LabVIEW 8.6 Quick Drop is awesome (and an unfair advantage)!

Posted on Tuesday 26 August 2008

I’m lucky enough to have a new project that will be developed in LabVIEW 8.6 (which was just released at NIWeek 2008), so I get to start using various new features like Darren’s totaly awesome Quick Drop tool.  I’m really excited to start using Quick Drop, because I saw Darren (the LabVIEW R&D team member who created it) use it during the NIWeek 2008 coding challenge and he was able to code ridiculously fast.  Seriously, you’ve got to see it to believe it.  He’s even faster than me!

Quick Drop even works with OpenG VIs!
Now, that’s an unfair advantage.

In fact, I didn’t even bother to enter the coding speed challenge at NIWeek this year (which I won at NIWeek 2005), because I saw how fast Darren was coding during the NIWeek keynote (here is a video of it), and my LabVIEW skills were more than a little bit rusty at NIWeek 2008, as I hadn’t touched LabVIEW for 3 weeks (I was traveling for a wedding, and also visiting some of my European LabVIEW buddies, in France).  Ya, excuses, excuses…

So, instead of competing, I hid in the JKI booth and pretended to be too busy to enter the contest.  Of course, I didn’t want to loose my unofficial “fasted LabVIEW coder on the planet (or at least, NIWeek)” title in a head-to-head match up against Darren — the dude is fast!  I wanted to at least have some time to practice using the Quick Drop tool and try to level the playing field.  Then, I’d come back and challenge Darren to a fair match — pretty sneaky huh?

Speaking of fair competition, they weren’t even letting contestants use OpenG VIs in the coding speed contest, this year (I guess OpenG is an unfair advantage).  Like Darren didn’t have an unfair advantage ;)

All joking aside, the Quick Drop tool is amazing.  It’s basically like auto-completion for text-based languages (so, it gives text-based programmers one less reason not to go graphical).  Just press Ctrl+Space and then type the name of the VI or function you want to place on the Block Diagram.  As the list of possible items appears, press Enter to select the top item in the list, or click on any other item, to place it on the Block Diagram.  It really lives up to it’s name by allowing you to quickly drop nodes onto the block diagram.  There’s no doubt it will become one of your favorite tools in LabVIEW, once you give it a try.

5 Comments for 'LabVIEW 8.6 Quick Drop is awesome (and an unfair advantage)!'

    August 26, 2008 | 4:05 am

    One of my favorite LabVIEW 8.6 features is the block diagram cleanup button!

    August 26, 2008 | 7:53 am

    Thanks for promoting my feature, Jim! Oh, and I guess the Coding Challenge team had a change of heart at some point, because in the NI Week 2008 challenge, we were able to use whatever addons or mods to LabVIEW we wanted…I’m not sure what Robert used (and he was a worthy opponent, by the way), but all I needed was my LabVIEW.ini file, which had all my Quick Drop shortcuts!

    One more thing…you mention pressing Enter or clicking an object name in Quick Drop to drop the item…did you know there’s an even faster way? If the object you want is currently auto-completed in the text box, all you need to do is click in the VI, which will dismiss Quick Drop, and drop the object you had selected wherever you clicked…so it skips the whole step of putting the object on your cursor. I like to call this method “Super Quick Drop”, and I’d say it’s what I do about 95% of the time I use Quick Drop.

    August 26, 2008 | 9:14 am

    Susan: I think the block diagram cleanup button is great, but I have a couple issues with it: 1) it’s not written in LabVIEW — it’s written in C (ya, I’m biased). 2) I code cleaner (based on my own standards) than the cleanup tool, so running it on my code actually makes it a little less clean ;)

    Darren: You’re very welcome and deserving of the praise! And, thanks for the tip on the “Super Quick Drop” — I’m going to start trying that.

    August 26, 2008 | 9:28 am

    Darren, I don’t remember if I mentioned it before, but one thing I don’t like about QD is that it only auto completes if the match is exact and for any other case you have to manually select what you want from the listbox.

    Example – Let’s say you want to get the file size, but you don’t remember the function name, so you type “fil siz”. Even though there are matches, you can’t just click Enter or outside QD. You have to select one of the results first using the mouse or the arrow keys.

    This is often my use case in my own tool and having the tool select the most likely result automatically makes it much easier to use in this scenario. I have a feeling many people who will not want to remember a list of shortcuts would appreciate this behavior.

    Another nice feature would be to open the containing palette using Shift+Enter. This is useful if you want to use several functions from the same palette.

    Alessandro Ricco
    October 8, 2008 | 4:07 am

    Usefull but not completely new… i mean try the search button on the function pallete in LV7.1 you’ll obtain more or less the same behavior of QD except for the shortcut


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