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Consuming a ROS Package

The ROS community has many thousands of packages which cover different aspects of building a Robot. Many packages have been ported by the community or build on Windows without modification.

Is the package already available?

To consume a ROS package, we recommend the following workflow:

Binary Installation

Determine if there is a binary release of the ROS package.

  • Using ROS Wiki ↗, locate the binary release name and attempt to install using Chocolatey.
  • If this succeeds, then you are all set!
    choco install ros-melodic-<package_name>

Source Installation

If there isn't a binary release, determine if there is a source only distribution. Here is an example workflow how to create a workspace to test the availability:

:: activate the ROS environment

:: create a empty workspace
mkdir c:\catkin_ws\src
cd c:\catkin_ws

:: generate the released package sources list and its ROS dependencies
:: you can customize the command line to checkout the sources from different channels
:: see the tips section for more details
rosinstall_generator <package_name> --deps --exclude RPP --tar --flat > pkg.rosinstall

:: you can manually edit the pkg.rosinstall for more customizations.
:: see the tips section for more details

:: checkout the sources for real
vcs import --force src < pkg.rosinstall

:: attempt to acquire the external dependencies
rosdep update
rosdep install --from-paths src --ignore-src -r -y

:: now catkin make to build the workspace

If everything goes well, now you can activate the development space - by calling devel/setup.bat - and use the package.

:: activate the development space

:: test the new package is discoverable
rospack find <package_name>

Tips for Source Installation

If something has not successfully been built, you can try to the following steps:

  • If a Windows port has not yet been released, you can repeat Soruce Installation but ask rosinstall_generator to use the development branch this time.

    :: use the development branch
    rosinstall_generator <package> --upstream-development --deps --exclude RPP > pkg.rosinstall

  • If using the upstream development branch doesn't help, you can edit pkg.rosinstall to switch the version: of the broken package to other branch, like windows or init_windows, if it exists.

  • In addition to consuming the upstream repositories, you can check to see if Microsoft's ms-iot Github organization has a fork of that project and is working on a port. If it does, you can edit pkg.rosinstall to point uri: to the different fork.

  • For the package not registered to the ROS distributions, you can manually create a .rosinstall file to maintain a list of repositories to consume.

  • ROS Wiki or ROS Index are also good resources to search for the package repository.


If the package has not been enabled on Windows, please create an issue on the ROS package's project page asking for Windows to be supported.

If you are able, please consider enabling the ROS package on Windows and submitting a pull request to the original repository. Porting a ROS Package is a good resource to learn the how-to.