Rusty nails

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Rusty Nails in the LabVIEW community is a reference to a LabVIEW feature that is undocumented, incomplete, and generally features of LabVIEW that NI doesn't intend for the general audience to have access to. This expression originated from Greg McKaskle, and NI employee around the 1999 timeframe. When asked about undocumented INI settings in LabVIEW Greg had this to say:

As mentioned, most of these configuration options are available from within the Preference dialog. There are also configuration options that aren't in that list because they are needed so early in LV's launch that the resources aren't open yet; so this isn't the complete list. The options that aren't in the preferences dialog are generally considered to be not useful or even harmful. They are sometimes there to allow us a backdoor or a workaround for when we change a behavior. They are also used to turn on obscure development features that we, the LV developers, use to make or debug LV. These obscure features are typically kind of like the attic or basement of a house, not finished out, not very interesting, and potentially harmful.

We have never tried to hide any of these strings, and I don't believe you will gain any benefit from trying out various combinations of the settings. If you ask technical support what a setting is, they will likely tell you that they have no idea. They are telling you the truth. I don't even know what some of them do without checking the code. Others, such as exoticcontrols, no longer do anything. It was once used to show a control palette submenu that contained controls that were still in work and not ready for prime-time. They were experiments, unsupported features, and guaranteed to crash if you did much with them. Just the sort of thing that we need for development, but not useful to even advanced LV users unless they have a death-wish.

If you experiment with the .ini file and you crash mysteriously losing hours of work, I'd suggest putting the file back to the way LV left it. Don't ask tech support to fix it or complain that the LV attic has rusty nails and splinters.

As for whether or not Resedit is wonderful, I personally prefer Resorcerer, but that is a different story. It is a low level tool that in the right hands is useful, in the wrong hands, well, its in the wrong hands. For the person that likes taking a multimeter and a soldering iron to computers and household appliances, its exactly what you always wanted. If you start monkeying with things in the resources or the .ini file, use common sense and do it on a copy or you will just end up reinstalling LV.

Once the fun and experimentation is over with, I think you will agree that the useful options, with very few exceptions are in the Preference dialog.[1]

Back in the LabVIEW 5.x and 6.x era there was a new emerging technology that was LabVIEW Scripting. NI had created scripting for their own purposes but the community saw it and wanted to be able to automate editing, or creating LabVIEW code. With the help from Jim Kring and others, the basic tools for enabling scripting in LabVIEW were available. Discussing scripting often leads into discussing other INI keys which enable private functions like the well known SuperSecretPrivateSpecialStuff. It is possible this is one of the keys Greg was referring to.

After LAVA's creation a subforum section was labeled Rusty Nails, and intended to be a place to discuss Scripting, ExternalNodes, XNodes, Private methods, and general LabVIEW hackery. Over the years several private functions have been made public, and scripting has become an official feature shipping with LabVIEW. Because of this the Rusty Nails and XNodes subforums were combined into what is now the VI Scripting section. Even over on the official NI forums, discussions about private functionality and XNodes has been relaxed since those early days. Asking for private methods and getting unofficial help is something users, and sometimes NI employees will participate in, without the heavy censorship seen earlier. Topics of scripting are encouraged now that the feature has been official supported.

See Also


  1. Info-LabVIEW archive, Subject: Complete list of Labview Options - May 27th 1999