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Differences Between NI Vision Acquisition Software, NI Vision Builder, and the NI Vision Development Module

Updated Dec 20, 2023

Reported In


  • Vision Development Module
  • Vision Builder for Automated Inspection


  • Vision Acquisition Software

Issue Details

  • I am interested in the capabilities of NI Vision software but I am unsure which product I should use.
  • I have a valid license for NI Vision Software but I am unclear about the differences between NI Vision Acquisition Software (VAS), NI Vision Builder (VBAI) and NI Vision Development Module (VDM). 


Vision Acquisition Software (VAS) 

  • Description: The Vision Acquisition Software (VAS) is a set of drivers and utilities used to acquire, display, and save images from a wide range of camera types, including cameras using GigE Vision, IEEE 1394 (FireWire), USB 2.0, USB 3 Vision, or the Camera Link standard.
  • Included In: VAS is included in both VDM and VBAI
  • Components: VAS is made up of the following three drivers. See here for more information about these drivers
    • ​NI-IMAQ - acquisition from NI frame grabbers, as well as general display, file saving and acquisition functions
    • NI-IMAQdx - acquisition from GigE Vision, IEEE-1394 cameras, USB cameras that are DirectShow compliant (VAS 2009 onwards), and some IP cameras.
    • NI-IMAQ I/O - configuration of FPGA included in the PCI-8254R, PCI-8255R, Compact Vision System
  • Usage: The drivers included with NI Vision Acquisition Software (VAS) allow you to acquire, display, and save images from a wide range of cameras. However, only the NI VDM and NI VBAI software packages include built-in support for advanced image processing and analysis. Note that a license for VAS is included with all NI Frame Grabbers .

Vision Development Module (VDM) 

  • Description: Vision Development Module (VDM) provides machine vision and image processing functions for LabVIEW, C/C++, Visual Basic, and .NET environments 
  • Included In: VDM is a separately licensed module installed into LabVIEW
  • Components: VDM includes the Vision Assistant tool, a prototyping and code generation tool similar to NI Vision Builder in its menu-driven interface. Vision Assistant is a useful tool for developing and testing a series of image analysis and processing steps from which code can be generated.
  • Usage: In general, VDM functions are used for image processing and analysis. Some example uses include: pattern matching, particle analysis, edge detection, thresholding, histograms, and optical character recognition.The Vision Development Module is supported on Windows and LabVIEW Real-Time. This means you can use VDM on remote targets such as the NI CVS (Compact Vision System) or an NI Smart Camera. 

Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (VBAI) 

  • Description: The Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (VBAI) is a stand-alone, configurable machine vision development environment that requires no programming knowledge to configure.
  • Components: VBAI includes over 100 commonly used vision development tools including pattern matching, optical character recognition, and particle analysis. It also installs VAS for acquiring images from the camera.
  • Usage: VBAI can run image processing inspections on remote targets, including real-time controllers and FPGAs, and can be used to configure those environments.

See the flowchart below for a visual summary of the different NI Vision software components and uses:

Additional Information

You will need either VAS and VDM if you are working in LabVIEW, or VAS and VBAI if you would like to use a more configuration-based environment. You will also need VAS software to communicate with your camera and acquire images, and processing software (either VDM or VBAI) to process the images received.