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HelioScan is a free and flexible control software for microscopes written in the intuitive graphical programming language LabVIEW.

It solves a number of problems observed with custom-built image acquisition systems by providing the following features:

Extendability: both hardware components and software functionality are encapsulated in exchangeable, software components. Additional components can be implemented easily and plugged in at run-time. Components can be independently developed, allowing multiple developers to work in parallel.

Flexibility: Components are independently configurable; each component can have an unlimited number of configurations.

Understandability: The LabVIEW code is well-structured, commented and documented.

High speed: The software supports FPGA-based hardware that enables intelligent and extremely fast signal acquisition and generation. FPGA logic can be easily programmed using LabVIEW. Tailored to in vivo brain imaging: The software is especially suited for two-photon calcium imaging and intrinsic optical imaging, but can in principle be used for any kind of microscopy. The out-of-the-box software supports different imaging modalities (camera, galvanometric scan mirrors, acusto-optic deflectors) and imaging modes (camera video acquisition, intrinsic optical imaging, two-photon frame scan and tilted frame scan, 2D line scan, 3D spiral scan) and can easily be extended to other imaging modalities (e.g., resonance scanners), imaging modes (e.g., 2D and 3D arbitrary line scans) and associated hardware (e.g., stimulation devices).

Open file-format with extensible meta-data schema: HelioScan saves data in multipage TIFF file format, and meta-data as human-readable XML in the TIFF description tag.