Physics Data Assistant

About Physics Data Assistant

Physics Data Assistant is an easy to use graphing and curve fitting application.  While originally created for use in the WKU University Physics Laboratories, you may find it useful in other fields where you have to plot data and fit to a variety of different mathematical models.

Creating a publication quality graph is performed in easy steps of loading (or editing) your data, plotting your data, fitting it to a model, and exporting it to a file or the clipboard.

This software is installed on the computers in the WKU University Physics Laboratory, but you can also easily install it on your own computer by using the download links and instructions provided below.  The program is written in LabVIEW and requires the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine to operate properly.  The Windows installer will install both Physics Data Assistant and the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine.  However, these are two separate steps on the Macintosh as described below.  If you have to reinstall an updated version of Physics Data Assistant on an Apple computer, you do not have to reinstall the run-time engine.

Platform Installation Instructions
Download

Windows

  1. Download the ZIP archive using the link to the right.
  2. Double-click the file to un-zip the archive then open the folder and run the “install.exe” file.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the installation of Physics Data Assistant and the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine.
Download Physics Data Assistant for Windows
Version 1.1.2

Apple Macintosh

  1. Download the disk image using the link to the right.
  2. Open the disk image and drag the Physics Data Assistant icon to your Applications folder.
  3. Download the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine using the Powered By LabVIEW link to the right and install the run-time engine using the package installer on the disk image.  You only have to do this the first time you install Physics Data Assistant.

If you run into any issues during installation of either the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine or with Physics Data Assistant on the Macintosh please check out the Frequently Asked Questions section below.

Download Physics Data Assistant for Macintosh
Version 1.1.1


Download the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine

Known Bugs

  • Annotation Moves Lost – Manual changes to the position of an annotation made by dragging the annotation are lost when any changes to the graph are made.  Suggested workaround is to make creating annotations the last step in your workflow of creating a graph before exporting it.
  • Hidden Free Annotations – Free annotations are presently created on your graph at the origin.  If the origin isn’t visible on your graph then neither will be the free annotation.  Suggested workaround is to use a single-plot annotation instead.  Future versions will allow the position of the annotation to be edited.

Version History

Version Date Description
1.1.2 September 13, 2020 Updated the codebase to LabVIEW 2020.  Added ability to perform exponential, power law, and gaussian function fits.  Also, added a special fit function for the Power Transfer experiment in the University Physics II Laboratory.
1.1.1 February 6, 2020 Corrected a bug in the fit editor that occurred when an existing fit was selected for editing. Disabled several right-click shortcut options on the main graph control in order to not conflict with the built-in annotations and graph properties editor.
1.1.0 January 23, 2020 Cleaned up some typos on the information tab. This is the version that will be installed on WKU Physics and Astronomy computers for the Spring 2020 semester.
1.0.9 January 23, 2020 Finished the Application Information tab which provides easy access to basic help for using the program. Added buttons New File, Open File, and Save File to the Edit Data tab for easier access to these functions instead of having to use the File menu.
1.0.8 January 21, 2020 Made improvements to the annotation feature including allowing Free (or Floating) annotations, specifying which point the annotation will attach to, and allowing user to choose whether or not an arrow is drawn from the annotation to a point. Trapped the error that occurred when a non-linear fit didn’t converge because of bad guesses and warned the user to improve the guesses and try again. Corrected an issue that was occurring on startup and shutdown on the Mac platform when the program was trying to access the Support directory inside the application to set and retrieve the screen coordinates of the app window.
1.0.7 January 20, 2020 Added the ability to annotate graphs.
1.0.6 January 12, 2020

Added code to maximize the window on the first run of the program and then to save the screen location between runs so that subsequent runs will start in the same screen location and size as when the program was last quit.

Made some additional adjustments to make sure that the program would play nicely with window sizes as small as 1280 x 800 on both Windows and Mac platforms. Did some cleaning up of font size differences on Mac and Windows platforms. Added the ability to show or hide the plot legend in the upper right corner of the graph. Implemented an improved scheme to send messages from the user interface to the sub panels. Added an error handler system to inform the user of any errors.

1.0.5 January 12, 2020 Made the plot engine use the same color for plots, guesses, and fits that correspond to a particular dependent variable. Corrected some issues with editor panes showing incorrect information at certain circumstances. Added the ability to save data to a tab-delimited text file. If the file was originally loaded as a CSV file it will continue to save in that format. Modified the fitting engine to automatically show cursors on a graph if the user selects the option to Fit the Data Between the Cursors.
1.0.4 January 11, 2020 Improved to logo on the About screen and the program icon.
1.0.3 January 11, 2020 Finished the code for performing Sinusoidal and Underdamped Oscillator model fits. Disabled the ability to select the other types of fits that are not completed yet. These include Power Law, Exponential, Gaussian, and Custom.
1.0.2 January 9, 2020 Finished the code for computing the guesses for all the different fit types except a Custom fit. Corrected an error where the slope and intercept were interchanged in the display equation for a linear fit. Created the first MacOS application.
1.0.1 January 8, 2020 Reduced the minimum screen size of the application to attempt to accommodate monitor resolutions with as small as 800 vertical pixels. Added this About dialog to keep track of version history. Added the ability to copy the fit results to the system clipboard. Corrected a bug where the graph wasn’t cleared when a new data file was loaded.
1.0.0 January 7, 2020 Initial release for testing during development.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I encounter a BAD_OS_TITLE_WARN message during installation of the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine on Macintosh?
BAD_OS_TITLE_WARN

Physics Data Assistant is presently developed (as of January 2020) in LabVIEW 2019 SP1.  This version of LabVIEW has a run-time engine that has been certified and tested by National Instruments in Mac OS 10.13 (High Sierra) and 10.14 (Mojave), but we have found it to work well from Yosemite to Catalina.

We have noticed that in Mac OS 10.15 (Catalina) that this warning message may appear during installation.  However, you can safely ignore the message and continue with the installation.  After pressing OK, the installation of the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine should continue with no issue.

2. What if I encounter the message 'Physics Data Assistant' cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified the first time I run the application on Macintosh?

Depending on your settings, this is very likely to happen the first time you attempt to run Physics Data Assistant on the Macintosh.  Apple very aggressively warns about using software that is has not reviewed.

To get past this warning there are two possible approaches.

First, you can right-click on the program in the Applications folder and select Open from the pop-up menu that results.  Then, the resulting dialog box you will receive will contain an extra button that will allow you to Open the software anyway.

Another approach, is to go to the Security & Privacy section of the System Preferences.  On the General tab you will notice that there is the Open Anyway the “Physics Data Assistant” program.