We are frequently asked how one can output data from the NanoScan to other programs for additional analysis or publication. Depending nature of the desired end results there can be many answers to this question. In this application note we will try to explain these different solutions.
The NanoScan Pro analysis software program includes the Active X server. This allows the user to write programs and routines in a number of platforms, such as Visual Basic, LabVIEW, Excel and others, which will control the NanoScan and output data to different automation systems, spreadsheets or databases. Active X automation takes the place of the older SDK (software developers’ kit) that was available for BeamScan. The software package has a folder entitled “Automation” that is loaded onto your computer when the software is installed. You can find this folder in the Photon program file (e.g., C:\\Program Files\Photon\NanoScan\Automation). In it you will find examples of Active X routines for Excel (***.xls) and LabVIEW (***.vi), which should give you a starting place to create your own routines.
Active X is compatible with many other types of programming languages, some of which we are unfamiliar with. We apologize that we cannot provide examples for all of them, but these examples should provide enough information to understand how the routines and commands are structured. There may be subtle differences in the syntax of the different programming languages, but they should all be able to be made to work.
Display files can be output directly by simply saving a screen capture to a file using the “Print Screen” function of your PC, which places the entire screen onto the computer clip board. Using a picture editing program such as Microsoft Paint, the contents of the clip board can be pasted and saved into a file. This is the method that is used to create all the Photon Users’ Manuals and much of our other literature. It is a simple and fast method for reproducing the output of Photon instrument software.
Files can also be output as ASCII text files and then loaded into spreadsheets, such as Excel. There are some drawbacks to this approach that should be noted. Many data files are extremely large. Before using this method it is advisable to set the acquisition parameters to reduce the number of data points. Set the sampling resolution to a larger value before collecting the date for the file you wish to copy to ASCII format. Ohterwise many thousands of data points will be collected. When such a file is then output to an ASCII text file the computer may grind to a halt. Usually the PC has not “crashed” but it may seem like it due to the long time required to accomplish the command.
In addition to the above methods the software packages all have the capability to log to a file or COM port. In these cases the data will be logged as delimited text. The user can select the delimiter (tab, comma, semicolon, etc), and these files can be read by any spreadsheet program compatible with delimited text.