This chapter of the guide introduces the basic concepts of GStreamer. Understanding these concepts will be important in reading any of the rest of this guide, all of them assume understanding of these basic concepts.
An element is the most important class of objects in GStreamer. You will usually create a chain of elements linked together and let data flow through this chain of elements. An element has one specific function, which can be the reading of data from a file, decoding of this data or outputting this data to your sound card (or anything else). By chaining together several such elements, you create a pipeline that can do a specific task, for example media playback or capture. GStreamer ships with a large collection of elements by default, making the development of a large variety of media applications possible. If needed, you can also write new elements. That topic is explained in great deal in the GStreamer Plugin Writer's Guide.