Developer’s Guide


Bug reports and feature requests

Developer Setup

The rosinstall source can be downloaded using Mercurial:

$ git clone

You will also need vcstools, which you can either install using pip or download using:

$ git clone

$ cd vcstools
$ python develop

To work on the bash completion, there is a separate repository:

$ git clone

That one does not contain python code.

rosinstall uses setuptools, which you will need to download and install in order to run the packaging. We use setuptools instead of distutils in order to be able use setup() keys like install_requires.

Configure your environment:

$ cd rosinstall $ python develop


Install test dependencies

$ pip install nose
$ pip install mock

rosinstall uses Python nose for testing, which is a fairly simple and straightforward test framework. The rosinstall mainly use unittest to construct test fixtures, but with nose you can also just write a function that starts with the name test and use normal assert statements.

rosinstall also uses mock to create mocks for testing.

You can run the tests, including coverage, as follows:

$ cd rosinstall
$ make test


Sphinx is used to provide API documentation for rosinstall. The documents are stored in the doc sub-directory.

You can build the docs as follows:

$ cd rosinstall/doc
$ make html

Inofficial file format

The willow garage build system relies on these two extensions to the rosinstall file format. Basic element types include ‘tar’, and meta properties can be attached.


- svn:
  local-name: rosorg
    repo-name: ros-docs
- tar:
  local-name: foo.tar.bvz2
  version: foo-1.2.0

The meta element has no further semantics to rosinstall, it is just passed through. The tar element is an unsupported but required feature of vcstools, with the peculiar semantics that ‘version’ must refer to a folder inside the tar root.