My exploits at Collabora Multimedia currently involve a brief detour into hacking on Rygel, specifically improving the DLNA profile name guessing. We wanted to use Edward‘s work on GstDiscoverer work, and Rygel is written in Vala, so the first thing to do was write Vala bindings for GstDiscoverer. This turned out to be somewhat easier and more difficult than initially thought. :)

There’s a nice tutorial for generating Vala bindings that serves as a good starting point. The process basically involves running a tool called vapigen, which examines your headers and libraries, and generates a GIR file from them (it’s an XML file describing your GObject-based API). It then converts this GIR file into a “VAPI” file which describes the API in a format that Vala can understand. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Now if only it were that simple :). The introspected file is not perfect, which means you need to manually annotate some bits to make sure the generated VAPI accurately represents the C API. These annotations are specified in a metadata file. You need to include things like “the string returned by this function must be freed by the caller” (that’s a transfer_ownership), or, object type Foo is derived from object type FooDaddy (specified using the base_class directive). Not all these directives are documented, so you might need to grok around the sources (specifically, vapigen/valagidlparser.vala) and ask on IRC (#vala on

All said and done, the process really is quite straightforward. The work is in [my gst-convenience repository][arun-gst-conv-ks.git] right now (should be merged with the main repository soon). I really must thank all the folks on #vala who helped me with all the questions and some of the bugs that I discovered. Saved me a lot of frustration!

I’ve already got Rygel using these bindings, though that’s not been integrated yet. More updates in days to come.