Posted on Fr 20 Februar 2009

Tagging Audio Streams

So you are hacking an audio application and the audio data you are generating might eventually end up in PulseAudio before it is played. If that's the case then please make sure to read this!

Here's the quick summary for Gtk+ developers:

PulseAudio can enforce all kinds of policy on sounds. For example, starting in 0.9.15, we will automatically pause your media player while a phone call is going on. To implement this we however need to know what the stream you are sending to PulseAudio should be categorized as: is it music? Is it a movie? Is it game sounds? Is it a phone call stream?

Also, PulseAudio would like to show a nice icon and an application name next to each stream in the volume control. That requires it to be able to deduce this data from the stream.

And here's where you come into the game: please add three lines like the following next to the beginning of your main() function to your Gtk+ application:

g_set_application_name(_("Totem Movie Player"));
g_setenv("PULSE_PROP_media.role", "video", TRUE);

If you do this then the PulseAudio client libraries will be able to figure out the rest for you.

There is more meta information (aka "properties") you can set for your application or for your streams that is useful to PulseAudio. In case you want to know more about them or you are looking for equivalent code to the above example for non-Gtk+ applications, make sure to read the mentioned page.

Thank you!

Oh, and even if your app doesn't do audio, calling g_set_application_name() and gtk_window_set_default_icon_name() is always a good idea!

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