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Icons and Connector Panes

Module by: National Instruments. E-mail the author

After you build a VI front panel and block diagram, build the icon and the connector pane so you can use the VI as a subVI.

Creating an Icon

vi_icon.png Every VI displays an icon, shown in Media 1, in the upper right corner of the front panel and block diagram windows. An icon is a graphical representation of a VI. It can contain text, images, or a combination of both. If you use a VI as a subVI, the icon identifies the subVI on the block diagram of the VI.

The default icon contains a number that indicates how many new VIs you have opened since launching LabVIEW. Create custom icons to replace the default icon by right-clicking the icon in the upper right corner of the front panel or block diagram and selecting Edit Icon from the shortcut menu or double-clicking the icon in the upper right corner of the front panel. You also can edit icons by selecting File>>VI Properties selecting General from the Category pull-down menu, and clicking the Edit Icon button.

Use the tools on the left side of the Icon Editor dialog box to create the icon design in the editing area. The normal size image of the icon appears in the appropriate box to the right of the editing area, as shown in the dialog box in Figure 1.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (iconeditor.png)

Depending on the type of monitor you use, you can design a separate icon for monochrome, 16-color, and 256-color mode. LabVIEW uses the monochrome icon for printing unless you have a color printer.

Use the Edit menu to cut, copy, and paste images from and to the icon. When you select a portion of the icon and paste an image, LabVIEW resizes the image to fit into the selection area. You also can drag a graphic from anywhere in your file system and drop it in the upper right corner of the front panel or block diagram. LabVIEW converts the graphic to a 32×32 32 32 pixel icon.

Use the Copy from option on the right side of the Icon Editor dialog box to copy from a color icon to a black-and-white icon and vice versa. After you select a Copy from option, click the OK button to complete the change.

Note:

If you do not draw a complete border around a VI icon, the icon background appears transparent. When you select the icon on the block diagram, a selection marquee appears around each individual graphic element in the icon.

Use the tools on the left side of the Icon Editor dialog box to create the icon design in the editing area. The normal size image of the icon appears in the appropriate box to the right of the editing area. The following tasks can be performed with these tools:

  • pencil.png Use the Pencil tool to draw and erase pixel by pixel.
  • line.png Use the Line tool to draw straight lines. To draw horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, press the <Shift> key while you use this tool to drag the cursor.
  • colorcpy.png Use the Color Copy tool to copy the foreground color from an element in the icon.
  • fill.png Use the Fill tool to fill an outlined area with the foreground color.
  • rect.png Use the Rectangle tool to draw a rectangular border in the foreground color. Double-click this tool to frame the icon in the foreground color.
  • fillrect.png Use the Filled Rectangle tool to draw a rectangle with a foreground color frame and filled with the background color. Double-click this tool to frame the icon in the foreground color and fill it with the background color.
  • select.png Use the Select tool to select an area of the icon to cut, copy, move, or make other changes. Double-click this tool and press the <Delete> key to delete the entire icon.
  • text.png Use the Text tool to enter text into the icon. Double-click this tool to select a different font. (Windows) The Small Fonts option works well in icons.
  • frbkgrnd.png Use the Foreground/Background tool to display the current foreground and background colors. Click each rectangle to display a color palette from which you can select new colors.
  • Use the options on the right side of the editing area to perform the following tasks:
    • Show Terminals : Displays the terminal pattern of the connector pane.
    • OK : Saves the drawing as the icon and returns to the front panel.
    • Cancel : Returns to the front panel without saving any changes.
  • The menu bar in the Icon Editor dialog box contains more editing options such as Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste , and Clear .

Setting Up the Connector Pane

conpane.png To use a VI as a subVI, you need to build a connector pane, shown in Media 12. The connector pane is a set of terminals that corresponds to the controls and indicators of that VI, similar to the parameter list of a function call in text-based programming languages. The connector pane defines the inputs and outputs you can wire to the VI so you can use it as a subVI.

Define connections by assigning a front panel control or indicator to each of the connector pane terminals. To define a connector pane, right-click the icon in the upper right corner of the front panel window and select Show Connector from the shortcut menu. The connector pane replaces the icon. Each rectangle on the connector pane represents a terminal. Use the rectangles to assign inputs and outputs. The number of terminals LabVIEW displays on the connector pane depends on the number of controls and indicators on the front panel. The following front panel has four controls and one indicator, so LabVIEW displays four input terminals and one output terminal on the connector pane.

Figure 2
Figure 2 (slopefp.png)

Selecting and Modifying Terminal Patterns

Select a different terminal pattern for a VI by right-clicking the connector pane and selecting Patterns from the shortcut menu. Select a connector pane pattern with extra terminals. You can leave the extra terminals unconnected until you need them. This flexibility enables you to make changes with minimal effect on the hierarchy of the VIs. You also can have more front panel controls or indicators than terminals.

A solid border highlights the pattern currently associated with the icon. The maximum number of terminals available for a subVI is 28.

standpatt.png The most commonly used pattern is shown in Media 14. This pattern is used as a standard to assist in simplifying wiring. The top inputs and outputs are commonly used for passing references and the bottom inputs and outputs are used for error handling. Refer to the section on Clusters for more information about error handling.

Note:

Try not to assign more than 16 terminals to a VI. Too many terminals can reduce the readability and usability of the VI.

To change the spatial arrangement of the connector pane patterns, right-click the connector pane and select Flip Horizontal, Flip Vertical, or Rotate 90 Degrees from the shortcut menu.

Assigning Terminals to Controls and Indicators

After you select a pattern to use for the connector pane, you must define connections by assigning a front panel control or indicator to each of the connector pane terminals. When you link controls and indicators to the connector pane, place inputs on the left and outputs on the right to prevent complicated, unclear wiring patterns in your VIs.

To assign a terminal to a front panel control or indicator, click a terminal of the connector pane, then click the front panel control or indicator you want to assign to that terminal. Click an open space on the front panel. The terminal changes to the data type color of the control to indicate that you connected the terminal.

You also can select the control or indicator first and then select the terminal.

Note:

Although you use the Wiring tool to assign terminals on the connector pane to front panel controls and indicators, no wires are drawn between the connector pane and these controls and indicators.

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What are tags? tag icon

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