Chapter 21. Interfaces

Table of Contents

How to Implement Interfaces
URI interface
Color Balance Interface
Video Overlay Interface
Navigation Interface

Previously, in the chapter Adding Properties, we have introduced the concept of GObject properties of controlling an element's behaviour. This is very powerful, but it has two big disadvantages: first of all, it is too generic, and second, it isn't dynamic.

The first disadvantage is related to the customizability of the end-user interface that will be built to control the element. Some properties are more important than others. Some integer properties are better shown in a spin-button widget, whereas others would be better represented by a slider widget. Such things are not possible because the UI has no actual meaning in the application. A UI widget that represents a bitrate property is the same as a UI widget that represents the size of a video, as long as both are of the same GParamSpec type. Another problem, is that things like parameter grouping, function grouping, or parameter coupling are not really possible.

The second problem with parameters are that they are not dynamic. In many cases, the allowed values for a property are not fixed, but depend on things that can only be detected at runtime. The names of inputs for a TV card in a video4linux source element, for example, can only be retrieved from the kernel driver when we've opened the device; this only happens when the element goes into the READY state. This means that we cannot create an enum property type to show this to the user.

The solution to those problems is to create very specialized types of controls for certain often-used controls. We use the concept of interfaces to achieve this. The basis of this all is the glib GTypeInterface type. For each case where we think it's useful, we've created interfaces which can be implemented by elements at their own will.

One important note: interfaces do not replace properties. Rather, interfaces should be built next to properties. There are two important reasons for this. First of all, properties can be more easily introspected. Second, properties can be specified on the commandline (gst-launch).

How to Implement Interfaces

Implementing interfaces is initiated in the _get_type () of your element. You can register one or more interfaces after having registered the type itself. Some interfaces have dependencies on other interfaces or can only be registered by certain types of elements. You will be notified of doing that wrongly when using the element: it will quit with failed assertions, which will explain what went wrong. If it does, you need to register support for that interface before registering support for the interface that you're wanting to support. The example below explains how to add support for a simple interface with no further dependencies.

static void	gst_my_filter_some_interface_init	(GstSomeInterface *iface);

gst_my_filter_get_type (void)
  static GType my_filter_type = 0;
  if (!my_filter_type) {
    static const GTypeInfo my_filter_info = {
      sizeof (GstMyFilterClass),
      (GClassInitFunc) gst_my_filter_class_init,
      sizeof (GstMyFilter),
      (GInstanceInitFunc) gst_my_filter_init
    static const GInterfaceInfo some_interface_info = {
      (GInterfaceInitFunc) gst_my_filter_some_interface_init,

    my_filter_type =
	g_type_register_static (GST_TYPE_ELEMENT,
				&my_filter_info, 0);
    g_type_add_interface_static (my_filter_type,

  return my_filter_type;

static void
gst_my_filter_some_interface_init (GstSomeInterface *iface)
  /* here, you would set virtual function pointers in the interface */

Or more conveniently:

static void	gst_my_filter_some_interface_init	(GstSomeInterface *iface);