Our Quantum Transport (QT) group in Delft has almost completely switched to QTLab, a python-based environment for taking data. QTLab is developed by our own Reinier Heeres and Pieter de Groot, during their PhD in QT. It is easy to use and it is very flexible, and reliable. It is straightforward to implement complicated scans, e.g. sweeping several DACs simultaneously at different rates while stepping a magnet.
QTLab allows users to write simple scripts that execute parameter scans on various instruments and interrogate data taking devices. A batch of scripts can be set up such that the computer takes one scan after another. In fact, we always set up a sequence for the night and come in the morning with a cup of coffee to see a collection of fresh scans.
The program is powerful and comes with drivers for many of the instruments common in our field – voltmeters, lockins, magnet supplies, microwave sources etc. Drivers for new instruments are easy to write and are constantly added to the database. All instruments that you want QTLab to control should be loaded into QTLab. Then it generates a set of commands to talk to each instrument. It also logs all the instrument settings for each scan.
QTLab also has a graphic user interface (GUI) which can plot the data live and helps keep track of the instrument settings. I strongly recommend QTLab as a powerful replacement for less flexible commercial systems.