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Method does not return after subscription - EDIT : ROS shutdowns after ros::spinOnce()

asked 2016-05-08 17:23:13 -0500

janindu gravatar image

updated 2016-05-08 22:26:30 -0500

I am drawing waypoints on a map. I have a MapViewer class with the following constructor.

// MapViewer default constructor
MapViewer::MapViewer(std::queue<geometry_msgs::PointStamped::ConstPtr>* waypointQueue) {
  this->waypointQueue = waypointQueue;
  this->waypointColor = cv::Scalar(0,0,255);
  this->pathColor = cv::Scalar(0,255,0);
  this->mapFile = getenv("TURTLEBOT_NAVIGATION_MAP");
  this->waypointFile = getenv("TURTLEBOT_WAYPOINT_FILE");
  // TODO : Exception handling

My setMapMetaData method looks like this

// Get map meta data from /map_metadata topic (one time thing)
void MapViewer::setMapMetaData() {
  ros::NodeHandle n;
  ros::Subscriber sub = n.subscribe(
  return; // I don't think this return is necessary

My subscriber callback looks like this.

void MapViewer::mapMetaDataCb(const nav_msgs::MapMetaData::ConstPtr& mapMetaData) {
  this->mapMetaData = *mapMetaData;
  ROS_INFO("Map metadata set");

And when I run this, my output looks like this.

[ INFO] [1462745271.217146294]: Initializing ROS...
[ INFO] [1462745271.221878557]: 1
[ INFO] [1462745271.228107221]: 2
[ INFO] [1462745271.228156984]: 3

The "Initializing ROS..." comes from the main method. The problem is even though "3" is logged, "4" never is!!! Maybe I am missing something obvious but I have no clue as to what it is. Obviously since "3" is printed, ros::spinOnce must have returned. But apparently setMapMetaData has not returned.

Can someone help me figure out what I am missing?


The method actually returns. Instead of ROS_INFO("4"), when I use std::cout << 4 << std::endl; it prints 4. The issue is (as a friend explained to me) that ROS is killed when I call spinOne() only once and stop calling it again.

I solved the problem by changing the setMapMetaData method to

// Get map meta data from /map_metadata topic (one time thing)
void MapViewer::setMapMetaData() {
  ROS_INFO("Subscribing to topic %s", MapViewer::MAP_METADATA_TOPIC.c_str());
  ros::NodeHandle n;
  ros::Subscriber sub = n.subscribe(

  while(!this->mapMetaDataSet) {
    // Block until map metadata is set

And executed it in a separate thread after MapViewer instance was created. Because I subscribe to another topic in a different class (which calls ros::spin() ), the mapMetaDataCb() is also executed at that point.

I am not accepting this as an answer because I need to figure out why ROS is killed when I don't call spinOnce() anymore and how to counter it. Appreciate if you could shed some light into this.

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answered 2016-05-08 21:03:35 -0500

janindu gravatar image

I figured the answer myself. Quoting roscpp wiki , "When the first ros::NodeHandle is created it will call ros::start(), and when the last ros::NodeHandle is destroyed, it will call ros::shutdown()."

So in the first case, when the setMapMetaData() method returns, the NodeHandler n gets destroyed, because it's created within the scope of the method. Since there are no other NodeHandlers created at that moment, ros::shutdown() is called.

In the second case, the method does not return until mapMetaDataSet = true which happens when the callback function is executed. The callback function executes when ros::spin() is called from another class. Then the method returns and the local NodeHandler n is destroyed BUT now there is another NodeHandler created for the same node. Hence ros::shutdown() is not called at that point.

I guess my current implementation, even though it works, is not exactly the best way to get this done. Might do well to use a single NodeHandler that can be passed as an argument to subscribers / publishers etc.

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Also keep in mind that the subscriber callbacks will stop when the ros::Subscriber object goes out of scope and is destructed.

ahendrix gravatar image ahendrix  ( 2016-05-09 03:02:22 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2016-05-08 17:23:13 -0500

Seen: 180 times

Last updated: May 08 '16