8.2. Capabilities of a pad

Since the pads play a very important role in how the element is viewed by the outside world, a mechanism is implemented to describe the data that can flow or currently flows through the pad by using capabilities. Here, we will briefly describe what capabilities are and how to use them, enough to get an understanding of the concept. For an in-depth look into capabilities and a list of all capabilities defined in GStreamer, see the Plugin Writers Guide.

Capabilities are attached to pad templates and to pads. For pad templates, it will describe the types of media that may stream over a pad created from this template. For pads, it can either be a list of possible caps (usually a copy of the pad template's capabilities), in which case the pad is not yet negotiated, or it is the type of media that currently streams over this pad, in which case the pad has been negotiated already.

8.2.1. Dissecting capabilities

A pads capabilities are described in a GstCaps object. Internally, a GstCaps will contain one or more GstStructure that will describe one media type. A negotiated pad will have capabilities set that contain exactly one structure. Also, this structure will contain only fixed values. These constraints are not true for unnegotiated pads or pad templates.

As an example, below is a dump of the capabilities of the "vorbisdec" element, which you will get by running gst-inspect vorbisdec. You will see two pads: a source and a sink pad. Both of these pads are always available, and both have capabilities attached to them. The sink pad will accept vorbis-encoded audio data, with the mime-type "audio/x-vorbis". The source pad will be used to send raw (decoded) audio samples to the next element, with a raw audio mime-type (in this case, "audio/x-raw-int") The source pad will also contain properties for the audio samplerate and the amount of channels, plus some more that you don't need to worry about for now.


Pad Templates:
  SRC template: 'src'
    Availability: Always
    Capabilities:
      audio/x-raw-float
                   rate: [ 8000, 50000 ]
               channels: [ 1, 2 ]
             endianness: 1234
                  width: 32
          buffer-frames: 0
 
  SINK template: 'sink'
    Availability: Always
    Capabilities:
      audio/x-vorbis
      

8.2.2. Properties and values

Properties are used to describe extra information for capabilities. A property consists of a key (a string) and a value. There are different possible value types that can be used: