Probes

Probes are callbacks that can be installed by the application and will notify the application about the states of the dataflow.

Requirements

Applications should be able to monitor and control the dataflow on pads. We identify the following types:

  • be notified when the pad is/becomes idle and make sure the pad stays idle. This is essential to be able to implement dynamic relinking of elements without breaking the dataflow.

  • be notified when data, events or queries are pushed or sent on a pad. It should also be possible to inspect and modify the data.

  • be able to drop, pass and block on data based on the result of the callback.

  • be able to drop, pass data on blocking pads based on methods performed by the application thread.

Overview

The function gst_pad_add_probe() is used to add a probe to a pad. It accepts a probe type mask and a callback.

    gulong  gst_pad_add_probe    (GstPad *pad,
                                  GstPadProbeType mask,
                                  GstPadProbeCallback callback,
                                  gpointer user_data,
                                  GDestroyNotify destroy_data);

The function returns a gulong that uniquely identifies the probe and that can be used to remove the probe with gst_pad_remove_probe():

    void    gst_pad_remove_probe (GstPad *pad, gulong id);

The mask parameter is a bitwise or of the following flags:

typedef enum
{
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_INVALID          = 0,

  /* flags to control blocking */
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_IDLE             = (1 << 0),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_BLOCK            = (1 << 1),

  /* flags to select datatypes */
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_BUFFER           = (1 << 4),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_BUFFER_LIST      = (1 << 5),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_EVENT_DOWNSTREAM = (1 << 6),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_EVENT_UPSTREAM   = (1 << 7),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_EVENT_FLUSH      = (1 << 8),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_QUERY_DOWNSTREAM = (1 << 9),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_QUERY_UPSTREAM   = (1 << 10),

  /* flags to select scheduling mode */
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_PUSH             = (1 << 12),
  GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_PULL             = (1 << 13),
} GstPadProbeType;

When adding a probe with the IDLE or BLOCK flag, the probe will become a blocking probe (see below). Otherwise the probe will be a DATA probe.

The datatype and scheduling selector flags are used to select what kind of datatypes and scheduling modes should be allowed in the callback.

The blocking flags must match the triggered probe exactly.

The probe callback is defined as:

GstPadProbeReturn (*GstPadProbeCallback) (GstPad *pad, GstPadProbeInfo *info,
    gpointer user_data);

A probe info structure is passed as an argument and its type is guaranteed to match the mask that was used to register the callback. The data item in the info contains type specific data, which is usually the data item that is blocked or NULL when no data item is present.

The probe can return any of the following return values:

typedef enum
{
  GST_PAD_PROBE_DROP,
  GST_PAD_PROBE_OK,
  GST_PAD_PROBE_REMOVE,
  GST_PAD_PROBE_PASS,
  GST_PAD_PROBE_HANDLED
} GstPadProbeReturn;

GST_PAD_PROBE_OK is the normal return value. _DROP will drop the item that is currently being probed. GST_PAD_PROBE_REMOVE: remove the currently executing probe from the list of probes.

GST_PAD_PROBE_PASS is relevant for blocking probes and will temporarily unblock the pad and let the item trough, it will then block again on the next item.

Blocking probes

Blocking probes are probes with BLOCK or IDLE flags set. They will always block the dataflow and trigger the callback according to the following rules:

When the IDLE flag is set, the probe callback is called as soon as no data is flowing over the pad. If at the time of probe registration, the pad is idle, the callback will be called immediately from the current thread. Otherwise, the callback will be called as soon as the pad becomes idle in the streaming thread.

The IDLE probe is useful to perform dynamic linking, it allows to wait for for a safe moment when an unlink/link operation can be done. Since the probe is a blocking probe, it will also make sure that the pad stays idle until the probe is removed.

When the BLOCK flag is set, the probe callback will be called when new data arrives on the pad and right before the pad goes into the blocking state. This callback is thus only called when there is new data on the pad.

The blocking probe is removed with gst_pad_remove_probe() or when the probe callback return GST_PAD_PROBE_REMOVE. In both cases, and if this was the last blocking probe on the pad, the pad is unblocked and dataflow can continue.

Non-Blocking probes

Non-blocking probes or DATA probes are probes triggered when data is flowing over the pad. The are called after the blocking probes are run and always with data.

Push dataflow

Push probes have the GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_PUSH flag set in the callbacks.

In push based scheduling, the blocking probe is called first with the data item. Then the data probes are called before the peer pad chain or event function is called.

The data probes are called before the peer pad is checked. This allows for linking the pad in either the BLOCK or DATA probes on the pad.

Before the peerpad chain or event function is called, the peer pad block and data probes are called.

Finally, the IDLE probe is called on the pad after the data was sent to the peer pad.

The push dataflow probe behavior is the same for buffers and bidirectional events.

                    pad                           peerpad
                     |                               |
gst_pad_push() /     |                               |
gst_pad_push_event() |                               |
-------------------->O                               |
                     O                               |
       flushing?     O                               |
       FLUSHING      O                               |
       < - - - - - - O                               |
                     O-> do BLOCK probes             |
                     O                               |
                     O-> do DATA probes              |
        no peer?     O                               |
       NOT_LINKED    O                               |
       < - - - - - - O                               |
                     O   gst_pad_chain() /           |
                     O   gst_pad_send_event()        |
                     O------------------------------>O
                     O                   flushing?   O
                     O                   FLUSHING    O
                     O< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -O
                     O                               O-> do BLOCK probes
                     O                               O
                     O                               O-> do DATA probes
                     O                               O
                     O                               O---> chainfunc /
                     O                               O     eventfunc
                     O< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -O
                     O                               |
                     O-> do IDLE probes              |
                     O                               |
       < - - - - - - O                               |
                     |                               |

Pull dataflow

Pull probes have the GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_PULL flag set in the callbacks.

