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Get Started with VISA

What Is VISA?

Virtual Instrument Standard Architecture (VISA) is a standard defined by Keysight® (formerly Agilent Technologies®) and National Instruments™ for communicating with instruments regardless of the interface. The VISA standard was formerly maintained by the VXIplug&play Systems Alliance and is now maintained by the IVI Foundation.

Instrument Control Toolbox™ supports the TCP/IP (using VXI11 and HiSLIP), TCP/IP Socket, USB, GPIB, Serial, VXI, and PXI interfaces using the VISA standard. Communication is established through a VISA instrument object, which you create in the MATLAB® workspace. For example, a VISA-GPIB object allows you to use the VISA standard to communicate with an instrument that possesses a GPIB interface.

For the full VISA specifications maintained by the IVI Foundation, see IVI Specifications.

Supported Platforms and Minimum Driver Requirements

VISA is supported on these platforms:

  • macOS (NI-VISA and R&S VISA only)

  • Windows® 10

These are the minimum VISA driver versions you must have:

  • Keysight IO Libraries version 18.1.24715.0 (Keysight Connection Expert 2019)

  • National Instruments NI-VISA version 19.5

  • Rohde & Schwarz R&S VISA version 5.12

Tektronix® TekVISA is not supported for the visadev interface.


VISA is not supported on Mac computers with Apple silicon.

Interfaces Used with VISA

For many VISA applications, you can communicate with your instrument without detailed knowledge of how the interface works.

Connect to and Configure VISA Resource

See a list of VISA resources available to connect to using visadevlist. This function provides a list of resource names and aliases. You can also find a device's resource name or alias from your VISA vendor's control software. For more information about the VISA resource name, see ResourceName.

To connect to a VISA resource, specify its resource name or alias using visadev.

After you connect to your instrument or device, you can configure its properties. For a full list of visadev properties and information about how to configure them, see visadev Properties.

Other Functionality

Use the following functions to communicate with the visadev object.

readRead data from VISA resource
readlineRead line of ASCII string data from VISA resource
readbinblockRead one binblock of data from VISA resource
writeWrite data to VISA resource
writelineWrite line of ASCII data to VISA resource
writebinblockWrite one binblock of data to VISA resource
writereadWrite command to VISA resource and read response
configureTerminatorSet terminator for ASCII string communication with VISA resource
flushClear buffers for communication with VISA resource
visastatusCheck status of VISA resource
visatriggerSend trigger to GPIB or VXI instruments
setDTRSet serial DTR pin
setRTSSet serial RTS pin
getpinstatusGet serial pin status

See Also


Related Topics

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