Virtual Instrument Software Architecture

Virtual Instrument Software Architecture

Virtual Instrument Software Architecture, commonly known as VISA, is a widely used I/O API in the Test & Measurement industry for communicating with instruments from a PC. VISA is an industry standard implemented by several T&M (Test & Measurement) companies, such as Agilent Technologies and National Instruments.

The VISA standard includes specifications for communication with resources (usually, but not always, instruments) over T&M(Test and Measurement)-specific I/O interfaces such as GPIB and VXI. There are also some specifications for T&M-specific protocols over PC-standard I/O, such as VXI-11 (over TCP/IP ) and USBTMC (over USB).

The VISA library has standardized the presentation of its operations over several software reuse mechanisms, including through a C API exposed from Windows DLL, visa32.dll and over the Microsoft COM technology. Although there are several VISA vendors and implementations, applications written against VISA are (nominally) vendor-interchangeable thanks to the standardization of VISA's presentation and operations/capabilities. Implementations from specific vendors are also available for less common programming languages and software reuse technologies.


VISA was originally standardized through the VXI plug&play Alliance, a now-defunct T&M standards body. The current standard, "VISA Specification 3.0", is maintained by the [ IVI Foundation.]


* [ VISA specifications] from IVI Foundation. (MS Word or PDF format)

See also

* Interchangeable Virtual Instruments (IVI)

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