libao documentation

libao version 0.8.0 - 20010804

libao Plugin Writer's Overview

Plugins are drivers that are loaded dynamically when libao is first initialized by the client application. Drivers that are operating system dependent, like the oss and sun drivers, or that depend on external libraries, like the esd driver, must be implemented as plugins in order to keep binary packagers happy. There are also statically linked drivers, which are written in a nearly identical way, but won't be covered here. In nearly all cases, a dynamically loadable plugin is the preferred way to write a driver, and the required way if the driver depends upon any external libraries.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a plugin is:

  • When libao is first initialized, it loads all of the plugins from disk.
  • Libao then tests each plugin to see if can be used as the default driver.
  • When the user opens a device, libao will:
  • Each time the client app calls ao_play(), the library will reorder the byte format (little-endian vs. big-endian) to match the format requested by the plugin. The library will then call ao_plugin_play() for the block of audio data.
  • When the client app closes the audio device, the library calls ao_plugin_close() to close the device, followed by a call to ao_plugin_device_clear() to deallocate the private data structures.
  • When the library is shutdown, the plugin will be unloaded from memory.
In case of errors, ao_plugin_device_clear() will always be called if ao_plugin_device_init() executed successfully. Similarly, ao_plugin_close() will always be called if ao_plugin_open() executed successfully.

Creating a New Plugin

In order to write a new plugin, follow these steps:

  • Decide upon a new short name for your plugin. It should be less than 8 characters and contain only alphanumeric characters (underscores are okay, but discouraged).
  • Make a new directory in the src/plugins directory with the short name of your plugin.
  • Copy the contents of one of the other plugin directories into your directory. The Sun driver is a good example of a driver that uses system devices for output, and the ALSA driver is a good example of a plugin that uses an external library. Rename the source file to ao_shortname.c, where "shortname" is the short name of your plugin.
  • Edit the ao_info structure.
  • Implement the all of the methods defined in the plugin API.
  • Edit the files ("shortname" is as described above):, src/plugins/, src/plugins/shortname/ There should be a an configure option to disable your plugin. Look at the existing file for examples of how to do this.
  • Test it thoroughly! :)
  • Send a tarball of the src/plugin/shortname directory (only this directory, please!) and a cvs diff -u of the changes you have made to the vorbis-dev list and we'll take a look at it for inclusion.

API Implementation Tips

copyright © 2001 Stan Seibert

libao documentation

libao version 0.8.0 - 20010804