Basic tool

In this chapter, you will learn about the common command tools of ROS2.

1 Topics

ROS 2 breaks complex systems down into many modular nodes. Topics are a vital element of the ROS graph that act as a bus for nodes to exchange messages. Topics are one of the main ways in which data is moved between nodes and therefore between different parts of the system.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

  • topics help
ros2 topics -h
  • Start turtlesim and keyboard control
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key
  • Node Relationship Diagram
  • Learn about topic-related commands
ros2 topics -h
  • topics list
ros2 topic list
ros2 topic list -t # Display the corresponding message type
  • View topic content
ros2 topic echo <topic_name>
ros2 topic echo /turtle1/cmd_vel
  • Display topic-related information, type
ros2 topic info <topic_name>
# Output /turtle1/cmd_vel topic related information
ros2 topic info /turtle1/cmd_vel
  • Display interface related information
ros2 interface show <msg_type>
# Output geometry_msgs/msg/Twist interface related information
ros2 interface show geometry_msgs/msg/Twist
  • Issue an order
ros2 topic pub <topic_name> <msg_type> '<args>' 
# Issue speed command
ros2 topic pub --once /turtle1/cmd_vel geometry_msgs/msg/Twist "{linear: {x: 2.0, y: 0.0, z: 0.0}, angular: {x: 0.0, y: 0.0, z: 1.8}}"
# Issue speed commands at a certain frequency
ros2 topic pub --rate 1 /turtle1/cmd_vel geometry_msgs/msg/Twist "{linear: {x: 2.0, y: 0.0, z: 0.0}, angular: {x: 0.0, y: 0.0, z: 1.8}}"
  • See how often topics are posted
ros2 topic hz <topic_name>
# Output /turtle1/cmd_vel publish frequency
ros2 topic pub --rate 1 /turtle1/cmd_vel geometry_msgs/msg/Twist "{linear: {x: 2.0, y: 0.0, z: 0.0}, angular: {x: 0.0, y: 0.0, z: 1.8}}"

2 Nodes

Each node in ROS should be responsible for a single, module purpose (e.g. one node for controlling wheel motors, one node for controlling a laser range-finder, etc). Each node can send and receive data to other nodes via topics, services, actions, or parameters. A full robotic system is comprised of many nodes working in concert. In ROS 2, a single executable (C++ program, Python program, etc.) can contain one or more nodes.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

  • nodes help
ros2 nodes -h
  • Start turtlesim and keyboard control
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key
  • View the node list
ros2 node list
  • View Node Relationship Diagram
  • Remapping
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node --ros-args --remap __node:=my_turtle
ros2 node list
  • View node information
ros2 node info <node_name>
ros2 node info /my_turtle

3 Services

Services are another method of communication for nodes in the ROS graph. Services are based on a call-and-response model, versus topics’ publisher-subscriber model. While topics allow nodes to subscribe to data streams and get continual updates, services only provide data when they are specifically called by a client.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

  • services help
ros2 service -h
  • Start turtlesim and keyboard control
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key
  • View the service list
ros2 service list
# Display service list and message type
ros2 service list -t
  • View the message types received by the service
ros2 service type <service_name>
ros2 service type /clear
  • Find services that use a certain message type
ros2 service find <type_name>
ros2 service find std_srvs/srv/Empty
  • View Service Message Type Definitions
ros2 interface show <type_name>.srv
ros2 interface show std_srvs/srv/Empty.srv
  • Call the service command to clear the walking track
ros2 service call <service_name> <service_type>
ros2 service call /clear std_srvs/srv/Empty
  • Spawn a new turtle
ros2 service call /spawn turtlesim/srv/Spawn "{x: 2, y: 2, theta: 0.2, name: 'turtle2'}"

4 Parameters

A parameter is a configuration value of a node. You can think of parameters as node settings. A node can store parameters as integers, floats, booleans, strings, and lists. In ROS 2, each node maintains its own parameters. For more background on parameters, please see the concept document.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

  • parameters help
ros2 param -h
  • Start turtlesim and keyboard control
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key
  • View service list
ros2 param list
  • Get the parameter value
ros2 param get <node_name> <parameter_name>
ros2 param get /turtlesim background_g
  • Set parameter values
ros2 param set <node_name> <parameter_name> <value>
ros2 param set /turtlesim background_r 150
  • Export parameter values
ros2 param dump <node_name>
ros2 param dump /turtlesim
  • Import parameters independently
ros2 param load <node_name> <parameter_file>
ros2 param load /turtlesim ./turtlesim.yaml
  • Start the node and import parameters at the same time
ros2 run <package_name> <executable_name> --ros-args --params-file <file_name>
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node --ros-args --params-file ./turtlesim.yaml

5 Actions

Actions are one of the communication types in ROS 2 and are intended for long running tasks. They consist of three parts: a goal, feedback, and a result.

Actions are built on topics and services. Their functionality is similar to services, except actions are preemptable (you can cancel them while executing). They also provide steady feedback, as opposed to services which return a single response.

