Frequently Asked Questions


Nimbus Driver Studio is a complete set of development tools for building fully compliant, commercial-quality IVI.NET, IVI-COM, IVI-C, and MATLABĀ® instrument drivers. The Nimbus suite includes code generation tools, auto-documenting facilities, driver testing utilities, and a host of other productivity tools. Nimbus fully integrates with Visual Studio to provide end-to-end tool support during driver implementation, with features such as automatic code round-tripping and fully customizable, full fidelity HTML-based help editor.

Nimbus provides rich support for building IVI.NET, IVI-COM and IVI-C drivers. Moreover, Nimbus can be used to generate either class-compliant or custom IVI drivers. Nimbus includes pre-built code for implementing many of the IVI-required interfaces.

Nimbus supports all currently approved IVI instrument driver classes.

Nimbus is available for download for a 30-day evaluation period. The download is the fully-functional product version. Should you choose to purchase Nimbus, you need not download anything further - you need only supply the serial number provided to you at the time of purchase.

Yes. Pacific MindWorks offers an onsite IVI Jumpstart Training Course with 1-day, 3-day, and 5-day curriculums. For more information, click here.

Absolutely not. One of the principal benefits Nimbus provides is that developers are shielded from having to know the details of .NET, C++, COM, or the IVI specifications themselves. Indeed, folks turn to Nimbus specifically because they are not experts in any of these technologies, yet they need the ability to build fully compliant IVI drivers. Users coming from a background in C programming or VXI Plug-n-Play driver development will find themselves very comfortable using Nimbus to build IVI.NET, IVI-COM and IVI-C drivers.

Nimbus is unique in a wide variety of ways. For instance, Nimbus is the only product that generates IVI.NET, IVI-COM and IVI-C drivers. Nimbus also produces the most complete driver "package" - including all prominent help file formats (MS Help Viewer, HTML 2.0 and HTML 1.X), a fully IVI-compliant installer, ready-to-use client programs, and even C# unit tests that integrate directly with Visual Studio 's built-in unit testing framework. Automatic code round-tripping is a feature only found in our Nimbus product and it pays huge dividends in time savings when driver designs evolve over the course of a driver project or new features need to be added after implementation.

For a direct comparison of Nimbus to other driver tools, see the Nimbus LabWindows™/CVI Comparison Chart.

Code-roundtripping is a feature unique to Nimbus that allows developers to make changes to their driver design after generating the driver implementation code. Nimbus integrates Code Wizards into the Visual Studio Environment so that developers have the same editing capabilities during implementation as they have during the design phase. The Nimbus Code Wizards provide intuitive dialogs for doing something as simple as adding a method, to something as complicated as completely rearranging the driver hierarchy. All of the .NET and/or C++ code manipulation to effect the desired changes is performed by Nimbus.

There are no additional runtime requirements for drivers built with Nimbus beyond those requirements imposed by the IVI Foundation, such as the presence of the IVI Shared Components. Unlike drivers built with every other toolkit, Nimbus-developed drivers do not rely upon any separate "engine" components or wrappers.

Yes. In fact, Pacific MindWorks was hired by the LXI Consortium to develop the LXI specification. When you run the IVI Driver Wizard in Nimbus, you can simply check a box to include support for LXI and all of the required interfaces for the specific LXI compliance level are automatically added.

Yes. In fact, all of these features can be incorporated into the driver without requiring any user-written code. For example, the Nimbus user interface provides an intuitive way to establish state cache couplings to represent real couplings between instrument settings.

Nimbus provides a simple, intuitive editor that allows independent control of the simulation behavior of each driver property. Nimbus ensures that no I/O communication is performed when the driver is running in simulation mode. Nimbus also generates code that stores the last value sent to the instrument so that it can return the same value when the user queries the property, thereby more accurately emulating a real instrument.

No. Unlike other driver-development tools, Nimbus-generated drivers do not rely upon any "engine" component or other runtime DLL for features such as state-caching and range-checking. Each driver has "baked" into it all of the standalone capabilities that the driver developer specified.

Yes. Pacific MindWorks has used Nimbus to build drivers for various register-based instruments. With Nimbus, you are free to provide as much custom low-level logic in your implementation as you need. All of the unit testing, help generation, and installer generation features work just as well for register-based instruments as they do for message-based instruments. Features such as simulation, range checking and state caching also work in precisely the same way for register-based instruments as they do for message-based instruments.

