Eclipse Cyclone DDS

Eclipse Cyclone DDS is a performant and robust OMG-compliant Data Distribution Service (DDS) implementation (see OMG DDS specification). Cyclone DDS is developed completely in the open as an Eclipse IoT project (see Eclipse Cyclone DDS) with a growing list of adopters. It is a tier-1 middleware for the Robot Operating System ROS 2.

The core of Cyclone DDS is implemented in C and provides C-APIs to applications. Through its C++ package, the DDS ISO/IEC C++ PSM API 2003 language binding is also supported.

About DDS

DDS is the best-kept secret in distributed systems, one that has been around for much longer than most publish-subscribe messaging systems and still outclasses so many of them. DDS is used in a wide variety of systems, including air-traffic control, jet engine testing, railway control, medical systems, naval command-and-control, smart greenhouses and much more. In short, it is well-established in aerospace and defense but no longer limited to that. And yet it is easy to use!

Types are usually defined in IDL and preprocessed with the IDL compiler included in Cyclone, but our Python binding allows you to define data types on the fly:

from dataclasses import dataclass
from cyclonedds.domain import DomainParticipant
from cyclonedds.core import Qos, Policy
from cyclonedds.pub import DataWriter
from cyclonedds.sub import DataReader
from cyclonedds.topic import Topic
from cyclonedds.idl import IdlStruct
from cyclonedds.idl.annotations import key
from time import sleep
import numpy as np
   from names import get_full_name
   name = get_full_name()
   import os
   name = f"{os.getpid()}"

# C, C++ require using IDL, Python doesn't
class Chatter(IdlStruct, typename="Chatter"):
   name: str
   message: str
   count: int

rng = np.random.default_rng()
dp = DomainParticipant()
tp = Topic(dp, "Hello", Chatter, qos=Qos(Policy.Reliability.Reliable(0)))
dw = DataWriter(dp, tp)
dr = DataReader(dp, tp)
count = 0
while True:
   sample = Chatter(name=name, message="Hello, World!", count=count)
   count = count + 1
   print("Writing ", sample)
   for sample in dr.take(10):
      print("Read ", sample)

Today DDS is also popular in robotics and autonomous vehicles because those really depend on high-throughput, low-latency control systems without introducing a single point of failure by having a message broker in the middle. Indeed, it is by far the most used and the default middleware choice in ROS 2. It is used to transfer commands, sensor data and even video and point clouds between components.

The OMG DDS specifications cover everything one needs to build systems using publish-subscribe messaging. They define a structural type system that allows automatic endianness conversion and type checking between readers and writers. This type system also supports type evolution. The interoperable networking protocol and standard C++ API make it easy to build systems that integrate multiple DDS implementations. Zero-configuration discovery is also included in the standard and supported by all implementations.

DDS actually brings more: publish-subscribe messaging is a nice abstraction over “ordinary” networking, but plain publish-subscribe doesn’t affect how one thinks about systems. A very powerful architecture that truly changes the perspective on distributed systems is that of the “shared data space”, in itself an old idea, and really just a distributed database. Most shared data space designs have failed miserably in real-time control systems because they provided strong consistency guarantees and sacrificed too much performance and flexibility. The eventually consistent shared data space of DDS has been very successful in helping with building systems that need to satisfy many “ilities”: dependability, maintainability, extensibility, upgradeability, … Truth be told, that’s why it was invented, and publish-subscribe messaging was simply an implementation technique.

Eclipse Cyclone DDS aims at full coverage of the specs and today already covers most of this. With references to the individual OMG specifications, the following is available:

  • OMG DDS specification the base specification - zero configuration discovery (if multicast works) - publish/subscribe messaging - configurable storage of data in subscribers - many QoS settings - liveliness monitoring, deadlines, historical data, … - coverage includes the Minimum, Ownership and (partially) Content profiles

  • DDS security - providing authentication, access control and encryption


  • DDS XTypes - the structural type system (some [caveats](docs/dev/xtypes_relnotes.md) here)

  • DDSI-RTPS 2.5 - the interoperable network protocol

The network stack in Eclipse Cyclone DDS has been around for over a decade in one form or another and has proven itself in many systems, including large, high-availability ones and systems where inter-operation with other implementations was needed.


“Eclipse Cyclone DDS” and “Cyclone DDS” are trademarks of the Eclipse Foundation.