Well, learning LabVIEW has been on my gotta-do list for some time now, but I've been putting off the evil day by doing all my cute-GUI test-automation stuff in Ruby instead. I understand Ruby. It doesn't have a weird draw-a-picture-and-guess-what-it-means interface.
However... just started negotiating a likely Deal that (a) could develop into a long-term arrangement, and (b) pretty much requires using LabVIEW, in order to fit in with the client's existing automation.
So, something to learn during the rainy season, and I can probably use an evaluation copy for the purpose.
So, what's LabVIEW cost for real?
Yipe! $1K for the base version, which is Windows-only (the client is Windows-only, but I don't keep much in the way of Windows around here). For the full version that can run on Linux... starts at $2700. And for the development environment that'll compile your application to a .exe for distribution? Neighborhood of $5K. Or so.
Oh, and if you actually want to do useful stuff, like communicate with other applications? $$$KA-CHING$$$
Ruby, meanwhile, costs $0 for the development license and $0 for the runtime license, and is nicely cross-platform. And I can tell what it's going to do, 'cause I'm writing real code in a real language.
Oh, well: if I gotta have a LabVIEW development environment, I gotta price it into the business somehow. (Or, conventionally, come up with the business capital to buy the software up front, and trust that it'll help bring in enough additional business to cover the bill.)
Relatedly, I was thumbing through a catalog a few weeks back and happened across the pricing for µC/OS (which I assume is pronounced "mucus"). I'd had a vague notion it was pricey, given that the company was handing out free copies of the big heavy printed-on-paper manuals at a trade show not so long ago, but... really? Looks like the pricing strategy is "figure what it would cost to have Gumby develop it from scratch at his full consulting rate, and charge half that much for a single-product license."