Yes, you will need to purchase a licensed copy of Nimbus for each developer working with the product. However, recognizing that developers often need to work at home and on a notebook computer, a Pacific MindWorks can provide an additional serial number at no charge that enables you to install the product on an additional computer.

No. A single Nimbus license can be used to develop and ship any number of drivers. There are no runtime or distribution fees associated with the drivers you develop with Nimbus.

No. The drivers you develop with Nimbus are your own to distribute as you wish. Any number of drivers may be shipped to your customers with no distribution fees.

A subscription to a Pacific MindWorks' product entitles you to updates and technical support for the duration of the subscription. Nimbus is an ever-evolving product, as it aggressively tracks the IVI and LXI standards as well as the latest Microsoft technologies, such as new versions of Visual Studio.

The initial purchase price of Nimbus includes a one-year subscription to the product. Subscriptions for subsequent years can be purchased at any time.

Pacific MindWorks' products are obtained through purchase order. After receipt of a purchase order, you will receive a registration code that will allow you to unlock the software.

Our team has experience with a wide variety of instrumentation -- from simple digital multi-meters to complex network analyzers. We can build drivers for digital instrumentation, like switches and digital word generators, as well as drivers for RF instrumentation, like spectrum analyzers.

All of our driver development contracts are performed on a fixed-price basis.

The time it takes to deliver an IVI driver depends upon a number of factors, such as:

  • The size and complexity of the instrument
  • Whether the instrument is register-based or message-based
  • The types of drivers required (i.e. IVI.NET, IVI-COM and/or IVI-C)
  • Whether an IVI class-compliant interface is to be supported

Not surprisingly, the total time it takes to develop, document, and validate an IVI driver varies widely. Nevertheless, our experience shows that a complete driver package for a medium size instrument can be delivered in 6 to 8 weeks.

Yes. Pacific MindWorks routinely builds IVI.NET, IVI-COM, IVI-C, and LabVIEW drivers. We have years of experience building all types of drivers for some of the biggest names in the test and measurement industry.

Much debate has raged over this exact issue for a long time. Our experience has shown (and many of our customers now agree) that you likely need both. Why is that?

Some customers make the mistake of basing their driver technology decision on the expertise they have in-house. However, this is not the right criterion on which to base an IVI driver strategy. Rather, the deciding factor must be the predominant end-user development IDE.

Microsoft IDEs are the most dominant in test and measurement and becoming increasingly so. Unquestionably, IVI.NET IVI-COM drivers provide the best experience in Microsoft environments, including Visual Basic, Visual C++, C#, and others. Some may find it surprising that IVI-COM and IVI.NET drivers even provide a better end-user experience in LabVIEW than IVI-C drivers. Crucially, the integration of IVI-C drivers with .NET in particular is much more tedious than with either IVI-COM or IVI.NET. Thus, a pure IVI-C solution is not an optimal choice.

However, if many of your end users rely upon C-based environments such as LabWindows™/CVI, then they may want to have an IVI-C driver.

The best answer truly is that you need more than one to satisfy the full range of development environments your customers may be using. Pacific MindWorks would recommend a combination of an IVI.NET and an IVI-C driver. Alternatively, a combination of an IVI-COM and an IVI-C driver is a reasonable choice.

You do. All driver development work is "work for hire" and as such, the customer retains all rights to the driver source code.

Yes. Pacific MindWorks has extensive experience building drivers for both message-based and register-based instruments.

Yes. Every driver is delivered with a 1-year warranty against bugs - at no additional charge. On-going maintenance, including the addition new capabilities, is available as an option. Thus, customers can choose to maintain the driver themselves or they can free themselves from driver development duties altogether and have us maintain it for them.

Formal quotations for drivers are typically generated from an instrument programming manual. In the absence of this, quotations can often be generated from a list of instrument commands. Information should also be provided on the optional features desired, such as an IVI-C driver, a LabVIEW driver, example end-user applications, etc.

No. The IVI Jumpstart Training Course is currently offered only at the customer site.

Course attendees should have some experience in structured programming, such as .NET, C, C++, or Visual Basic. They should also be familiar with basic instrumentation and driver fundamentals.

A flat tuition covers up to 5 attendees. Each attendee beyond 5 can be accommodated at an additional cost.

The only required equipment is a computer projector capable of displaying at least 1024x768 resolution. Since the course does not include instructor-led lab exercises, the course attendees do not need any computer equipment or instrumentation.

In the 4 and 5 day versions of the course, where the instructor assists in the development of a real instrument driver, then the customer must provide all required instrumentation, software, and interfacing hardware. The instructor will be equipped with a standard Windows notebook computer.

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