Once upon a time there was a quack named <your name>. Everyday <your name> arrived to work to solve complicated technical problems with their mighty intellect and LabVIEW development skills. These skills, wielded like a sharp sword helped <your name> slay even the toughest of challenging problems. One day, <your name> faced a looming dreadline that threatened impending doom if <your name> could not dispatch of it quickly enough.
Because of its quick moving ally ti me, the dreadline quickly consumed the soul of <your name> as they fought to repel its suffocating weight. With every advanced towards defeating their dreadline they found that they suffered large setbacks to the ranks Time as they struggled to keep their battlefield clear horde of tasks time threw at them. This horde was easy to overcome but its sheer numbers meant that <your name> couldn’t make any significant progress towards defeating dreadline. As the battle progressed <your name> spent so much time clearing a path to the dreadline through the never-ending horde of time that the dreadline was able to flank <your name> and dispatch them in one ultimate crushing blow. feelsbadman.
We have all had this feeling at one point or another. We spend so much time dispatching the small tasks of the horde that we make no real progress towards our ultimate deadline. Unlike <your name>, I’m not as graceful with my sword of development and often I find large piles of carnage that I need to sort through to make progress towards finishing my ultimate goal. Block diagrams become a mess and front panels a jumble of indicators that I can’t make heads or tails of because there is too much information to sort through. Luckily for me LabVIEW provides tools that aid in dispatching some of these. Auto-cleanup, align-left, and distribute all help me sort out the carnage that I have left behind. Sadly, often these tools aren’t enough or may not solve the problems that you run into on your battlefield.
Enter Quick Drop. If you have never used Quick Drop, Darren Nattinger (The creator of Quick Drop) has written a great introduction of Quick Drop.
Most of us know have come to know Quick Drop as a shortcut through the clunky pallets that were once standard. Most LabVIEW users stop here and use Quick Drop as a basic search bar for the pallet menus. However, if we stop there we are missing one of the largest benefits that Quick Drop has to offer. Plugins.
Most of us write a decent amount of code daily and we likely preform the same tasks a few times a day. Quick Drop lets users install and even write their own plugins that can solve these nuisance problems with the push of a button. These plugins when assigned to a hotkey efficiently dispatch problems that you run into often. For example, a coworker of mine wrote a nifty plugin that takes two objects on a block diagram and moves them so that the wire connecting them is straight. Seems dumb right? But how many times did you do that today? At least 3 or 4. You clicked on the thing and moved it around with the arrow keys until that wire was straight. I often find that the set of plugins that I use get used so much that I forget they aren’t part of LabVIEW until I work in someone else’s environment.
Quick Drop plugins come in a variety of shapes and sizes as LabVIEW allows users to create custom code that the Quick Drop engine can call. Quick Drop ships with a few plugins that you can try and even a template to start writing your own. If this interests you, check out Darren Nattinger’s post “Getting Started with custom Quick Drop shortcuts“ that describes in more detail how to create these shortcuts. Over the past year, I have been curating my own collection of these plugins that help me battle through the day. As an experienced developer I’m sure that you’ve probably accumulated a few of your own tricks during your adventures through the realm of LabVIEW. If not, or even if you just want to share what you’ve found, I’ve stored my favorite tricks in a git repository that I encourage you to go clone or fork. I’d love feedback on how I could improve my tools or other tools that I could add to make our collective development more efficient.
You can find this repository here: https://bitbucket.org/endigit/quickdrop/
It contains useful tools like:
- Front Panel Magic (auto clean for the front panel)
- Straighten Wire (shown above)
- Alignment Shortcuts (like the ones you have to click on in the editor but as hotkeys)
- Error Formatter (Makes all of the error controls on a front panel look the same)
- And a few other useful bits.
Also you might check the community page for other things that you might find useful. Either way I hope you found something useful in this post, if you decide to write your own plugins let me know and I would be glad to help.