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Directory structure#

This document describes the directory structure of ROS nodes within Autoware.

We'll use the package autoware_gnss_poser as an example.

C++ package#

Entire structure#

  • This is a reference on how the entire package might be structured.
  • A package may not have all the directories shown here.
├─ package.xml
├─ CMakeLists.txt
├─ config
│   ├─ gnss_poser.param.yaml
│   └─ another_non_ros_config.yaml
├─ schema
│   └─ gnss_poser.schema.json
├─ doc
│   ├─
│   └─ foo_diagram.svg
├─ include  # for exporting headers
│   └─ autoware
│       └─ gnss_poser
│           └─ exported_header.hpp
├─ src
│   ├─ include
│   │   ├─ gnss_poser_node.hpp
│   │   └─ foo.hpp
│   ├─ gnss_poser_node.cpp
│   └─ bar.cpp
├─ launch
│   ├─ gnss_poser.launch.xml
│   └─
└─ test
    ├─ test_foo.hpp  # or place under an `include` folder here
    └─ test_foo.cpp

Package name#

  • All the packages in Autoware should be prefixed with autoware_.
  • Even if the package is exports a node, the package name should NOT have the _node suffix.
  • The package name should be in snake_case.
Package Name OK Alternative
path_smoother autoware_path_smoother
autoware_trajectory_follower_node autoware_trajectory_follower
autoware_geography_utils -

Package folder#

├─ package.xml
├─ CMakeLists.txt

The package folder name should be the same as the package name.


  • The package name should be entered within the <name> tag.
    • <name>autoware_gnss_poser</name>


  • The project() command should call the package name.
    • Example: project(autoware_gnss_poser)
Exporting a composable node component executables#

For best practices and system efficiency, it is recommended to primarily use composable node components.

This method facilitates easier deployment and maintenance within ROS environments.

ament_auto_add_library(${PROJECT_NAME} SHARED

  PLUGIN "autoware::gnss_poser::GNSSPoserNode"
  • If you are building:
    • only a single composable node component, the executable name should start with ${PROJECT_NAME}
    • multiple composable node components, the executable name is up to the developer.
  • All composable node component executables should have the _node suffix.
Exporting a standalone node executable without composition (discouraged for most cases)#

Use of standalone executables should be limited to cases where specific needs such as debugging or tooling are required.

Exporting a composable node component executables is generally preferred for standard operational use due its flexibility and scalability within the ROS ecosystem.


  • src/gnss_poser.cpp has the GNSSPoserNode class.
  • src/gnss_poser_node.cpp has the main function.
  • There is no composable node component registration.
ament_auto_add_library(${PROJECT_NAME} SHARED

ament_auto_add_executable(${PROJECT_NAME}_node src/gnss_poser_node.cpp)
  • The node executable:
    • should have _node suffix.
    • should start with `${PROJECT_NAME}

config and schema#

│─ config
│   ├─ gnss_poser.param.yaml
│   └─ another_non_ros_config.yaml
└─ schema
    └─ gnss_poser.schema.json


  • ROS parameters uses the extension .param.yaml.
  • Non-ROS parameters use the extension .yaml.

Rationale: Different linting rules are used for ROS parameters and non-ROS parameters.


Place parameter definition files. See Parameters for details.


└─ doc
    └─ foo_diagram.svg

Place documentation files and link them from the README file.

include and src#

  • Unless you specifically need to export headers, you shouldn't have a include directory under the package directory.
  • For most cases, follow Not exporting headers.
  • Library packages that export headers may follow Exporting headers.

Not exporting headers#

└─ src
    ├─ include
    │   ├─ gnss_poser_node.hpp
    │   └─ foo.hpp
    │─ gnss_poser_node.cpp
    └─ bar.cpp


└─ src
    ├─ gnss_poser_node.hpp
    ├─ gnss_poser_node.cpp
    ├─ foo.hpp
    └─ bar.cpp
  • The source file exporting the node should:
    • have _node suffix.
      • Rationale: To distinguish from other source files.
    • NOT have autoware_ prefix.
      • Rationale: To avoid verbosity.
  • See Classes for more details on how to construct gnss_poser_node.hpp and gnss_poser_node.cpp files.
  • It is up to developer how to organize the source files under src.
    • Note: The include folder under src is optional.

Exporting headers#

└─ include
    └─ autoware
        └─ gnss_poser
            └─ exported_header.hpp
  • autoware_gnss_poser/include folder should contain ONLY the autoware folder.
    • Rationale: When installing ROS debian packages, the headers are copied to the /opt/ros/$ROS_DISTRO/include/ directory. This structure is used to avoid conflicts with non-Autoware packages.
  • autoware_gnss_poser/include/autoware folder should contain ONLY the gnss_poser folder.
    • Rationale: Similarly, this structure is used to avoid conflicts with other packages.
  • autoware_gnss_poser/include/autoware/gnss_poser folder should contain the header files to be exported.

Note: If ament_auto_package() command is used in the CMakeLists.txt file and autoware_gnss_poser/include folder exists, this include folder will be exported to the install folder as part of ament_auto_package.cmake



└─ launch
    ├─ gnss_poser.launch.xml
  • You may have multiple launch files here.
  • Unless you have a specific reason, use the .launch.xml extension.
    • Rationale: While the extension is more flexible, it comes with a readability cost.
  • Avoid autoware_ prefix in the launch file names.
    • Rationale: To avoid verbosity.


└─ test
    ├─ test_foo.hpp  # or place under an `include` folder here
    └─ test_foo.cpp

Place source files for testing. See unit testing for details.

Python package#


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