people/16547/eric-howard-starkloff whose bio on NI's website (https://www.ni.com/en-us/about-ni/leadership/starkloff.html) says:

Quote

Eric began his career at NI as an application engineer and, for more than two decades, has been instrumental in defining and implementing the company’s strategic direction. His leadership is focused on delivering results to NI’s key stakeholders through a strategy that’s built on disruptive technology and informed by customer needs to get accessible technology to market faster.

There is a typo above though: read shareholders instead of stakeholders. I guess "disruptive" should be understood as meaning "disrupt your customers' ability to stay ahead" and "informed by customer needs" means... exactly the opposite. At least the "get accessible technology to market faster" was not what I would have called NXG's experiment.

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2 hours ago, X___ said:

Eric began his career at NI as an application engineer and, for more than two decades, has been instrumental in defining and implementing the company’s strategic direction. His leadership is focused on delivering results to NI’s key stakeholders through a strategy that’s built on disruptive technology and informed by customer needs to get accessible technology to market faster.

If they had put "Synergy" in there we would have had a full house in BS Bingo. :) This seems to have been written by PR and is usually an indication of few tangible achievements.

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7 hours ago, bbean said:

What type of instrumentation and data acquisition systems does your lab work with ?  Mostly VISA type serial/gpib/LXI instruments or mostly data acquisition cards / PXI chassis type stuff?

Hi bbean, most of the equipment I deal with uses GPIB/ethernet/serial type interfaces (scopes, BERTs, specans, power supplies, SMUs, etc.)

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7 hours ago, ShaunR said:

If they had put "Synergy" in there we would have had a full house in BS Bingo. :) This seems to have been written by PR and is usually an indication of few tangible achievements.

Maybe not:

https://www.edn.com/profiles-in-test-eric-starkloff-ni/

https://www.chron.com/news/article/BW-National-Instruments-Leader-to-Deliver-D2M-1663383.php

https://www.ni.com/pdf/q400newsletters/us/q400inlpg1to13.pdf

https://www.electronicdesign.com/search?ebm_electronicdesign[query]=eric starkloff

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16 hours ago, X___ said:

There is a typo above though: read shareholders instead of stakeholders. I guess "disruptive" should be understood as meaning "disrupt your customers' ability to stay ahead" and "informed by customer needs" means... exactly the opposite. At least the "get accessible technology to market faster" was not what I would have called NXG's experiment.

Actually shareholders can be stakeholders too. Stakeholder is anyone who has a significant (usually directly or indirectly monetary or otherwise motivated) interest in something. 🙂

The disruptive sounds actually rather bad in my ears but it seems to have been getting a different meaning in marketing nowadays.

And Synergy comes everytime up when NI acquires another company. It's one of the most used reasons why an acquisition is a good thing. You can't say of course that you simply buy up possible competition. 🙂

Edited by Rolf Kalbermatter
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6 hours ago, ShaunR said:

 

I rest my case.

I do not like to judge anyone by their official background but if we are talking about it his background prior to that seems to be mainly in hardware and testing.

He has a lot of chiefs, vice presidents and fellows under him though...(Too many, with too much overlap is my initial reaction). I do not fully grasp how the top management ended up with those particular titles, but based on their titles I assume the two most responsible below him in the hierarchy for taking care of LabVIEW are the newly hired CTO, Thomas Benjamin (with SaaS background) and Scott Rust, as the Executive Vice President, Platform & Products, or?

Where in the organization does Omid Sojoodi , the Senior Vice President of R&D, Software sit? This is the best organizational map I found. It has one role specifically for software strategy, but that's a software *sales* strategy role it seems?

 

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I've met Eric and Omid.  I can't vouch for their intentions, or background.  I can say they were friendly energetic guys and on the surface seemed to have good intentions for NI as a whole.  Didn't know Eric was worth $14 Million.  Also didn't know Jeff K. is worth $112 Million.

Anecdotally I've always thought that those at the very bottom, and very top of an organization generally do good things for the company.  I've generally seen the corruption, cheating, stealing, and short sited poor decision making happen at the middle management level.

