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LabVIEW Custom Documentation Formats


LabVIEW is a necessary and constant evil with my work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, but sometimes it pulls through. Earlier today I found myself with a need to extract a whole bunch of icons, block diagrams and VI hierarchies a bunch of LabVIEW programs for some documentation I was writing. In my case, I was using LaTeX and wanted to include visuals from my LabVIEW stuff.

Up until now I thought this would mean trying to do a million screenshots over VNC on my work computer, and then going back and cropping what I needed. This seemed horrible though and on further research I was thrilled to find out that LabVIEW can pretty much do this on its own. See the NI website on printing VI documentation.

Basically what I did was import the VI hierarchy for my top level VI (the lab dashboard in my case), create a custom format for my documentation, check off what I want to appear, and then output it all as HTML. Since the directory where the HTML was generated is now chock full o’ images, I just took what ones I wanted and inserted them into my documentation and discarded the HTML. Just goes to show you how a user can find many different ways to use a one part of a program for what it might not have originally been intended. Probably a couple hours of tedious screenshotting saved! And I can re-run the process any time if things change.

Tags: Harvard | Astrophysics | Labview | Documentation

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