The gst_pad_pull_range() call will first trigger the BLOCK probes without a DATA item. This allows the pad to be linked before the peer pad is resolved. It also allows the callback to set a data item in the probe info.

After the blocking probe and the getrange function is called on the peer pad and there is a data item, the DATA probes are called.

When control returns to the sinkpad, the IDLE callbacks are called. The IDLE callback is called without a data item so that it will also be called when there was an error.

If there is a valid DATA item, the DATA probes are called for the item.

                srcpad                          sinkpad
                  |                               |
                  |                               | gst_pad_pull_range()
                  |                               O<---------------------
                  |                               O
                  |                               O  flushing?
                  |                               O  FLUSHING
                  |                               O - - - - - - - - - - >
                  |             do BLOCK probes <-O
                  |                               O   no peer?
                  |                               O  NOT_LINKED
                  |                               O - - - - - - - - - - >
                  |          gst_pad_get_range()  O
                  O<------------------------------O
                  O                               O
                  O flushing?                     O
                  O FLUSHING                      O
                  O- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >O
do BLOCK probes <-O                               O
                  O                               O
 getrangefunc <---O                               O
                  O  flow error?                  O
                  O- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >O
                  O                               O
 do DATA probes <-O                               O
                  O- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >O
                  |                               O
                  |              do IDLE probes <-O
                  |                               O   flow error?
                  |                               O - - - - - - - - - - >
                  |                               O
                  |              do DATA probes <-O
                  |                               O - - - - - - - - - - >
                  |                               |

Queries

Query probes have the GST_PAD_PROBE_TYPE_QUERY_* flag set in the callbacks.

                    pad                           peerpad
                     |                               |
gst_pad_peer_query() |                               |
-------------------->O                               |
                     O                               |
                     O-> do BLOCK probes             |
                     O                               |
                     O-> do QUERY | PUSH probes      |
        no peer?     O                               |
          FALSE      O                               |
       < - - - - - - O                               |
                     O   gst_pad_query()             |
                     O------------------------------>O
                     O                               O-> do BLOCK probes
                     O                               O
                     O                               O-> do QUERY | PUSH probes
                     O                               O
                     O                               O---> queryfunc
                     O                    error      O
       <- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -O
                     O                               O
                     O                               O-> do QUERY | PULL probes
                     O< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -O
                     O                               |
                     O-> do QUERY | PULL probes      |
                     O                               |
       < - - - - - - O                               |
                     |                               |

For queries, the PUSH ProbeType is set when the query is traveling to the object that will answer the query and the PULL type is set when the query contains the answer.

Use-cases

Prerolling a partial pipeline

    .---------.      .---------.                .----------.
    | filesrc |      | demuxer |     .-----.    | decoder1 |
    |        src -> sink      src1 ->|queue|-> sink       src
    '---------'      |         |     '-----'    '----------' X
                     |         |                .----------.
                     |         |     .-----.    | decoder2 |
                     |        src2 ->|queue|-> sink       src
                     '---------'     '-----'    '----------' X

The purpose is to create the pipeline dynamically up to the decoders but not yet connect them to a sink and without losing any data.

To do this, the source pads of the decoders is blocked so that no events or buffers can escape and we don’t interrupt the stream.

When all of the dynamic pad are created (no-more-pads emitted by the branching point, ie, the demuxer or the queues filled) and the pads are blocked (blocked callback received) the pipeline is completely prerolled.

It should then be possible to perform the following actions on the prerolled pipeline:

  • query duration/position

  • perform a flushing seek to preroll a new position

  • connect other elements and unblock the blocked pads.

dynamically switching an element in a PLAYING pipeline

 .----------.      .----------.      .----------.
 | element1 |      | element2 |      | element3 |
...        src -> sink       src -> sink       ...
 '----------'      '----------'      '----------'
                   .----------.
                   | element4 |
                  sink       src
                   '----------'

The purpose is to replace element2 with element4 in the PLAYING pipeline.

  1. block element1 src pad.
  2. inside the block callback nothing is flowing between element1 and element2 and nothing will flow until unblocked.
  3. unlink element1 and element2
  4. optional step: make sure data is flushed out of element2: 4a) pad event probe on element2 src 4b) send EOS to element2, this makes sure that element2 flushes out the last bits of data it holds. 4c) wait for EOS to appear in the probe, drop the EOS. 4d) remove the EOS pad event probe.
  5. unlink element2 and element3 5a) optionally element2 can now be set to NULL and/or removed from the pipeline.
  6. link element4 and element3
  7. link element1 and element4
  8. make sure element4 is in the same state as the rest of the elements. The element should at least be PAUSED.
  9. unblock element1 src

The same flow can be used to replace an element in a PAUSED pipeline. Of course in a PAUSED pipeline there might not be dataflow so the block might not immediately happen.

The results of the search are