catment

William Woodall edited this page Oct 5, 2016 · 1 revision

catment: On the mixing of ament and catkin

All that follows is experimental and speculative.

Background

There once was a thing called rosbuild. Then came a thing called catkin, which largely replaced rosbuild. Recently introduced is a thing called ament, which may one day replace catkin.

All three tools can be considered "meta-build systems." They sit atop other build systems (e.g., CMake, Python setuptools) and provide extra functionality that's intended to make those build systems easier to use, especially when managing dependencies across multiple packages and when building multiple packages in a single workspace.

Each of these meta-build systems does two things:

  1. Add API to the underlying build system (e.g,. CMake) that can be used to simplify common tasks (e.g., supplying all the flags exported by depended-upon packages when building an executable). There are usually hooks to allow injection of extra API by packages outside of the core meta-build system.
  • rosbuild: mk/cmake.mk, rosbuild_init(), rosbuild_add_executable(), etc.
  • catkin: catkin_package(), catkin_install_python(), etc.
  • ament: ament_target_dependencies(), ament_export_dependencies(), ament_package(), etc.
  1. Provide a tool that can be used to iterate in dependency order over a workspace full of packages, building and perhaps installing each one.
  • rosbuild: rosmake
  • catkin: catkin build, catkin_make, catkin_make_isolated, etc.
  • ament: ament build

The common thread that ties all of these systems together is the division of the code into packages, with each package containing a manifest file (manifest.xml or package.xml). This manifest is required (with some exceptions) for both parts of the meta-build system (API and building tool) to function.

Postulates

  1. While we usually consider the two aspects of a meta-build system to be coupled, they needn't be. The API used inside a package and the tool that iterates over the packages can be considered largely independent, with the package manifest forming the interface between them. There's no reason in principle why, for example, rosmake couldn't be modified to iterate over a workspace filled with catkin packages, stepping into them in dependency order and doing the usual mkdir build; cd build; cmake ..; make install routine for each one (with appropriate flags passed to cmake and make).

  2. The effort required to migrate from one meta-build system to another should be minimized. The mass migration from rosbuild to catkin was difficult and remains a sore point for many in the community. While it's reasonable to ask developers to make changes in exchange for getting access to new functionality, the changes that are required should be as small as possible without sacrificing the effectiveness of the new system. This is especially true when the old system is in widespread use.

  3. Corollary: Migration to a new meta-build system should not be required without a very good reason. If a developer doesn't want the functionality offered by the new system, then she shouldn't be coerced into migrating from the old system unless there's something irrevocably broken about the old system (e.g., rosbuild's in-source build pattern and lack of an "install" step).

  4. Interoperability is a good thing. Whenever possible (not all combinations will be practical), developers should be able to mix and match meta-build systems, including mixing their different aspects (i.e., use the building tool from one system and the API from another). Such mixing and matching is especially important when developers want to combine a large existing code base using one meta-build system (e.g., ROS with catkin) with new libraries and tools offered by a code base using another meta-build system (e.g., ROS2 with ament). Ideally that kind of combination can be done without requiring changes to the API used by either code base and without telling the developer which builder tool to use.

  5. Corollary: Workspaces needn't be homogeneous. There's no reason that we shouldn't be able to freely mix, say, catkin and ament packages in one workspace, with dependencies going in both directions, so long as the builder tool in use knows how to build them both. The primary interface between packages (at least, CMake-controlled packages) is their CMake configuration file. So long as that configuration file follows the standard protocol (setting foo_LIBRARIES, etc.), then it shouldn't matter who wrote the file. It could be auto-generated by catkin or ament, or even manually crafted by a developer who wants to use plain CMake in her package, but still have that package depended-upon by catkin or ament packages.

Use cases, with experimental implementations

Adding ROS packages to a ROS2 workspace and building with ament build

Let's say that you want to add some existing ROS packages to your ROS2 workspace and don't want to migrate the ROS packages from catkin to ament (or vice versa). Here are two patches that let you do that:

  • ament_package: Add support for format 1 package manifests, instead of requiring format 2. This change isn't strictly related to catkin vs. ament, because format 2 has been around for a while and catkin supports it, so developers could already update their manifests to format 2. But there's a ton of ROS code out there that uses format 1, so we should support it. This implementation could be improved, e.g., by reasoning over the various flavors of depend tags and how they differ between formats 1 and 2.
  • ament_tools: Add a new catkin build type to ament. This implementation just treats catkin packages the same as plain cmake packages, which seems to work fine. It could be made more sophisticated.

Example usage:

  1. Get the ROS2 code as usual, using the branches mentioned above.
  2. Add to your workspace some catkin ROS packages, ensuring that all of their dependencies are satisfied (either also present in the workspace or installed elsewhere with appropriate setup shell files sourced).
  3. Build as usual (e.g., ./src/ament/ament_tools/scripts/ament.by build).

Voila: your existing code isn't suddenly broken just because there's a new builder tool in use.

Variation: Building ROS packages with ament build

Let's say that you love the new ament tool and want to use it to build your existing ROS packages that use catkin internally. Here's an example of how to do that, by doing a minimal installation of ament and then using it to build a workspace full of ROS catkin packages:

mkdir -p ~/ament_ws/src
cd ~/ament_ws/src
git clone https://github.com/osrf/osrf_pycommon.git
git clone https://github.com/ament/ament_package.git
cd ament_package
git checkout catkin
cd ..
git clone https://github.com/ament/ament_tools.git
cd ament_tools
git checkout catkin
cd ../..
 ./src/ament_tools/scripts/ament.py build

Now build the ROS packages:

. $HOME/ament_ws/install/setup.bash
cd ~/ros_catkin_ws
ament build

Voila: you used the ament build tool to build your catkin packages, without having to migrate them.

