Create Custom Messages from ROS Package

In this example, you go through the procedure for creating ROS custom messages in MATLAB®. It assumes you have already gone through the installation process shown in Install Robotics System Toolbox Add-ons. Also, you must have a ROS package that contains the required msg, srv, and package.xml files. The correct file contents and folder structure are described in Custom Message Contents. This folder structure follows the standard ROS package conventions. Therefore, if you have any existing packages, they should match this structure.

It is recommended you start this procedure after opening a new MATLAB session to ensure that there are no lingering changes to MATLAB preferences from previous work. After ensuring that your custom message package is correct, note the folder path location. Then, call rosgenmsg with the specified path and follow the steps output in the command window. The following example has three messages, A, B, and C, that have dependencies on each other. This example also illustrates that you can use a folder containing multiple messages and generate them all at the same time.

To set up custom messages in MATLAB:

  • Open MATLAB in a new session

  • Place your custom message folder in a location and note the folder path. In this example, a location of example packages is provided and copied to userFolder location. Make sure that the userFolder directory exists prior to running this code.

    examplePackages = fullfile(fileparts(which('rosgenmsg')), 'examples', 'packages');
    userFolder = 'c:\MATLAB\custom_msgs';
    copyfile(examplePackages, userFolder)
  • Specify the folder path of the custom messages.

    folderpath = userFolder;
    

    (Optional) If you have an existing catkin workspace (catkin_ws), you can specify the path to its src folder instead. However, this workspace might contain a large number of packages and message generation will be run for all of them.

    folderpath = fullfile('catkin_ws','src');
    
  • Specify the folder path for custom message files and call rosgenmsg to create custom messages for MATLAB.

    rosgenmsg(folderpath)
    Checking subfolder "A" for custom messages.
     
    Checking subfolder "B" for custom messages.
     
    Checking subfolder "C" for custom messages.
     
    Building custom message files for the following packages:
       A
       B
       C
     
     
    Generating MATLAB classes for message packages in 
    C:\MATLAB\custom_msgs\matlab_gen\jar
     
    Loading file A-1.0.jar.
    Generating MATLAB code for A/DependsOnB message type.
    Generating MATLAB code for B/Standalone message type. 
    
    Loading file B-1.0.jar.
     
    Loading file C-1.0.jar.
    Generating MATLAB code for C/DependsOnB message type. 
    
    To use the custom messages, follow these steps:
     
    1. Edit javaclasspath.txt, add the following file locations as new lines, and 
    save the file: 
     
    C:\MATLAB\custom_msgs\matlab_gen\jar\A-1.0.jar
    C:\MATLAB\custom_msgs\matlab_gen\jar\B-1.0.jar
    C:\MATLAB\custom_msgs\matlab_gen\jar\C-1.0.jar
     
    2. Add the custom message folder to the MATLAB path by executing: 
     
    addpath('C:\MATLAB\custom_msgs\matlab_gen\msggen')
    savepath
     
    3. Restart MATLAB and verify that you can use the custom messages. 
       Type "rosmsg list" and ensure that the output contains the generated 
       custom message types. 
    

    Tip

    If you see the following warning

    Objects of *** class exist - not clearing java

    Try either calling rosgenmsg at the beginning of your MATLAB session or make sure that no Java objects are created with any startup functions called.

  • Then, follow steps 1–3 from the output of rosgenmsg.

  1. Click the javaclasspath.txt link to open the file in the Editor. Copy and paste the different jar file locations as new lines in the file. If this file does not exist, you will be prompted to create it. Click Yes and then copy and paste the file locations into the file.

    The javaclasspath.txt looks like this after adding lines. Other paths may also already exist in this file.

  2. Add the given files to the MATLAB path by running addpath and savepath in the command window. You can either highlight the commands shown and press F9 or copy and paste it into the MATLAB Command Window.

    addpath('C:\MATLAB\custom_msgs\matlab_gen\msggen')
    savepath
  3. Restart MATLAB for the path changes to be applied. You can then use the custom messages like any other ROS messages supported in Robotics System Toolbox™. Verify these changes by either calling rosmsg list and search for your message types, or use rosmessage to create a new message.

    custommsg = rosmessage('B/Standalone')
     custommsg = 
    
      ROS Standalone message with properties:
    
          MessageType: 'B/Standalone'
          IntProperty: 0
        StringPropert: ''
    
      Use showdetails to show the contents of the message
    

This final verification shows that you have performed the custom message generation process correctly. You can now send and receive these messages over a ROS network using MATLAB and Simulink®. The new custom messages can be used like normal message types. You should see them create objects specific to their message type and be displayed in your workspace.

custommsg = rosmessage('B/Standalone');
custommsg2 = rosmessage('A/DependsOnB');

Custom messages can also be used with the ROS Simulink blocks.

See Also

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