LabVIEW, or Laboratory Virtual Instrument Engineering Workbench, is a system design platform and development environment for graphical language programming. It is a visual programming language from National Instruments (NI). LabVIEW programs or virtual instruments (VIs) have front panels and block diagrams. The front panel is the user interface (UI), and the block diagram contains the graphical source code, which is the programming behind the UI.
After building the front panel, the code is added to the block diagram using graphical representations of functions to control front-panel objects. The code on the block diagram is graphical code, also known as G code or block diagram code. The front panel is built using controls (inputs) and indicators (outputs). Controls supply information to the VI, and indicators indicate or display the results based on the inputs given to the VI.
LabVIEW is commonly used for data acquistion, instrument control and industrial automation on different operating systems. Graphical programming helps build programs just by dragging and dropping virtual representations of lab equipment. LabVIEW programming environment makes it easy to create small applications. For a complex code, it is important to have extensive knowledge of the special LabVIEW syntax and topology of its memory management.
MATLAB, or MATrix LABoratory, is a multi-paradigm numerical computing environment developed by Mathworks. It allows matrix manipulators, plotting of functions and data, implementations of algorithms, creation of UIs and interfacing with text-based programs written in various languages such as C, C++, Java and Python.
MATLAB supports developing applications with GUIDE, or graphical user interface (GUI) development environment, for graphically designing GUIs. It has additional toolboxes like MuPAD symbolic engine, which allows access to symbolic computing abilities. It also has tightly integrated graph-plotting features.
Both platforms are widely used and help engineers and scientists around the world in various stages of design, simulation, modelling, prototype testing or deployment of new technologies. However, these have some differences as listed below:
1. Developers of LabVIEW are NI, whereas developers of MATLAB are Mathworks.
2. LabVIEW is mainly a graphical programming language for visualisation and parameter tuning for remote operation; MATLAB is a computing language for control algorithm development and simulation.
3. LabVIEW supports Windows, Linux, macOS and cross-platform, while MATLAB supports Windows, Linux and macOS.
4. MATLAB mainly provides mathematical/numerical computing environment, whereas LabVIEW is a system design platform that allows data acquisition, test automation, instrument control and embedded system design.
5. MATLAB is used for simulations because of additional libraries that contain higher-level functions. LabVIEW is used where a functional and intuitive GUI or interaction with hardware is required.
6. File extension for LabVIEW is .vi, and for MATLAB it is .m 7. The latest LabVIEW versions available are LabVIEW 2017 SP1 and LabVIEW NXG 2.0, released in January 2018. MATLAB’s latest version available is matlabR2018a, released on March 15, 2018.