About alternatives to Matlab

sturlamolden sturlamolden at yahoo.no
Sun Nov 26 02:29:22 CET 2006

Phil Schmidt wrote:

> Thanks for that list. I'm currently in the process of getting quotes
> for a bunch of Matlab tools for hardware-in-the-loop simulation. Big
> bucks.

Yup, and better spent elsewhere...

> I'd love to use Python, but I'm not comfortable with the hardware side
> of that. I'm certain that most, if not all data acquisition hardware
> comes with DLL drivers, which I could interface with using ctypes. I'm
> concerned though about spending more time messing around with the
> hardware interface than it's worth.

Usually you have to mess equally much with Matlab, writing CMEX
interfaces between the DLLs and Matlab. And afterwards you get the
headache of Matlab's single-threaded environment and horrible
pass-by-value sematics.

> Do you have any experience with this side of the Matlab replacement
> question? How about anyone else? Any recommendations?

If you are afraid of doing some C coding or using ctypes, I'd say go
for LabView. When it comes to data acquisition, LabView is far superior
to Matlab. And data acquisition hardware usually comes with LabView
drivers ready to run. LabView can also compile programs that you can
run on real-time OS'es and common DSP chips, so you will not need to
port your code to these targets if you need hard real-time constraints
in your system.

First find out what drivers or APIs are supplied with the hardware.
Then do the decision of which language to use - including Python,
Matlab, LabView, Java, C# .NET, C or C++. I would in any case get a
quote for LabView as well, i does not cost you anything just to obtain
the quote. Generally, development time is far more expensive than
licenses, even with the ultra-expensive Matlab and LabView software.
Using Python just for the sake of using Python is silly.

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