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Helper functions for displaying and debugging MoveIt! data in Rviz via published markers


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MoveIt Visual Tools

Helper functions for displaying and debugging MoveIt data in Rviz via published markers, trajectories, and MoveIt collision objects. It is sometimes hard to understand everything that is going on internally with MoveIt, but using these quick convenience functions allows one to easily visualize their code. This package is built in top of rviz_visual_tools and all those features are included via class inheritance.

This package helps you visualize:

  • Basic Rviz geometric shapes
  • MoveIt collision objects
  • MoveIt and ROS trajectories
  • Robot states
  • End effectors
  • Interactive markers to move robot arms using IK from remote applications

This open source project was developed at PickNik Robotics. Need professional ROS development and consulting? Contact us at for a free consultation.



  • Build Status Travis CI
  • Build Status ROS Buildfarm - AMD64 Xenial Debian Build - Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
  • Build Status ROS Buildfarm - AMD64 Xenial Devel Build - Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
  • Build Status ROS Buildfarm - AMD64 Bionic Source Build - Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
  • Build Status ROS Buildfarm - AMD64 Bionic Devel Build - Ubuntu 18.04 LTS


  • Build and Test Github Actions - AMD64 Focal Source Build - Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
  • Formatting(pre-commit) Formatting(pre-commit)

ROS2 Install

Install From Source

Install moveit2 following the instructions here. After sourcing the moveit workspace clone this repository into a colcon workspace, import and install dependencies and build:

source ~/ws_moveit/install/setup.bash
cd $COLCON_WS/src
git clone -b ros2
vcs import < moveit_visual_tools/moveit_visual_tools.repos
rosdep install -r --from-paths . --ignore-src --rosdistro foxy -y
colcon build --event-handlers desktop_notification- status- --cmake-args -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

Quick Start Demo

To run some demos displaying robot states and collision objects:

ros2 launch moveit_visual_tools

Code API

See VisualTools Class Reference


We'll assume you will be using these helper functions within a class.


Add to your includes:

#include <moveit_visual_tools/moveit_visual_tools.h>

Add to your class's member variables:

// For visualizing things in rviz
moveit_visual_tools::MoveItVisualToolsPtr visual_tools_;

In your class' constructor add:

visual_tools_ = std::make_shared<moveit_visual_tools::MoveItVisualTools>(node_, "world", "/moveit_visual_tools");

Collision Object Functions

Helpers for adding and removing objects from the MoveIt planning scene. CO stands for Collision Object and ACO stands for Active Collision Object.

  • cleanupCO
  • cleanupACO
  • attachCO
  • publishCollisionBlock
  • publishCollisionCylinder
  • publishCollisionTree
  • publishCollisionTable
  • publishCollisionWall

And more...

Animate Trajectories

Higher level robot and trajectory functions

  • publishTrajectoryPath
  • publishTrajectoryPoint
  • publishRobotState
  • publishAnimatedGrasps
  • publishIKSolutions

Show parts of a robot

These functions are a little more complicated

  • publishEEMarkers

Parent Class

This class is built on top of rviz_visual_tools so all features and documentation for that package apply here as well.

Developers Notes

Useful notes for anyone wanting to dig in deeper:

  • All poses are published with respect to the world frame e.g. /world, /odom, or maybe /base
  • All publish() ROS topics should be followed by a rclcpp::spin_some(node); but no sleep
  • Do not want to load any features/publishers until they are actually needed since this library contains so many components

Linting (pre-commit)

pre-commit is a tool that is used in moveit2_tutorials to check and apply style guidelines automatically. To install pre-commit into your system:

pip3 install pre-commit

Then under moveit2_tutorials directory install the git hooks like this:

cd $COLCON_WS/src/moveit2_tutorials && pre-commit install

With this pre-commit will automatically run and check a list of styling including clang-format, end of files and trailing whitespaces whenever you run git commit. To run pre-commit any time other than git commit:

cd $COLCON_WS/src/moveit2_tutorials && pre-commit run -a


Please send PRs for new helper functions, fixes, etc!