Actions use a client-server model, similar to the publisher-subscriber model (described in the topics tutorial). An “action client” node sends a goal to an “action server” node that acknowledges the goal and returns a stream of feedback and a result.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

  • action help
ros2 action -h
  • Start turtlesim and keyboard control
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key

Press G|B|V|C|D|E|R|T to achieve rotation, press F to cancel

  • View the server and client of the node action
ros2 node info /turtlesim
  • View action list
ros2 action list
ros2 action list -t # show action type
  • view action info
ros2 action info <action>
ros2 action info /turtle1/rotate_absolute
  • View action message content
ros2 interface show turtlesim/action/RotateAbsolute
  • Send action target information
ros2 action send_goal <action_name> <action_type>
ros2 action send_goal /turtle1/rotate_absolute turtlesim/action/RotateAbsolute "{theta: 1.57}"
# With feedback information
ros2 action send_goal /turtle1/rotate_absolute turtlesim/action/RotateAbsolute "{theta: 0}" --feedback

6 RQt

RQt is a graphical user interface framework that implements various tools and interfaces in the form of plugins. One can run all the existing GUI tools as dockable windows within RQt! The tools can still run in a traditional standalone method, but RQt makes it easier to manage all the various windows in a single screen layout.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

You can run any RQt tools/plugins easily by:

  • rqt help
rqt -h
  • Start turtlesim and keyboard control
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key
  • Action Type Browser: / Plugins -> Actions ->Action Type Browser

  • parameter reconfiguration: / Plugins -> configuration ->Parameter Reconfigure

  • Node grap: /Node Graph

  • control steering: /Plugins -> Robot Tools -> Robot Steering

  • service invocation: /Plugins -> Services -> Service Caller

  • Service Type Browser: Plugins -> Services -> Service Type Browser

  • message release: Plugins -> Topics -> Message Publisher

  • Message Type Browser: Plugins -> Topics -> Message Type Browser

  • topic list: Plugins -> Topics -> Topic Monitor

  • draw a graph: Plugins -> Visualization -> Plot

  • View logs: rqt_console

ros2 run rqt_console rqt_console
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
ros2 topic pub -r 1 /turtle1/cmd_vel geometry_msgs/msg/Twist "{linear: {x: 2.0, y: 0.0, z: 0.0}, angular: {x: 0.0,y: 0.0,z: 0.0}}"

7 TF2

tf2 is the transform library, which lets the user keep track of multiple coordinate frames over time. tf2 maintains the relationship between coordinate frames in a tree structure buffered in time and lets the user transform points, vectors, etc. between any two coordinate frames at any desired point in time.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

Let’s start by installing the demo package and its dependencies.

sudo apt-get install ros-foxy-turtle-tf2-py ros-foxy-tf2-tools ros-foxy-tf-transformations
  • follow

  • launch starts 2 little turtles, the first little turtle automatically follows the second one

ros2 launch turtle_tf2_py
  • Control the movement of the first little turtle through the keyboard
ros2 run turtlesim turtle_teleop_key
  • View TF tree
ros2 run tf2_tools
evince frames.pdf
  • View the relationship between two coordinate systems
ros2 run tf2_ros tf2_echo [reference_frame] [target_frame]
ros2 run tf2_ros tf2_echo turtle2 turtle1
  • View TF relationships on rviz
ros2 run rviz2 rviz2 -d $(ros2 pkg prefix --share turtle_tf2_py)/rviz/turtle_rviz.rviz


URDF is the Unified Robot Description Format for specifying robot geometry and organization in ROS.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

  • Complete syntax
    # describe:
    # Parameters: name=""
    #  Child node:
            # Description:
            # Parameters:name=""
            # Child node:
                    # describe:
                    # Parameters:
                    # child nodes: 
                            # description
                            # parameters
                            # Child node: 
                                <cylinder />
                                    # Description:
                                    # Parameters:
                                        # length="0.6"
                                        # radius="0.2"
                                <box />
                                    # description
                                    # Parameters:size="0.6 0.1 0.2"
                                <mesh />
                                    #  Description
                                    #Parameters: filename="package://urdf_tutorial/meshes/l_finger_tip.dae"
                            # Description: collision element, prioritized
                            # parameters
                            # child node 
                            # description
                            # parameters
                            # Child nodes: 
                                <mass />
                                    # description: mass
                                    # Parameters: value=10
                                <inertia />
                                    # Description: Inertia
                                    # Parameters: i+"Cartesian product of xyz" (9 in total)="0.4"
                        <origin />
                            # Description:
                            # Parameters:
                                # rpy="0 1.5 0"
                                # xyz="0 0 -0.3"
                        <material />
                            # Description
                            # Parameters:name="blue"
            # Description
            # Parameters:
                # name=""
                # type=""
                    # fixed
                    # prismatic
            # child node
                <parent />
                    # Description
                    # Parameters:link=""
                <child />
                    # Description:
                    # Parameters:link=""
                <origin />
                    # Description:
                    # Parameters:xyz="0 -0.2 0.25"
                <limit />
                    # Description
                    # Parameters:
                        # effort="1000.0"    maximum effort
                        # lower="-0.38"      Joint upper limit (radians)
                        # upper="0"          Joint lower limit (radians)
                        # velocity="0.5"     Maximum velocity 
                <axis />
                    # Description: Press ? axis rotation
                    # Parameters:xyz="0 0 1",along the Z axis
            # Description:
            # Parameters:name="blue"
            # child node:
                <color />
                    # description:
                    # Parameters:rgba="0 0 0.8 1"
  • Install dependent libraries
sudo apt install ros-foxy-joint-state-publisher-gui ros-foxy-joint-state-publisher
sudo apt install ros-foxy-xacro
  • Download the source code
cd ~/dev_ws  
git clone -b ros2 src/urdf_tutorial
  • Compiling the source code
colcon build --packages-select urdf_tutorial
  • Running the example
ros2 launch urdf_tutorial model:=urdf/01-myfirst.urdf

