User Interface and the Dependency Manager

For those who have been reading my last posts, in Part 1 and Part 2 of my posts about managing dependencies I wrote about the App I developed for managing my dependencies.

The fact is, I needed a new shape for the app, and also redesign the code. It was initially a Proof of Concept and then became a production app. I know you all have gone through this, and the problem was: it worked, but I couldn’t maintain anymore, too confusing, not testing included, full of unknown bugs, yeah, you got the point.

The Research

I am particularly not good at designing user interfaces, and for that reason I went through research on good practices, and I found good articles on this matter. There is a lot of posts saying LabVIEW is not good for UI. I kind of disagree, I think LabVIEW is not easy to do a good UI, but sure you can do a very good one.

First I looked into the VIPM packages and found some interesting packages to use as a basis for a user interface, for my lucky they now have packages list at VIPM.io and there is one about Controls for User Interface.

I haven’t gone through all of them, but I took a few to analyze and withdraw some ideas.

Also, there are interesting presentations on this theme, I really like the one from Arev Hambardzumyan in #GdevCon, and how far we can go on designing beautiful UI with LabVIEW, and of course, along with some graphical designers.

There are also some other presentations as the one from Matthias Baudot and Fabiola de La Cueva, not specifically about UI, but they give some interesting tips in the overall development of an application. In JKI Blog I also found some interesting tips about using a custom Title Bar.

Prototyping

I believe prototyping UI is a good way of using your creativity and get away a moment from the Development Environment. Often when we try to do something directly in LabVIEW we keep trying to let the control/indicator in final appearance, and in that time we lose focus. For this reason, I like prototyping tools because you can focus on the appearance and usage and not how you will do it.

I found two apps that are really good and I’d recommend them. Mockplus and the Balsmiq Wireframes. Both of them are paid, but they are worth it. Mockplus has a reduced free version for non-commercial use, but Balsamiq has only a trial period.

Unfortunately, the free apps are good for other uses such as website, but for prototyping desktop apps they lack some basic features.

The UI

All that said, I came up with an interesting user interface.

If you are already asking, I answer: no, I didn’t create all from the scratch. First I did some research on other package managers in between, and got some inspiration. All I know is that for LabVIEW Users a UI would be much better than a CLI, but the latter is still useful on some cases (builds, CI, etc.).

With this in hand I’ll try to discuss with my colleagues to define better some use cases, and improve it, but this time will be already in LabVIEW.

Do you think LabVIEW is suitable for working with User Interfaces?

Let me know what you think about this and the Prototype UI in the comments below.

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