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Test for when a rospy publisher become available

asked 2011-04-06 10:23:05 -0600

baxelrod gravatar image

I noticed that you must sleep for some amount of time before a rospy publisher actually starts to work. I was wondering if there is any way to test for this?

pub = rospy.Publisher('foo', bar)
pub.publish(bar('a'))    # does not publish
pub.publish(bar('b'))    # actually does publish

Will publisher.get_num_connections() do this?

pub = rospy.Publisher('foo', bar)
print pub.get_num_connections() # prints 0
print pub.get_num_connections() # prints 1

In my case it goes from 0 to 1, but will this simply increment by 1 in the general case? And if so, what if this node is started with several other nodes in a launch script? Is this safe to do and will it give me the guarantee I am looking for?

pub = rospy.Publisher('foo', bar)
num = pub.get_num_connections()
while not rospy.is_shutdown() and pub.get_num_connections() == num:
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Would it be sufficient to know when messages have started appearing on the published topic? If so, I have used rospy.wait_for_message(topic, topic_type, timeout=None) to wait for a particular topic to become live before continuing in the script. You can find its documentation at
Pi Robot gravatar image Pi Robot  ( 2011-04-06 11:10:19 -0600 )edit
Interesting, I didn't know about that. But I don't think it will suit my needs for this particular example. Because I would have to spin a loop to publish messages, then also block on this test. I can be done, but it would be really messy.
baxelrod gravatar image baxelrod  ( 2011-04-07 00:40:48 -0600 )edit

2 Answers

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answered 2011-04-08 04:25:40 -0600

kwc gravatar image

Here is my standard response:

There are two ways of communicating in ROS: publish/subscribe and services.

ROS is a publish/subscribe system. Think of it like watching live TV. If you tune in 5 minutes late, you miss the five minutes. There may be infinitely many subscribers, so a publisher can neither wait nor guarantee that every subscriber hears the message. In your program, the subscriber doesn't hear the message because it tunes in after your publisher publishes its first message.

In the ROS system, you are expect to either:

a) keep publishing a message at a certain rate

b) use 'latching', which, like a computer circuit, latches the value on the publisher until it publishes a new message.

If you wish to guarantee a single message is delivered, you should be using services. With services, the service client knows there is only a single service provider. Thus, there is a contract that the service request message will be delivered, or an error will be provided.

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Based on the comments above it sounds like a latched publisher would take care of your needs.
tfoote gravatar image tfoote  ( 2011-04-08 06:36:38 -0600 )edit
Latching the publication seems to do the trick. But I am slightly confused as to why. I thought latching was for if you publish a message then someone subscribes sometime later, they will still get the message. But in this case, someone is already subscribed, and I publish before my publisher is active.
baxelrod gravatar image baxelrod  ( 2011-04-14 03:58:20 -0600 )edit
They have subscribed, but the connection to the publisher can not be initialized until the publisher has been initialized, and then the subscriber contacts it and requests data. Only when all of that is complete can it connect.
tfoote gravatar image tfoote  ( 2011-04-14 06:01:37 -0600 )edit

answered 2020-12-17 21:26:38 -0600

junya gravatar image

I uses following magic to get publisher. This waits until the number of subscribers assigned to publisher would be same as number of subscribers registered to ros master.

def get_publisher(self, topic_path, msg_type, **kwargs):
    pub = rospy.Publisher(topic_path, msg_type, **kwargs)
    num_subs = len(_get_subscribers(topic_path))
    for i in range(10):
        num_cons = pub.get_num_connections()
        if num_cons == num_subs:
            return pub
    raise RuntimeError("failed to get publisher")

def _get_subscribers(self, topic_path):
    ros_master = rosgraph.Master('/rostopic')
    topic_path = rosgraph.names.script_resolve_name('rostopic', topic_path)
    state = ros_master.getSystemState()
    subs = []
    for sub in state[1]:
        if sub[0] == topic_path:
    return subs
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Asked: 2011-04-06 10:23:05 -0600

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Last updated: Dec 17 '20