Libav 10 – release

New release

After several months spent finalizing, we are now pleased to announce the release of Libav 10.

One of the main features of this release is the addition of reference-counted data buffers to Libav and their use in various structures. Specifically, the data buffers used by AVPacket and AVFrame can now be reference counted, which should allow to significantly simplify many use cases. In addition, reference-counted AVFrames> can now be used in libavfilter, avoiding the need for a separate libavfilter-specific frame structure. Frames can now be passed straight from the decoders into filters or from filters to encoders.

These additions made it necessary to bump the major versions of libavcodec, libavformat, libavdevice, libavfilter, and libavutil, which was accompanied by dropping some old deprecated APIs. These libraries are thus not ABI- or API- compatible with the previous release. All the other libraries (libavresample and libswscale) remain ABI- and API-compatible.

Another major point is the inclusion of the HEVC (AKA H.265, the successor of H.264) decoder in the main codebase. It was started in 2012 as a Libav Google Summer of Code project by Guillaume Martres and subsequently completed with the assistance of the OpenHEVC project and several Libav developers.

As usual, this release also contains support for other new formats, many smaller new features and countless bug fixes. We can highlight a native VP9 decoder, with encoding provided through libvpx, native decoders for WebP, JPEG 2000, and AIC, as well as improved WavPack support with encoding through libwavpack, support for more AAC flavors (LD – low delay, ELD – enhanced low delay), slice multithreading in libavfilter, or muxing chapters in ASF. Furthermore a few new filters have been introduced, namely compand, to change audio dynamics, framepack, to create stereoscopic videos, asetpts, to set audio pts, and interlace, to convert progressive video to interlaced. Finally there is more fine-grained detection of host and target libc, which should allow better portability to various cross compilation scenarios.

See the Changelog file for a fuller list of significant changes.

You can download the new release, as usual, from our download page.

Release 10 took a lot of time to get out, mostly due the fact we spent lots of time to help downstream to adapt to the new API and we tried our best to provide patches to most of the projects we were aware of.

Now we are settled to have migration guides so the next API breaking releases won’t require that much effort.

Thanks

I want to thank everybody in the Libav team for spending that much time on the annoying, depressing and unrewarding task of coping with the release process, fixing fringe bugs, bake patches for projects not really used and help cleaning up the documentation.

Special thanks also go to the people from VideoLan and mpv since they helped us a lot in many different ways (testing, giving feedback on the new APIs and also provide patches) and to the Google security team that provided me on short notice a large batch of samples for HEVC and VP9 that I used to validate the new decoders.

Future releases

Release process update

This is the plan for the next 4 releases (spanning more or less from spring till winter), it is the result of all the feedback regarding our release process and requests.

Enough people, mostly mpv, vlc and other downstreams tracking us by git commit, would like to have quicker major releases. The API changes
introduced are mostly caused by us trying to satisfy their needs after all.

On the other hand, a good amount of people, distribution managers/packagers and the people tending to orphaned packages used but not really developed further, have quite a problem keeping up with the changes if the API gets incompatible too often.

In order to help them we already opened a dedicated section to our bugzilla and started writing migration guides, but they would really like not having to patch old packages that often anyway.

Trying to satisfy those two, apparently conflicting, requirements that’s what we aim for:

  • Every odd major releases should not break the API, must happen quickly once enough features are available and just augment the API. ABI breaks still possible, thus the version bumps.
  • Major releases removing old APIs, thus normally source incompatible with downstream not tracking git, should happen at most once per season
    or twice per year.
  • All the API changes will get an entry in the migration guide when it is committed.
  • We do remain committed to backport security-impacting bugfixes through a window of API-breaking releases, thus not leaving in the cold who couldn’t or didn’t update often enough.

I hope ~8 feature improvements and ~4 api cleanups per year would make most people happy.

Next releases

Libav 11

It would just provide new features, more optimizations for the usual platforms and the new ones, support for a good number of fringe codecs, such as the elusive vp7, will be added.

As stated above no API breakages are to be expected.

Libav 12

This release will contain major changes, including possibly a new scaling library.
The wiki has a Blueprint section tracking the most prominent ones, you are welcome to discuss them with us.

What I’ll be working on

I’m personally involved in the following items:

  • Extend MXF support: The format is quite bizantine and had been extended even further over time.[libav11]
  • Hwaccel2: because the current situation is far from being easy to use.[libav11]
  • mime-type support in Input Formats: since we support as output I don’t see why we should not leverage it on input to speed-up probing formats.[libav11]
  • AVScale: a replacement to swscale, trying to be more rational and not pointlessly lose information doing all pointless intermediate conversions to YUV. Incidentally also support hardware scalers when available [libav12]
  • libmfx: Intel tried its best to give an uniform interface that spans Linux, Windows and possibly MacOSX, I have working decoders and encoders wrappers, soon also hwaccel1.2 support. [libav11]
  • MVC support: multiview support is nice to have if you want to watch your blu-ray disks. [libav11]
  • Apple VDA and VT hwaccel: Since the introduction of hwaccel1.2 supporting them properly should be easier.[libav11]

If some of them are important to you actual help or even sponsorship is welcome.

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