Initializing GStreamer

When writing a GStreamer application, you can simply include gst/gst.h to get access to the library functions. Besides that, you will also need to initialize the GStreamer library.

Simple initialization

Before the GStreamer libraries can be used, gst_init has to be called from the main application. This call will perform the necessary initialization of the library as well as parse the GStreamer-specific command line options.

A typical program [1] would have code to initialize GStreamer that looks like this:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <gst/gst.h>

main (int   argc,
      char *argv[])
  const gchar *nano_str;
  guint major, minor, micro, nano;

  gst_init (&argc, &argv);

  gst_version (&major, &minor, &micro, &nano);

  if (nano == 1)
    nano_str = "(CVS)";
  else if (nano == 2)
    nano_str = "(Prerelease)";
    nano_str = "";

  printf ("This program is linked against GStreamer %d.%d.%d %s\n",
          major, minor, micro, nano_str);

  return 0;

Use the GST_VERSION_MAJOR, GST_VERSION_MINOR and GST_VERSION_MICRO macros to get the GStreamer version you are building against, or use the function gst_version to get the version your application is linked against. GStreamer currently uses a scheme where versions with the same major and minor versions are API- and ABI-compatible.

It is also possible to call the gst_init function with two NULL arguments, in which case no command line options will be parsed by GStreamer.

The GOption interface

You can also use a GOption table to initialize your own parameters as shown in the next example:

#include <gst/gst.h>

main (int   argc,
      char *argv[])
  gboolean silent = FALSE;
  gchar *savefile = NULL;
  GOptionContext *ctx;
  GError *err = NULL;
  GOptionEntry entries[] = {
    { "silent", 's', 0, G_OPTION_ARG_NONE, &silent,
      "do not output status information", NULL },
    { "output", 'o', 0, G_OPTION_ARG_STRING, &savefile,
      "save xml representation of pipeline to FILE and exit", "FILE" },
    { NULL }

  ctx = g_option_context_new ("- Your application");
  g_option_context_add_main_entries (ctx, entries, NULL);
  g_option_context_add_group (ctx, gst_init_get_option_group ());
  if (!g_option_context_parse (ctx, &argc, &argv, &err)) {
    g_print ("Failed to initialize: %s\n", err->message);
    g_clear_error (&err);
    g_option_context_free (ctx);
    return 1;
  g_option_context_free (ctx);

  printf ("Run me with --help to see the Application options appended.\n");

  return 0;

As shown in this fragment, you can use a GOption table to define your application-specific command line options, and pass this table to the GLib initialization function along with the option group returned from the function gst_init_get_option_group. Your application options will be parsed in addition to the standard GStreamer options.

  1. The code for this example is automatically extracted from the documentation and built under tests/examples/manual in the GStreamer tarball.

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