PyVISA implements convenient and Pythonic programming in three layers:
Low-level: A wrapper around the shared visa library.
The wrapper defines the argument types and response types of each function, as well as the conversions between Python objects and foreign types.
You will normally not need to access these functions directly. If you do, it probably means that we need to improve layer 2.
All level 1 functions are static methods of VisaLibrary.
Notice however that low-level functions might not be present in all backends. For broader compatibility, do no use this layer. All the functionality should is available via the next layer.
Middle-level: A wrapping Python function for each function of the shared visa library.
These functions call the low-level functions, adding some code to deal with type conversions for functions that return values by reference. These functions also have comprehensive and Python friendly documentation.
You only need to access this layer if you want to control certain specific aspects of the VISA library which are not implemented by the corresponding resource class.
All level 2 functions are bound methods of VisaLibrary.
High-level: An object-oriented layer for ResourceManager and Resource
The ResourceManager implements methods to inspect connected resources. You also use this object to open other resources instantiating the appropriate Resource derived classes.
Resource and the derived classes implement functions and attributes access to the underlying resources in a Pythonic way.
Most of the time you will only need to instantiate a ResourceManager. For a given resource, you will use the open_resource method to obtain the appropriate object. If needed, you will be able to access the VisaLibrary object directly using the visalib attribute.
The VisaLibrary does the low-level calls. In the default NI Backend, levels 1 and 2 are implemented in the same package called ctwrapper (which stands for ctypes wrapper). This package is included in PyVISA
But other backends can be used just by passing the name of the backend to ResourceManager after the @ symbol. See more information in A frontend for multiple backends.
Calling middle- and low-level functions¶
After you have instantiated the ResourceManager:
>>> import visa >>> rm = visa.ResourceManager()
you can access corresponding the VisaLibrary instance under the visalib attribute.
You can recognize low an middle-level functions by their names. Low-level functions carry the same name as in the shared library, and they are prefixed by vi. Middle-level functions have a friendlier, more pythonic but still recognizable name.
The VisaLibrary object exposes as bound methods the middle-level functions which are one-to-one mapped from the foreing library.
Tipically, cameCase names where stripped from the leading bi and changed to underscore separated lower case names. For example the VISA function viMapAddress appears in the middle-level layer as map_address. The docs about these methods is here API.
You can also access the low-level functions as directly exposed as static methods, for example:
>>> rm.visalib.viMapAddress(<here goes the arguments>)
To call this functions you need to know the function declaration and how to interface it to python. To help you out, the VisaLibrary object also contains middle-level functions. Each middle-level function wraps one low-level function. In this case:
>>> rm.visalib.map_address(<here goes the arguments>)
The calling convention and types are handled by the wrapper.