ROS2 setup tutorial
ROS2 is the newest version of ROS, Robot Operating System, which is a set of libraries and tools designed for robot applications.
This tutorial describes how to use CLion as an IDE for developing ROS2 applications built with colcon. If you are working with an older ROS distribution, which uses catkin build tools, please refer to the previous tutorial.
Instructions below show the following procedures on Windows: creating a ROS2 workspace, opening it as a compilation database project in CLion, building, running/debugging a package, adding another package, and rebuilding the workspace.
Create a workspace
We will take the official Simple publisher and subscriber (C++) guide as an example.
Open a terminal in Administrator mode.
- Source the ROS2 installation. In our case the command is call C:\dev\ros2\ros2-windows\local_setup.bat
Create a directory for a new workspace and navigate into itmd \dev_ws\src cd \dev_ws\src
Create a publisher-subscriber packageros2 pkg create --build-type ament_cmake cpp_pubsub
Follow the next steps to get the source files, CMakeLists.txt, and package.xml, up until building.
At this point, we have the following folder structure:
Build a workspace in terminal and generate a compilation database
This option is supported in CMake only for the Makefile and Ninja generators, so we also need to switch between the generators using
In the same terminal where you initially sourced the ROS2 installation, navigate to the workspace-level folder (dev_ws in our case) and runcolcon build --cmake-args -DCMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS=ON -G Ninja
When build is finished, make sure that dev_ws\build contains a compile_commands.json file. In case it is not there, make sure your colcon version supports generating workspace-level compilation databases (see this issue).
Launch CLion in the sourced environment
In the same terminal, source the workspace setup files:call install/setup.bat
Next, launch CLion from the same shell. Refer to Command-line interface for instructions.
For example, in the case of using Toolbox, you can create a script for launching the IDE. In our case, it is located in C:\IDE_shell_scripts.cd C:\IDE_shell_scripts\ clion
As the result, CLion will be launched with the ROS2 environment already prepared.
Open a workspace in CLion
In CLion, call compile_commands.json file in the top-level build directory:from the main menu and select the
Click Open as project:
Check that the project is loaded successfully:
Change the project root
By default, CLions considers the directory containing the compile_commands.json file as project root. In our case, it is the build directory. In the Project tree, the actual source files are marked as external:
To get the correct project structure, we need to set the project root to the actual workspace directory.
Call dev_ws in our case).from the main menu and select the workspace directory (
Check the changes in Project view:
At this point, all the CLion editing features are fully available for the workspace sources.
How to build a package
In order to build and then launch a package inside CLion, we will create a custom build target for CMake commands actually performed during
colcon build, and then create a custom application configuration for that target.
1. Create a script for the 'colcon build' commands
Navigate to the build logs directory. In our case, it's C:\dev_ws\log\latest_build\cpp_pubsub. Open the command.txt file from the latest build.
Copy the commands into another file and modify them to the following:"C:\Program Files\CMake\bin\cmake.EXE" C:\dev_ws\src\cpp_pubsub -DCMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS=ON -G Ninja -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=C:\dev_ws\install\cpp_pubsub "C:\Program Files\CMake\bin\cmake.EXE" --build C:\dev_ws\build\cpp_pubsub -- -j8 -l8 "C:\Program Files\CMake\bin\cmake.EXE" --install C:\dev_ws\build\cpp_pubsub
Save the file as a .bat script. In our example, it is called cmake_commands.bat and placed into c:\dev_ws\src\cpp_pubsub\.
2. Create a custom build target
In CLion, go toand click to add a new target.
Set the Toolchain to Visual Studio. Refer to our Windows tutorial for details on how to configure a Visual Studio toolchain in CLion.
Click next to the Build field. Then click to add an external.
In the Program field, select the newly created script. Set the Working directory to the package build directory.
Save the custom target.
3. Create a run/debug configuration for the custom build target
To be able to build and then launch the target we have for the package, we need to create a corresponding configuration.
Go to Custom Build Application., click and select
In the configuration settings, select the Target and make sure to remove Build from the Before launch area.
4. Build a package
Select the configuration in the toolbar switcher:
Click the hammer icon or press Ctrl + F9. Alternatively, call Build | Build 'Build cpp_pubsub' from the main menu.
Check the result in the Run tool window.
Run/debug a package
Open the Edit Configurations dialog again.
- Modify the configuration for build to the following:
Set the Executable to the actual package binary.
Select the Run with Administrator privileges checkbox. See Debug as root for more information.
CLion will take the debugger from target's toolchain. In our case, it is MSVC LLDB.
How to build a workspace
Now let’s take a look at how we can add a new package and rebuild the entire workspace in CLion. To illustrate this, we’ll take an example of adding a Simple service and client package to our dev_ws workspace.
Prepare new package files
Build the whole workspace
To (re)build the entire workspace, we will configure an external tool for
colcon build and call it without leaving CLion.
Go toand click to add a new tool.
Configure the tool to perform the same
colcon buildcommand as we used when building from the command line:
After saving the tool, call it viaon the main menu.
- Check the results in the Run tool window:
Check that compile_commands.json has been regenerated and now includes the entities for both packages:
Make sure to reload the compilation database (press Ctrl+Shift+O or call configure auto-reload.form the main menu). To avoid reloading the project manually,
At this point, both of the packages are included in CLion project model and you can work with them as usual. To build and run the second package, follow the steps described above.