The Future of the ROS Infrastructure Ecosystem

A Workshop at ROSCon 2019

October 30th, 14:00 to 17:00

The community infrastructure on which ROS depends, like the wiki, Answers, and our community standards, are starting to show their age. This is your chance to help improve this infrastructure, and help ensure that ROS continues to thrive. In the workshop, we'll describe the results of our NSF-funded work to identify pain points and hear ideas that have worked in other open-source communities. We will work as a group to come up with good solutions to these problems, and make a start on a proposal to the NSF to implement them. This will be a "working workshop", where we come together as a group to identify problems, propose solutions, and form a plan for moving forward.

We'll be soliciting contributions for the workshop, in the form of short talks and experience reports. Details will appear here shortly.

Background and Goals

We have a planning award from NSF that is supporting a needs-finding exercise in the larger robotics community. Part of this is a set of questionnaires that were administered at ICRA 2019 and RSS 2019, with plans for more on-line, and at ROSCon 2019 and IROS 2019. The idea behind these questionnaires is to get a better idea of how well the ROS community infrastructure is doing, from as wide a perspective as possible. While we can capture opinions of core ROS users on Discourse and other similar venues, this is now a smaller subset of the wider ROS community. The stated goal of the planning award is to write a full proposal to NSF, to be submitted in 2020, that would support the development of a new generation of infrastructure, to fix the problems that we identify, and support ROS 2 going forward.

Our goal with this workshop is to engage the core ROS community in this process. We will present the findings of the surveys (ahead of time, and in summary at the workshop), and identify the core problems that people in the community have identified with the current infrastructure. We'll then have a working session where we work as a group to come up with potential solutions to these problems, and to evaluate existing solutions that have come out the initial analysis. The idea is to draw on the experience of the people at the workshop, with ROS and other open-source communities, to come up with a viable set of approaches that for a plan for strengthening the ROS infrastructure for the future. In addition to a plan, we're looking to begin to grow a community of people interested in actually implementing this plan.


Bill Smart, Oregon State University,

Proposed Agenda

  • Introduction (15 mins): Describe the NSF award, the context of the workshop, and the goals.
  • Results: (15 mins): Present a summary of the analysis of the surveys to date (on-line, ICRA, RSS), and identify the concerns highlighted by the larger ROS community.
  • Suggestions: (30 mins): Invite workshop participants to present solutions and ideas, ideally drawn from their experience or other open-source communities, that address some of the concerns raised. We will invite participants ahead of the workshop, so that they have time to digest the initial results and to come up with potential solutions.
  • Working session (80 mins): We will break into smaller working groups, each focused on coming up with a list of candidate solutions for one (or a small number) of identified concerns.
  • Reports (25 mins): Each group will provide a short summary report on their proposed solutions, and we'll discuss them as a group.
  • Wrap-up (15 mins): Summarize the major ideas that have come out of the workshop, figure out who wants to be involved going forwards, and assign homework.