Linking elements

By linking a source element with zero or more filter-like elements and finally a sink element, you set up a media pipeline. Data will flow through the elements. This is the basic concept of media handling in GStreamer.

Figure 5.5. Visualisation of three linked elements

Visualisation of three linked elements

By linking these three elements, we have created a very simple chain of elements. The effect of this will be that the output of the source element (element1) will be used as input for the filter-like element (element2). The filter-like element will do something with the data and send the result to the final sink element (element3).

Imagine the above graph as a simple Ogg/Vorbis audio decoder. The source is a disk source which reads the file from disc. The second element is a Ogg/Vorbis audio decoder. The sink element is your soundcard, playing back the decoded audio data. We will use this simple graph to construct an Ogg/Vorbis player later in this manual.

In code, the above graph is written like this:

#include <gst/gst.h>

main (int   argc,
      char *argv[])
  GstElement *pipeline;
  GstElement *source, *filter, *sink;

  /* init */
  gst_init (&argc, &argv);

  /* create pipeline */
  pipeline = gst_pipeline_new ("my-pipeline");

  /* create elements */
  source = gst_element_factory_make ("fakesrc", "source");
  filter = gst_element_factory_make ("identity", "filter");
  sink = gst_element_factory_make ("fakesink", "sink");

  /* must add elements to pipeline before linking them */
  gst_bin_add_many (GST_BIN (pipeline), source, filter, sink, NULL);

  /* link */
  if (!gst_element_link_many (source, filter, sink, NULL)) {
    g_warning ("Failed to link elements!");



For more specific behaviour, there are also the functions gst_element_link () and gst_element_link_pads (). You can also obtain references to individual pads and link those using various gst_pad_link_* () functions. See the API references for more details.

Important: you must add elements to a bin or pipeline before linking them, since adding an element to a bin will disconnect any already existing links. Also, you cannot directly link elements that are not in the same bin or pipeline; if you want to link elements or pads at different hierarchy levels, you will need to use ghost pads (more about ghost pads later).