Monday, October 31, 2011

Agilent Releases "Command Expert" Software

Agilent recently released a free software package called "Command Expert." If you write software that controls test and measurement instruments Command Expert will make your life easier. For non-software writers that need to create remote instrument control sequences this will also make your life easier. One of the best things about Command Expert is it's free. The below bullets outline Command Expert's top four headlines.
  • Enables fast prototyping and development of instrument command sequences
  • Provides seamless integration with Excel, LabVIEW, Visual Studio, VEE and SystemVue
  • Makes it easy to find, use, and view full documentation for SCPI and IVI-COM commands
  • Simplifies the process of retrieving measurement data from instruments
Command Expert allows you to easily build instrument routines or sequences using SCPI and IVI commands. You can then test the sequences and read back measurement data right into the Command Expert interface. Once you have your finished sequence you can save it to run again later or you can export it to your current instrument control programming project. Command Expert will wrap the sequence up into a function that can be directly exported into your programming project (it generates the code for you). Supported development environments  include Visual Studio, VEE, LabView, Excel, and System Vue. You start out by adding your connected instruments to the instrument pane. From there you can select instruments to access their SCPI or IVI documentation. The documentation UI on Command Expert makes it really easy to search, find, and get info on the selected instruments command set. Once you begin adding a command to your sequence, Command Expert has command auto complete capabilities to make it easy. It also can quickly guide you through adding parameters to commands. Below is a screen shot of Command Expert's UI. It shows a user that adding a command to their sequence for a scope that they named "InfiniiVision" (click to enlarge).

You can also insert wait statements into sequences. Once your sequence is built you can test and fine tune it using Command Expert. When you are done you can save your sequence or export it to a programming environment. 

One of my favorite features on Command Expert is how it integrates with Excel. It automatically plugs into Excel allowing you to create stand alone Excel sequences. This an awesome feature for non-programmers or for programmers who just want to setup a test routine quickly. Once you create a sequence using Command Expert you can export it to an Excel spreadsheet where that sequence can run on its own with no coding required (Command Expert must be installed on the PC). On an Excel based sequence you can setup cells on the spreadsheet as input parameters for defining instrument ranges or settings and you can use plotting features for displaying measured data. Below is an example using a scope:

Once again Command Expert is totally free so I encourage you to check it out if you are instrument programmer or if you are looking for a away run instrument routines without buying expensive software packages.


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