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6 hours ago, Rolf Kalbermatter said:

The disruptive sounds actually rather bad in my ears but it seems to have been getting a different meaning in marketing nowadays.

In this context it just means challenging existing monopolies, orthodoxies or methods. Text-book examples would be things like streaming to terrestrial TV, block-chain to banking etc.

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I think the biggest problem with the subscription model is that it does not set incentives correctly for NI.

In the olden days, a company had to actually improve their software and innovate in order to get paid more money every year. Now, with the subscription model, all they have to do is "lock someone in" to their platform, and they get paid forever.

Why continue to add new features to your software every year? Your suc......err....customers.... HAVE to pay you. Even if you don't continue to improve the software.

In this new model, what financial incentive does NI now have to continue improving LabVIEW? It seems to me like they only need to just enough to keep existing users from leaving. That's not exactly innovative stuff.

You know what it leads to? Flat revenue for the product line. You know what Wall Street hates?

Edited by Reds
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On 12/27/2021 at 8:38 PM, Gribo said:

I can amortize 20,000$ one time license costs, I can't amortize 500$/ month subscription. Python seems more attractive every day. 

Related: Color of money is a big deal in corporations. Especially in sectors like defense and government. I've seen huge buckets of government money that have one big stipulation: They can ONLY be spent on CapEx, not OpEx.

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5 hours ago, Rolf Kalbermatter said:

Unfortunately I do think there is a strategy behind this. In the past NI was a company centered around hardware sales in the form of computer plugin cards. The fact that they were a lot better in providing good and well designed supporting software for that hardware was for years a distinguishing factor that made them grow while the competition had a hard catch up game to do and eventually all more or less faltered. The software in itself never really was the money maker, much of it even was given away free with the hardware and was considered a supporting expenditure that was financed with part of the profit for the hardware. 

When they had pretty much the whole market of what they possibly could get, they run into the problem that there was very little grow in this market anymore for them. So they set out to find new markets and moved towards turn key semiconductor testers that they could sell a dozen a time to the big semiconductor manufacturers for big money. Suddenly those pesky DAQ cards and DAQ boxes were just a margin anymore and they were at best a supporting technology, but the accompanying software was getting more an more a costly burden rather than a supporting technology. Nowadays there isn't one NI marketing but each division has pretty much its own marketing department and is also its independent profit center. And then an independent software/LabVIEW division suddenly shows mainly as a post in the cost category that doesn't bring in as much as it costs. So they try to increase the income but I think they missed that train already 15 years ago when they were refusing to consider other venues for LabVIEW. Nowadays the LabVIEW community is a marginalized small group of enthusiast who are looked at by the rest of the industry as a bunch of crazies who can't let go of their pet IDE and the rest of the world has moved on to Python and .Net and will move on to another hype in a few years.

And the higher NI management is likely aware of that. While I do believe that the LabVIEW developers and the managers who directly work there really would like to make LabVIEW a good and flourishing product, I feel the higher management has already decided that this is going to be a dead end and have very little intentions to do anything else than let it bleed to death, so they can get rid of that liability.

That is about my feeling also, but it has more value coming from a former insider. At the very least, I don't expect any official denial coming from NI 🙂

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On 1/8/2022 at 11:42 AM, Rolf Kalbermatter said:

I feel the higher management has already decided that this is going to be a dead end

Tin foil hat time :)

We know there were discussions about SaaS that the LabVIEW dev team were resisting. I think this is the real reason why AQ left.

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Yep, I remember when Tim Dehne left NI, rumor I heard at the time was he wanted to become CEO and understood he would never make it, then left.
Indeed it took a long time for Dr T to retire.

But hey, pretty sure the rumor was not the full story, so many VPs were competing for that.

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16 hours ago, ShaunR said:

Tin foil hat time :)

We know there were discussions about SaaS that the LabVIEW dev team were resisting. I think this is the real reason why AQ left.

He didn't leave and in fact should be back by now: 

 

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