How to Create a ROS Workspace

ros-homepage

Before you start writing code in ROS, you need to create a workspace. A workspace is a set of directories (or folders) where you store related pieces of ROS code. The official name for workspaces in ROS is catkin workspaces. The word ‘catkin’ comes from the tail-shaped flower cluster found on willow trees (see photo below) — a reference to Willow Garage, the original developers of ROS. 

willow_catkins_blossom_bloom

The official instructions for creating a ROS workspace are at ROS.org, but I will walk you through the process below so you can see how it is done.

Directions

Open up a new terminal window (I’m assuming you are using ROS on Ubuntu Linux), and type the following commands to create and build at catkin workspace.

mkdir -p ~/catkin_ws/src
cd ~/catkin_ws/
catkin_make
1-catkin-workspace

Type the dir command, and you will see three folders inside of this directory: build, devel, and src.

2-dir-command

Now we need to source the setup.bash file. This file sets the path of the workspace so that packages and code inside the workspace can be found.

source devel/setup.bash
3-set-path

Make sure the workspace is properly overlayed by the setup script (which we ran above).

echo $ROS_PACKAGE_PATH
4-make-sure

So we don’t have to source the setup.bash file every time we open a new Linux terminal, let’s add the ~/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash command to the .bashrc file. Open a new Linux terminal window.

Type the following command to edit the .bashrc text file:

gedit .bashrc

Add this line to the end of the .bashrc file:

source ~/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash
5-edit-bashrc-file

That’s it! You’re all done. Just click Save and exit the text editor.