Types of Instrument Drivers

LabVIEW 2018 Help

Edition Date: March 2018
Part Number: 371361R-01
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You can use Plug and Play and Interchangeable Virtual Instrument (IVI) driver types to control instruments in LabVIEW. National Instruments considers drivers Certified or Noncertified depending on if they meet specific requirements.

Plug and Play Instrument Drivers

A LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument driver is a set of VIs that controls and communicates with a programmable instrument. Each VI corresponds to a programmatic operation, such as configuring, reading from, writing to, or triggering an instrument. LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers include error handling, front panels, block diagrams, icons, and help. Because LabVIEW Plug and Play drivers maintain a common architecture and interface, you can quickly connect to and communicate with an instrument with very little or no code development. Project-style drivers take advantage of the LabVIEW project and library. You can use project-style drivers in the same way as previous LabVIEW Plug and Play drivers.

Use the NI Instrument Driver Finder to search for and install LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers without leaving the LabVIEW development environment. Select Tools»Instrumentation»Find Instrument Drivers or Help»Find Instrument Drivers to launch the Instrument Driver Finder. If you want to download IVI and contributed drivers, use the Instrument Driver Network. You also can search for National Instruments drivers at NI Drivers and Updates on the National Instruments Web site.

IVI Instrument Drivers

National Instruments IVI drivers are sophisticated, DLL-based drivers developed in LabWindows™/CVI™ that allow for simulation and instrument interchangeability. You do not have to rewrite an application to use it with a similar instrument type. For example, you can write a VI that works with several different brands of oscilloscopes, even if those oscilloscopes use different bus connections. To achieve interchangeability, the IVI Foundation, which develops IVI standards, defines specifications for the following instrument classes: DMM, oscilloscope, arbitrary waveform/function generator, DC power supply, switch, power meter, spectrum analyzer, and RF signal generator. Use IVI drivers for the following additional benefits: instrument state caching for improved performance, multithread safety, and instrument attribute access. Refer to IVI on the National Instruments Web site for more information about IVI instrument drivers.

To convert an instrument driver written in LabWindows/CVI, download the LabVIEW Instrument Driver Import Wizard from the National Instruments Web site.

Instrument Driver Certification

Certified instrument drivers comply with instrument driver standards including programming style, error handling, documentation, and functional testing.

Noncertified instrument drivers typically solve a specific application need and are not usually fully functional. They are provided as is and are not supported by National Instruments.

Refer to the NI Developer Zone for more information on Instrument Driver Certification.

Using VISA

VISA is a standard I/O API for instrumentation programming that provides the building blocks for instrument drivers. Refer to Using VISA in LabVIEW for more information on using VISA.

Installing Instrument Drivers

You can search for and install existing LabVIEW instrument drivers.


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