In 2008, the ROS wiki was exactly the tool that the then-small ROS community needed. A central chalkboard on which all of the ROS developers could write documentation, create tutorials, and even perform design reviews on ROS packages (yes those used to happen).

The ROS wiki has not aged well.

In 2015, however, the ROS wiki has not aged well, and software development practices have further evolved. It's plagued by slow page-load times, a still-unsatisfying search, and a pervasive lack of synchronization between documentation and source code. These issues make using the wiki hard, and transitively, they make using ROS hard.

Back when ROS was first being developed, Subversion was the version control system of choice, and as such, it was more onerous to incorporate contributions from outside of the vetted group of ROS developers. Even when ROS moved to a collection of Git and Mercurial repositories on the now-defunct ROS KForge, there was no support for Pull or Merge Requests to easily accept contributions from third-party developers.

The majority of ROS source code now resides in distributed version control systems like Git and Mercurial, and "social coding" sites like GitHub and Bitbucket have revolutionized open-source development patterns. These new patterns enable us to put documentation right alongside source code without making it too hard for users to contribute back.

I don't know if it's right and I don't want to change it if it might screw up other people.

- Anonymous Graduate Student

Furthermore, by re-coupling documentation to the source packages, students can feel secure in contributing pull requests which will necessarily get reviewed before they can be merged into a repository's official documentation.

Enter ROS Index.

ROS Index aims to be the definitive index of all ROS software. It aims to do this not only by indexing all known ROS packages listed in rosdistro, but also by including relevant forks of known ROS packages, and by encouraging people to add their packages to the index no matter how volatile or buggy they are.

ROS Index also aims to better summarize the pulse of the ROS development community with statistics and the ability to list the most recently updated ROS repositories.

ROS Index emphasizes the documentation included in each repository's and ROS package's README, and will encourage developers to augment their package manifests with additional metadata including tutorials and ROS node, library, and plugin APIs.

So explore, click around, and of course feel free to contribute. If you run into a bug or something confusing at any point, feel free to click the BETA button next to the logo at the top of each page to create a new issue on GitHub.