Variation: Using the catkin API in a ROS2 package

Let's say that you're building on top of ROS2, which internally uses the ament API, and you want to add a new package using the catkin API.

To make this work, we need a Python3 installation of catkin (the binary debians use Python2.7). Here's an example of doing that, installing to $HOME/catkin:

# install catkin_pkg
git clone https://github.com/ros-infrastructure/catkin_pkg.git
cd catkin_pkg
git checkout ament
python3 setup.py install --prefix $HOME/catkin --single-version-externally-managed --record foo --install-layout deb
# install catkin
git clone https://github.com/ros/catkin.git
cd catkin
git checkout ament
mkdir build
cd build
PYTHONPATH=$HOME/catkin/lib/python3/dist-packages/ cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$HOME/catkin -DPYTHON_EXECUTABLE=/usr/bin/python3
make install

To use that version of catkin, you just need to source the $HOME/catkin/setup.bash file.

Let's assume that you have the usual ROS2 workspace in ~/ros2_ws, and that you're on the catkin branches in ament_package and ament_tools. Add to that workspace the image_tools_catkin package from https://github.com/gerkey/catment. It's a simple port of the ROS2 image_tools package, taking it from the ament API to the catkin API. To build it:

cd ~/ros2_ws
. $HOME/catkin/setup.bash
./src/ament/ament_tools/scripts/ament.py build

Voila: when adding new packages atop ROS2, you're free to choose which CMake API you prefer inside your package.

  • Caveat: I had to comment out the use of CATKIN_DEPENDS inside catkin_package(), because somewhere somebody was getting upset that things like rclcpp aren't catkin packages. That constraint needs to be relaxed somehow.
  • TODO: The same demo but with a ament package that depends on a catkin package (this is easy).
  • TODO: The same demo but with a package that has a vanilla CMakeLists.txt that uses neither ament nor catkin, and provides a manually generated fooConfig.cmake file that exports the right stuff to make it look the same to outsiders.

Building ROS2 packages with catkin_make_isolated

Let's say that you're already familiar with ROS and catkin and that you're excited to try ROS2, but that you're not in the mood to learn about ament. You'd rather stick to what you know, such as using catkin_make_isolated to build everything. Here is a patch that allows you to do that:

  • catkin: Add support for packages that declare themselves to have a build type of ament_*. This implementation calls out to ament to build each such package. While ament_cmake packages can be treated as plain cmake packages (as we did when adding catkin support to ament), ament_python packages require some gnarly invocations of Python. Instead of trying to replicate that logic in catkin, it's easier to just let ament handle it. Also in this patch, we add the buildtool_export_depend packages to the set that are considered when building.
  • catkin_pkg: Also in this patch, we add the buildtool_export_depend packages to the set that are considered when computing the topological order.

Because we're going to call out to ament build, we will also need a minimal installation of ament, as did in a previous example:

mkdir -p ~/ament_ws/src
cd ~/ament_ws/src
git clone https://github.com/osrf/osrf_pycommon.git
git clone https://github.com/ament/ament_package.git
cd ament_package
git checkout catkin
cd ..
git clone https://github.com/ament/ament_tools.git
cd ament_tools
git checkout catkin
cd ../..
 ./src/ament_tools/scripts/ament.py build

Then we need to install the modified version of catkin somewhere:

# install catkin_pkg
git clone https://github.com/ros-infrastructure/catkin_pkg.git
cd catkin_pkg
git checkout ament
python3 setup.py install --prefix $HOME/catkin --single-version-externally-managed --record foo --install-layout deb
# install catkin
git clone https://github.com/ros/catkin.git
cd catkin
git checkout ament
mkdir build
cd build
PYTHONPATH=$HOME/catkin/lib/python3/dist-packages/ cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$HOME/catkin -DPYTHON_EXECUTABLE=/usr/bin/python3
make install

Now build the ROS2 packages:

. $HOME/catkin/setup.bash
. $HOME/ament_ws/install/setup.bash
cd ~/ros2_ws
touch src/eProsima/AMENT_IGNORE
PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:/home/gerkey/ros2_ws_catkin/install_isolated/lib/python3.5/site-packages catkin_make_isolated --install

Voila: you've built ROS2 using the tools that you're familiar with.

  • Caveat: we're ignoring the eProsima packages in the workspace because they lack package.xml files, which means that catkin can't see them. ament has some heuristics for handling such packages. Options: backport those heuristics to catkin; switch to installing non-package.xml-containing packages outside of the workspace; or just add a package.xml to each of those packages (e.g., in our own fork).

Combining all of ROS and ROS2 in one workspace and building it (TODO)

This step will require sorting out some things, including at least:

  • Package name conflicts. We currently have ROS2 versions of ROS message packages, as well as some stuff in geometry2. Either the functionality needs to be merged into one package that can support both systems, or the new versions need different names.
  • Message generation. ROS and ROS2 have different message generation steps, the output of which might or not might conflict. Something sort of sophisticated needs to be done to allow generation of all the right artifacts from a single message package (or, as indicated above, the new message packages need different name).

Using bloom to release ament packages (TODO)

It seems like bloom ought be able to release packages that use the ament CMake API, and that the resulting releases should be able to be built on the farm. We can make changes to bloom and ros_buildfarm as needed to enable this use case.

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