9 Launch

The launch system in ROS 2 is responsible for helping the user describe the configuration of their system and then execute it as described. The configuration of the system includes what programs to run, where to run them, what arguments to pass them, and ROS-specific conventions which make it easy to reuse components throughout the system by giving them each a different configuration. It is also responsible for monitoring the state of the processes launched, and reporting and/or reacting to changes in the state of those processes.

Launch files written in Python, XML, or YAML can start and stop different nodes as well as trigger and act on various events.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials


Create a new directory to store your launch files:

mkdir launch

Writer the launch file

Let’s put together a ROS 2 launch file using the turtlesim package and its executables. As mentioned above.

Copy and paste the complete code into the launch/ file:

from launch import LaunchDescription
from launch_ros.actions import Node

def generate_launch_description():
    return LaunchDescription([
                ('/input/pose', '/turtlesim1/turtle1/pose'),
                ('/output/cmd_vel', '/turtlesim2/turtle1/cmd_vel'),

Run the ros2 launch file

To run the launch file created above, enter into the directory you created earlier and run the following command:

The syntax format is:

ros2 launch <package_name> <launch_file_name>
cd launch
ros2 launch
  • launch help
ros2 launch -h
  • running node
ros2 launch turtlesim
  • Check the parameters of the launc file
ros2 launch turtlebot3_fake_node -s
ros2 launch turtlebot3_fake_node --show-arguments
ros2 launch turtlebot3_bringup -s
  • Run the launch file with parameters
ros2 launch turtlebot3_bringup usb_port:=/dev/opencr
  • Run the node and debug
ros2 launch turtlesim -d
  • Only output node description
ros2 launch turtlesim -p
  • running components
ros2 launch composition

10 Run

run is used to run a single node, component program

  • run help
ros2 run -h
  • running node
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node
  • Run node with parameters
ros2 run turtlesim turtlesim_node --ros-args -r __node:=turtle2 -r __ns:=/ns2
  • Run component container
ros2 run rclcpp_components component_container
  • running components
ros2 run composition manual_composition

11 Package

A package can be considered a container for your ROS 2 code. If you want to be able to install your code or share it with others, then you’ll need it organized in a package. With packages, you can release your ROS 2 work and allow others to build and use it easily.

Package creation in ROS 2 uses ament as its build system and colcon as its build tool. You can create a package using either CMake or Python, which are officially supported, though other build types do exist.

Specific reference: Official Tutorials

Creating a workspace

Create a new directory for every new workspace. The name doesn’t matter, but it is helpful to have it indicate the purpose of the workspace. Let’s choose the directory name ros2_ws, for “development workspace”:

mkdir -p ~/ros2_ws/src
cd ~/ros2_ws/src
  • pkg help
ros2 pkg -h
  • List Feature Packs
ros2 pkg executable turtlesim
  • Output a function package executable program
ros2 pkg executable turtlesim
  • Create a Python package

Make sure you are in the src folder before running the package creation command.

cd ~/ros2_ws/src

The command syntax for creating a new package in ROS 2 is:

ros2 pkg create --build-type ament_python <package_name>
# you will use the optional argument --node-name which creates a simple Hello World type executable in the package.
ros2 pkg create --build-type ament_python --node-name my_node my_package
  • Build a package

Putting packages in a workspace is especially valuable because you can build many packages at once by running colcon build in the workspace root. Otherwise, you would have to build each package individually.

# Return to the root of your workspace:
cd ~/ros2_ws
# Now you can build your packages:
colcon build
  • Source the setup file

To use your new package and executable, first open a new terminal and source your main ROS 2 installation.

Then, from inside the ros2_ws directory, run the following command to source your workspace:

source install/setup.bash

Now that your workspace has been added to your path, you will be able to use your new package’s executables.

  • Use the package

To run the executable you created using the --node-name argument during package creation, enter the command:

ros2 run my_package my_node

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