C++ catkin library dependencies

Catkin libraries are provided by ROS packages whether you install them from Ubuntu packages or build from source.

When your package depends on a catkin C++ library, there are usually several kinds of dependencies which must be declared in your package.xml and CMakeLists.txt files.


Your package dependencies are declared in package.xml. If they are missing or incorrect, you may be able to build from source and run tests in your own workspace, but your package will not work correctly when released to the ROS community. Others rely on this information to install the software they need for using your package.

The <build_depend> declares packages needed for building your programs, including development files like headers, libraries and configuration files. For each build dependency, specify the ROS package name:


The <run_depend> declares two different types of package dependencies.

One is for shared libraries, executables, Python modules, launch scripts and other files required for running your package.

The second is for transitive build dependencies. A common example is when one of your dependencies provides a header file included in some header exported from your package. Even if your package does not use that header when building itself, other packages depending on your header will require those transitive dependencies when they are built.

In either case, declare the dependency this way:


Most existing ROS packages combine their build and run-time files within a single package.


CMake does not know about package.xml dependencies, although catkin does. For your code to compile, the CMakeLists.txt must explicitly declare how to resolve all of your header and library references.

Finding the library

First, CMake needs to find the library. For catkin dependencies, this is easy:

find_package(catkin REQUIRED COMPONENTS roscpp)

This find_package() call defines CMake variables that will be needed later for the compile and linkedit steps. List all additional catkin dependencies in the same command:

find_package(catkin REQUIRED COMPONENTS roscpp std_msgs tf)

Include directories

Before compiling, collect all the header paths you found earlier:

include_directories(include ${catkin_INCLUDE_DIRS})

The include parameter is needed only if that subdirectory of your package contains headers used to compile your programs.

Exporting interfaces

You must declare the library and header packages needed by all the interfaces you export to other ROS packages:

catkin_package(CATKIN_DEPENDS roscpp std_msgs tf)

The catkin_package() command is only called once. It may need additional parameters, depending on what else your package exports.

Next steps

If your package also depends on non-catkin libraries provided by the operating system, you must provide C++ system library dependencies, too.

Then, you are ready for Building and installing C++ libraries and headers and Building and installing C++ executables.