[ros-users] ROS usability (was: ROS & DDS)

Jonathan Bohren jonathan.bohren at gmail.com
Tue Feb 18 15:34:14 UTC 2014


These are some great points! We've observed a lot of these things in the
process of teaching ROS here at Hopkins. Recently I put together a couple
of ROS tutorials which are meant to get someone started really fast without
concept overload, especially if they have little experience with the sort
of open source development patterns commonly used in the ROS community.

Check them out, I haven't posted them on the wiki because I wanted to have
a bit more control over how they're presented and to avoid the distraction
of the other tutorials:

1. http:// <http://jbohren.com/articles/roscpp-hello-world>jbohren.com<http://jbohren.com/articles/roscpp-hello-world>
/articles/ <http://jbohren.com/articles/roscpp-hello-world>roscpp<http://jbohren.com/articles/roscpp-hello-world>
-hello-world <http://jbohren.com/articles/roscpp-hello-world>

2. http:// <http://jbohren.com/articles/gentle-catkin-intro/>jbohren.com<http://jbohren.com/articles/gentle-catkin-intro/>

3. http:// <http://jbohren.com/articles/modular-ros-packages/>jbohren.com<http://jbohren.com/articles/modular-ros-packages/>

So, I actually ask "What would you improve about ROS" in every single
related job interview I conduct...I've got a long list.

On ROS usability itself, the largest thing which has come up has been the
renewed difficulty in getting started. Even though new users are no longer
being thrown into the middle of the rosmake/catkin transition, the overhead
in creating a new package has increased dramatically.

It's been a long time since I've used the rosmake/rospy/Electric combo, but
IIRC all you needed to do was:
1) Source setup.bash
2) Call the package creation script
3) Write a .py script
4) Add the package to ROS_PACKAGE_PATH

Three of those four steps are one-liners, and the fourth has near-instant
gratification for the developers.

Another point: ROS used to be three steps for a full install: (key, update,
install), and now you need to jump through hoops for rosdep and other
"noncritical yet required" items.

Something else which is important to note is that the purpose of all of
those above steps are easily explainable to someone who knows nothing about
ROS at all, which is certainly not the case now. (ex. "Why do I have to
specify basic ROS dependencies in three different locations?", "Why do I
need to set up build instructions for a script I intend to run in place?")

So, we've made development and installation more difficult by leaps and
bounds, and now we have the potential to make the same mistake with the
transport layer?

IMO, we should all keep in mind that ROS is where it is in large part due
to it being easy to install and get started on. I'm not saying at all that
we should stop improving performance, but I am saying that we should
consider the "getting started" for new developers more than we have been.
Even from a personal note, it sometimes takes me longer to set up a
workspace and package setup for a quick test than it does for me to write
the actual code. True, I can set up templates and scripts to speed this
up...but why should I have to?

On Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 5:56 AM, Thibault Kruse <kruset at in.tum.de> wrote:

> > Ease of use is *critical*. We're already receiving regular feedback
> > that the usability of ROS is getting worse with each distribution.
> >
> > -Ryan
> Hi Ryan,
> it would be interesting to hear more details about what parts of ROS
> suffered usability most, and what impact this has on Clearpath Robotics
> Business.
> The question about DDS was not asked by some OSRF technical underling or
> the ROS platform manager, but by the OSRF CEO. So we can presume that the
> internal discussion about DDS at OSRF is not just philantrophic idle talk,
> but more relevant to the future of OSRF itself (not just ROS).
> It seems unclear whether the loss of usability of ROS will have an impact
> on OSRF funding, or whether OSRF should invest into integrating accepted
> industry standards (like DDS) into ROS rather than improving usability.
> The loss of usability itself is a pity, but OSRF closing shop would be
> much more dramatic for the future of ROS.
> regards,
>   Thibault
> _______________________________________________
> ros-users mailing list
> ros-users at lists.ros.org
> http://lists.ros.org/mailman/listinfo/ros-users

ros-users mailing list
ros-users at lists.ros.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.ros.org/pipermail/ros-users/attachments/20140218/8c6c5d4c/attachment.html>

More information about the ros-users mailing list