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Currently I'm trying to learn how to model robots for use in ROS but the tutorials I find for creating URDF files like in both the official ROS wiki(http://wiki.ros.org/urdf/Tutorials/Building%20a%20Visual%20Robot%20Model%20with%20URDF%20from%20Scratch) and YouTube show modeling robots by manually editing their geometry in an XML file. Is there software for modeling the URDF robot like in CAD or at least a list of shortcuts to cut-down time for manually re-compiling XML files over and over again to move stuff into the right positions/rotations?


Originally posted by rydb on ROS Answers with karma: 125 on 2020-04-05

Post score: 0

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Is there software for modeling the URDF robot like in CAD or at least a list of shortcuts to cut-down time for manually re-compiling XML files over and over again to move stuff into the right positions/rotations?

To each his own, but after you get a bit more comfortable with it, being able to simply load a text file (xml is essentially just text) into an editor and quickly tweak a constant (ie: length of a link, rotation of an axis) here and there is actually really convenient.

Note: I'm not saying there aren't legitimate use-cases for wanting to use a CAD program, but it's a rather large overhead to have to start it all up, change something, save, export, copy over, etc. @Teo Cardoso already mentioned some of the plugins for some CAD tools you could use.

Having written all of that: you could take a look at the ROS plugin for VSCode. It has support for almost live preview of URDF/XACRO while you're editing it (screenshot from here):

VSCode ROS plugin URDF preview

You'd still be editing text, but it would cut down on the iteration that seems to be your biggest annoyance.


Originally posted by gvdhoorn with karma: 86574 on 2020-04-06

This answer was ACCEPTED on the original site

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Original comments

Comment by rydb on 2020-04-06:
Live compiling with VS code would defiantly make editing require alot less key-presses then what I do atm, I'll try this out!

Comment by rydb on 2020-04-06:
This works really well! XML editing changes are near instant!

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