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Toggle visibility of a link?

asked 2014-12-05 11:47:11 -0600

updated 2015-01-06 17:34:30 -0600

Ideally I could publish a message from ROS that would set the transparency of a specified link to any value.

Would I have to write a custom plugin?

Pursuing the gazebojs approach:

This is using Gazebo 2.2.3

I've gone through

One note is that npm install installs node_modules to the current directory, I moved it to a better location and the require below is the relative path to it::

  var gazebojs = require('./npm/node_modules/gazebojs')
  var gazebo = new gazebojs.Gazebo()
  msg = { "parent_name" : "sensor_head", "name" : "sensor_head_rotation_link", "visible":false };
  gazebo.publish('gazebo.msgs.Visual', '~/Visual', msg);

But the link stays visible. Am I missing something else required to turn the visibility off? I assume leaving out all the optional fields except 'visible' in the protobuf is fine.

If I put garbage into the parent_name or name fields there are no errors. Am I using those fields incorrectly? In the World tab I see Model | sensor_head | sensor_head_rotation_link, the Property for clicking on that shows the name as sensor_head::sensor_head_rotation_link

(I have it correct above but if the msg has a problem it mostly results in an error that crashes node like::

  terminate called after throwing an instance of 'j2pb_error'
    what():  Unknown field: visibility
    Aborted (core dumped)


Pursuing the C++ Approach:

If I use the following code, launch gazebo and create a box called unitbox1, running ./visibility unit_box_1 link still doesn't produce any visual changes.


int main(int argn, char** argv)
  gazebo::setupClient(argn, argv);

  std::string name = "sensor_head_rotation_link";
  std::string parent_name = "sensor_head";

  if (argn >= 3)
    parent_name = argv[1];
    name = argv[2];

  gazebo::transport::NodePtr node(new gazebo::transport::Node());

  // gztopic echo /gazebo/default/visual shows this 
  gazebo::transport::PublisherPtr pub =

  std::cout << "waiting for connection" << std::endl;

  double transparency = 1.0;
  bool visible = true;

  gazebo::msgs::Visual msg; 
  std::cout << "parent " << parent_name << ", name " << name << std::endl;

  while (true)
    //std::cout << "transparency " << transparency << std::endl;

    visible = !visible;
    transparency = 1.0 - transparency;



  return 0;
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4 Answers

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answered 2014-12-05 16:35:23 -0600

nkoenig gravatar image

You can use Gazebo's transport mechanism to publish a visual message to toggle visibility.

Topic: ~/visual

Message Type: gazebo::msgs::Visual

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Is GazeboJS the quickest way to do that as described on ?(python would be nice, I did see but it looks inferior)

Lucas Walter gravatar imageLucas Walter ( 2014-12-05 16:56:08 -0600 )edit

gazebojs would work, or you'd can use the gazebo transport mechansim in a C program.

nkoenig gravatar imagenkoenig ( 2014-12-08 09:39:50 -0600 )edit

I've updated the question above with problems encountered in the gazebojs appraoch.

Lucas Walter gravatar imageLucas Walter ( 2014-12-19 14:52:08 -0600 )edit

The field is called visible, not visibility. See the visual.proto API here

scpeters gravatar imagescpeters ( 2014-12-30 13:13:54 -0600 )edit

Yes, as already noted the wrong field name crashes it, the correct name doesn't crash but didn't produce a visual change.

Lucas Walter gravatar imageLucas Walter ( 2014-12-30 18:01:09 -0600 )edit

I tried out the publishing to ~/visual in a C++ program and could not get a a change to visibility with either visible or transparency. The code is in the updated description above.

Lucas Walter gravatar imageLucas Walter ( 2015-01-06 17:38:09 -0600 )edit

answered 2014-12-30 18:22:08 -0600

scpeters gravatar image

Try setting the transparency field to 0.0 to make it not visible or 1.0 to make it visible. I have used this successfully before (see DRCVehiclePlugin). Note that I did set both the name and parent name.

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Have you tried the GazeboJS method? Transparency doesn't work for me either.

Lucas Walter gravatar imageLucas Walter ( 2015-01-06 15:16:19 -0600 )edit

If C/C++ is the only method that works I'll try that out, can probably be adapted.

Lucas Walter gravatar imageLucas Walter ( 2015-01-06 15:16:40 -0600 )edit

answered 2018-12-18 17:53:54 -0600

AchmadFathoni gravatar image

updated 2018-12-20 08:27:25 -0600


 * @file RandomSpawn.hh
 * @author Achmad Fathoni (
 * @brief Spawn model at random pose inside box
 * @version 0.1
 * @date 2018-11-20
 * @copyright Copyright (c) 2018


#include "gazebo/gazebo.hh"
#include "gazebo/physics/physics.hh"

#include <chrono>
#include <random>
#include <thread>

#include "ros/ros.h"

#include <std_srvs/Empty.h>
#include <exodia_gazebo/toggleInvisible.h>

namespace gazebo{
    class GAZEBO_VISIBLE exodiaRandomSpawn : public ModelPlugin{
            void Load(physics::ModelPtr _parent, sdf::ElementPtr _sdf);
            ros::NodeHandle n;

            ros::ServiceServer toggleInvisible;
            bool toggleInvisibleCb(
                exodia_gazebo::toggleInvisible::Request &req,
                exodia_gazebo::toggleInvisible::Response &res
            physics::ModelPtr parent;

            transport::PublisherPtr visPub;
            transport::NodePtr node;
            msgs::Visual visMsg;



 * @file exodiaRandomSpawn.cpp
 * @author Achmad Fathoni (
 * @brief 
 * @version 0.1
 * @date 2018-12-20
 * @copyright Copyright (c) 2018
#include "gazebo_plugins/exodiaRandomSpawn.hh"

namespace gazebo{
    exodiaRandomSpawn::exodiaRandomSpawn():node(new transport::Node())
        ROS_INFO("Activate invisiblitiy");

    void exodiaRandomSpawn::Load(physics::ModelPtr _parent, sdf::ElementPtr _sdf){
        parent = _parent;
        ROS_INFO("Activate invisiblitiy");
        toggleInvisible = n.advertiseService(
        visPub = node->Advertise<msgs::Visual>("~/visual");

    bool exodiaRandomSpawn::toggleInvisibleCb(
        exodia_gazebo::toggleInvisible::Request &req,
        exodia_gazebo::toggleInvisible::Response &res


        for(auto link : parent->GetLinks()){
            std::string link_name = 
            ROS_INFO("%s", link_name.c_str());

        return true;



bool visible
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answered 2016-07-01 07:05:00 -0600

MhAyman gravatar image

updated 2016-07-01 07:05:52 -0600

this answer might be a bit late, but in case anyone else had the same problem with the 'gazebojs' approach,

var gazebojs = require('./npm/node_modules/gazebojs')
  var gazebo = new gazebojs.Gazebo()
  msg = { "parent_name" : "sensor_head", "name" : "sensor_head_rotation_link", "visible":false };
  gazebo.publish('gazebo.msgs.Visual', '~/Visual', msg);

this script wont work unless it is run from the terminal, Or if you did insert a timeout for example to make it looks like this

var gazebojs = require("gazebojs");
var gazebo = new gazebojs.Gazebo();
setTimeout(()=> {
    gazebo.publish("gazebo.msgs.WorldControl", "~/world_control", { reset: { all: true } });
}, 1000);

This script would work just fine.

this is currently a problem with gazebojs, and it hasn't been solved yet.

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Asked: 2014-12-05 11:47:11 -0600

Seen: 2,479 times

Last updated: Dec 20 '18