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Rapid prototyping and experimentation framework for robotics and cognitive systems based synchronous data flow and visual programming.
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CS::APEX (Algorithm Prototyper and EXperimentor for Cognitive Systems)

CS::APEX is a framework based on synchronous dataflow and event-based message passing that aims to speed up prototyping of new robotic algorithms using visual programming aspects.

Example workflow: (click for better quality)

Graph Construction Video

Dataflow Graph and Core Features

Calculations are represented by a nodes in a directed graph with data flowing on the directed edges.This execution graph is manipulated using a simple graphical user interface that allows spawning and deleting nodes, adding and removing edges and visualizating data in the stream. To speed up the prototyping process, other features like undo/redo mechanisms and profiling are implemented as well. Finally there exists an easy to use parameter system that generates UI controls for each block and allows parameter tuning and optimization.

Functionality via Plug-ins

The framework itself does not provide any predefined computation nodes and does not depend on specific message definitions or node types. These details are instead implemented in plug-in libraries that extend the functionality of the whole system.

Application to Robotics

The framework is targeted toward use in robotics and is fully compatible with ROS. Configurations generated using the GUI can directly be deployed on any ROS-based robotic system.

Tutorials and more Information

For more information, please refer to the Wiki at

the official website at

or contact the maintainers via email.


We rely on the catkin build system developed in the ROS ecosystem. The core framework is independent of ROS, however.

Required for a build are:

  • Linux system (tested with Ubuntu)
  • C++11 compatible compiler (g++, clang++)
  • Qt5 (on Ubuntu: qt5-default libqt5svg5-dev)
  • libraries:
    • boost (program_options, filesystem, system, regex)
    • classloader
    • TinyXML (on Ubuntu: libtinyxml-dev)
    • yaml-cpp (on Ubuntu: libyaml-cpp-dev)

These dependencies can be installed via rosdep (see below.)

Basic Installation

To get the cs::APEX framework and a set of core plugins, perform the following:

cd ~
mkdir -p ws/csapex/src
cd ws/csapex/src

git clone

cd csapex/plugins
git clone

cd ../..
mkdir libs
cd libs

git clone
git clone
git clone
git clone

cd ../..
rosdep install -y -r -i --from-paths src

Creating Documenation

To create the documentation, run

doxygen doc/Doxyfile

This will generate the documentation at



All contributions are welcome, please refer to the file.

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