December 5, 2005

Your name in lights ... sort of

A while back our marketing manager notified us of a blurb on relating to the awesomeness of the LabVIEW Simulation Module 2.0. I wanted to write something about it but got caught up in other activities (such as making sure products shipped on time :-)) I like this blurb in particular: "engineers can use the LabVIEW Simulation Module 2.0 to optimize dynamic system parameters for other design objectives such as stability or vibration reduction."

The reason why I like this blurb is pretty simple: I documented that feature from start to finish, including a new chapter in the user manual and two VIs with rather large connector panes. The information came across rather late in the development cycle (as information is sometimes wont to do), so I ended up adding the majority of content during NI Week in August. It was one of those features that I literally knew nothing about, so the developer was kind enough to write a giant Word document for me, which I then squeezed and squished into a comprehensive discussion of optimizing design parameters. I thought the end result came out rather well, and another developer agreed with me when he told me he had no idea what the feature was about until he read my user manual chapter.

Another major feature was the addition of "programmatic" linearization and trimming (programmatic referring to the fact that you drop VIs on the block diagram to accomplish this task instead of using only dialog boxes). Thus the blurb: "Engineers now can linearize complex, nonlinear systems modeled in control block-diagram form and use the intuitive LabVIEW graphical development environment for the entire development process for both simple and complex systems." This feature occupied my life for a period of several months, as I added new content to the user manual and documented the ever-changing VIs. The result is pretty useful and walks users through exactly how to use the Trim & Linearize VIs to linearize and/or trim a system model.

Another reason I like this blurb is because I not only wrote the help for these features, but also served as some QA during development. If a procedure was unintuitive or complicated, I tried my best to ask why it was that way in hopes of fixing it. I also was responsible for making sure the VI parameters were capitalized properly, that the icons were descriptive (we have an in-house graphic designer to help with that task), that dialog box buttons flow nicely and are informative, and so forth. The end result is something I can be proud of, and it's nice to see all the work I put in displayed like this.


  1. Doing work you can be proud of is the best gift you can give yourself. And the best reward, I think, for a job well done is pride in your work. Of course, it's nice to have others recognize your quality of work, even if it is in an indirect way. :) Good job!

  2. My company has many prestigious clients: McDonald's, Burger King, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's, Pizza Hut, A&W), Brinker (Chili's, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, etc.), Church's, Cracker Barrel, Brahm's, and others. I haved worked directly or indirectly with each of these clients. When my children want to go to McDonald's, we MUST go into the building instead of the drive-through so that I can see our fryers in action. I don't even eat there, but I love to watch people using our products. Of course, I should point out that not everyone uses them correctly, in which case I can't help but get annoyed and think "I remember putting that in the manual: in bold, underlined, italicized, in CAPs... ;-) An overdramatization, but you know exactly what I mean, I'm sure.