Publishers and subscribers

ROS 2 publishers and subscribers are the basic communication mechanism between nodes using topics. Further information about ROS 2 publish–subscribe pattern can be found here.

Ready to use code related to this concepts can be found in micro-ROS-demos/rclc/int32_publisher and micro-ROS-demos/rclc/int32_subscriber folders. Fragments of code from this examples are used on this tutorial.

Publisher

Initialization

Starting from a code where RCL is initialized and a micro-ROS node is created, there are tree ways to initialize a publisher depending on the desired quality-of-service configuration:

  • Reliable (default):
    // Publisher object
    rcl_publisher_t publisher;
    const char * topic_name = "test_topic";
    
    // Get message type support
    const rosidl_message_type_support_t * type_support =
      ROSIDL_GET_MSG_TYPE_SUPPORT(std_msgs, msg, Int32);
    
    // Creates a reliable rcl publisher
    rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_publisher_init_default(
      &publisher, &node,
      &type_support, &topic_name);
    
    if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
      ...  // Handle error
      return -1;
    }
    
  • Best effort:
    // Publisher object
    rcl_publisher_t publisher;
    const char * topic_name = "test_topic";
    
    // Get message type support
    const rosidl_message_type_support_t * type_support =
      ROSIDL_GET_MSG_TYPE_SUPPORT(std_msgs, msg, Int32);
    
    // Creates a best effort rcl publisher
    rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_publisher_init_best_effort(
      &publisher, &node,
      &type_support, &topic_name);
    
    if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
      ...  // Handle error
      return -1;
    }
    
  • Custom QoS:

    // Publisher object
    rcl_publisher_t publisher;
    const char * topic_name = "test_topic";
    
    // Get message type support
    const rosidl_message_type_support_t * type_support =
      ROSIDL_GET_MSG_TYPE_SUPPORT(std_msgs, msg, Int32);
    
    // Set publisher QoS
    const rmw_qos_profile_t * qos_profile = &rmw_qos_profile_default;
    
    // Creates a rcl publisher with customized quality-of-service options
    rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_publisher_init(
      &publisher, &node,
      &type_support, &topic_name, qos_profile);
    
    if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
      ...  // Handle error
      return -1;
    }
    

    For a detail on the available QoS options and the advantages and disadvantages between reliable and best effort modes, check the QoS tutorial.

Publish a message

To publish messages to the topic:

// Int32 message object
std_msgs__msg__Int32 msg;

// Set message value
msg.data = 0;

// Publish message
rcl_ret_t rc = rcl_publish(&publisher, &msg, NULL);

if (rc != RCL_RET_OK) {
  ...  // Handle error
  return -1;
}

For periodic publications, rcl_publish can be placed inside a timer callback. Check the Executor and timers section for details.

Note: rcl_publish is thread safe and can be called from multiple threads.

Subscription

Initialization

The suscriptor initialization is almost identical to the publisher one:

  • Reliable (default):
    // Subscription object
    rcl_subscription_t subscriber;
    const char * topic_name = "test_topic";
    
    // Get message type support
    const rosidl_message_type_support_t * type_support =
      ROSIDL_GET_MSG_TYPE_SUPPORT(std_msgs, msg, Int32);
    
    // Initialize a reliable subscriber
    rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_subscription_init_default(
      &subscriber, &node,
      &type_support, &topic_name);
    
    if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
      ...  // Handle error
      return -1;
    }
    
  • Best effort:

    // Subscription object
    rcl_subscription_t subscriber;
    const char * topic_name = "test_topic";
    
    // Get message type support
    const rosidl_message_type_support_t * type_support =
      ROSIDL_GET_MSG_TYPE_SUPPORT(std_msgs, msg, Int32);
    
    // Initialize best effort subscriber
    rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_subscription_init_best_effort(
      &subscriber, &node,
      &type_support, &topic_name);
    
    if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
      ...  // Handle error
      return -1;
    }
    
  • Custom QoS:

    // Subscription object
    rcl_subscription_t subscriber;
    const char * topic_name = "test_topic";
    
    // Get message type support
    const rosidl_message_type_support_t * type_support =
      ROSIDL_GET_MSG_TYPE_SUPPORT(std_msgs, msg, Int32);
    
    // Set client QoS
    const rmw_qos_profile_t * qos_profile = &rmw_qos_profile_default;
    
    // Initialize a subscriber with customized quality-of-service options
    rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_subscription_init(
      &subscriber, &node,
      &type_support, &topic_name, qos_profile);
    
    if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
      ...  // Handle error
      return -1;
    }
    

For a detail on the available QoS options and the advantages and disadvantages between reliable and best effort modes, check the QoS tutorial.

Callbacks

The executor is responsible to call the configured callback when a message is published. The function will have the message as its only argument, containing the values sent by the publisher:

// Function prototype:
void (* rclc_subscription_callback_t)(const void *);

// Implementation example:
void subscription_callback(const void * msgin)
{
  // Cast received message to used type
  const std_msgs__msg__Int32 * msg = (const std_msgs__msg__Int32 *)msgin;

  // Process message
  printf("Received: %d\n", msg->data);
}

Once the subscriber and the executor are initialized, the subscriber callback must be added to the executor to receive incoming publications once its spinning:

// Message object to receive publisher data
std_msgs__msg__Int32 msg;

// Add subscription to the executor
rcl_ret_t rc = rclc_executor_add_subscription(
  &executor, &subscriber, &msg,
  &subscription_callback, ON_NEW_DATA);

if (RCL_RET_OK != rc) {
  ...  // Handle error
  return -1;
}

// Spin executor to receive messages
rclc_executor_spin(&executor);

Message initialization

Before publishing or receiving a message, it may be necessary to initialize its memory for types with strings or sequences. Check the Handling messages memory in micro-ROS section for details.

Cleaning Up

After finishing the publisher/subscriber, the node will no longer be advertising that it is publishing/listening on the topic. To destroy an initialized publisher or subscriber:

// Destroy publisher
rcl_publisher_fini(&publisher, &node);

// Destroy subscriber
rcl_subscription_fini(&subscriber, &node);

This will delete any automatically created infrastructure on the agent (if possible) and deallocate used memory on the client side.