[FFmpeg-cvslog] doc/developer.texi: add a section on API/ABI compatibility

Anton Khirnov git at videolan.org
Mon Mar 20 11:56:27 EET 2023

ffmpeg | branch: master | Anton Khirnov <anton at khirnov.net> | Sat Mar 11 16:39:25 2023 +0100| [49b733c73c59f34d03ec6bc46b397b207108d975] | committer: Anton Khirnov

doc/developer.texi: add a section on API/ABI compatibility

Document established practices in it.

> http://git.videolan.org/gitweb.cgi/ffmpeg.git/?a=commit;h=49b733c73c59f34d03ec6bc46b397b207108d975

 doc/developer.texi | 162 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++------
 1 file changed, 146 insertions(+), 16 deletions(-)

diff --git a/doc/developer.texi b/doc/developer.texi
index 5e283227be..c625a9feed 100644
--- a/doc/developer.texi
+++ b/doc/developer.texi
@@ -217,6 +217,7 @@ int myfunc(int my_parameter)
 @end example
+ at anchor{Naming conventions}
 @section Naming conventions
 Names of functions, variables, and struct members must be lowercase, using
@@ -387,22 +388,6 @@ time-frame (12h for build failures and security fixes, 3 days small changes,
 Also note, the maintainer can simply ask for more time to review!
 @section Code
- at subheading API/ABI changes should be discussed before they are made.
-Do not change behavior of the programs (renaming options etc) or public
-API or ABI without first discussing it on the ffmpeg-devel mailing list.
-Do not remove widely used functionality or features (redundant code can be removed).
- at subheading Remember to check if you need to bump versions for libav*.
-Depending on the change, you may need to change the version integer.
-Incrementing the first component means no backward compatibility to
-previous versions (e.g. removal of a function from the public API).
-Incrementing the second component means backward compatible change
-(e.g. addition of a function to the public API or extension of an
-existing data structure).
-Incrementing the third component means a noteworthy binary compatible
-change (e.g. encoder bug fix that matters for the decoder). The third
-component always starts at 100 to distinguish FFmpeg from Libav.
 @subheading Warnings for correct code may be disabled if there is no other option.
 Compiler warnings indicate potential bugs or code with bad style. If a type of
 warning always points to correct and clean code, that warning should
@@ -417,6 +402,151 @@ Never write to unallocated memory, never write over the end of arrays,
 always check values read from some untrusted source before using them
 as array index or other risky things.
+ at section Library public interfaces
+Every library in FFmpeg provides a set of public APIs in its installed headers,
+which are those listed in the variable @code{HEADERS} in that library's
+ at file{Makefile}. All identifiers defined in those headers (except for those
+explicitly documented otherwise), and corresponding symbols exported from
+compiled shared or static libraries are considered public interfaces and must
+comply with the API and ABI compatibility rules described in this section.
+Public APIs must be backward compatible within a given major version. I.e. any
+valid user code that compiles and works with a given library version must still
+compile and work with any later version, as long as the major version number is
+unchanged. "Valid user code" here means code that is calling our APIs in a
+documented and/or intended manner and is not relying on any undefined behavior.
+Incrementing the major version may break backward compatibility, but only to the
+extent described in @ref{Major version bumps}.
+We also guarantee backward ABI compatibility for shared and static libraries.
+I.e. it should be possible to replace a shared or static build of our library
+with a build of any later version (re-linking the user binary in the static
+case) without breaking any valid user binaries, as long as the major version
+number remains unchanged.
+ at subsection Adding new interfaces
+Any new public identifiers in installed headers are considered new API - this
+includes new functions, structs, macros, enum values, typedefs, new fields in
+existing functions, new installed headers, etc. Consider the following
+guidelines when adding new APIs.
+ at subsubheading Motivation
+While new APIs can be added relatively easily, changing or removing them is much
+harder due to abovementioned compatibility requirements. You should then
+consider carefully whether the functionality you are adding really needs to be
+exposed to our callers as new public API.
+Your new API should have at least one well-established use case outside of the
+library that cannot be easily achieved with existing APIs. Every library in
+FFmpeg also has a defined scope - your new API must fit within it.
+ at subsubheading Replacing existing APIs
+If your new API is replacing an existing one, it should be strictly superior to
+it, so that the advantages of using the new API outweight the cost to the
+callers of changing their code. After adding the new API you should then
+deprecate the old one and schedule it for removal, as described in
+ at ref{Removing interfaces}.
+If you deem an existing API deficient and want to fix it, the preferred approach
+in most cases is to add a differently-named replacement and deprecate the
+existing API rather than modify it. It is important to make the changes visible
+to our callers (e.g. through compile- or run-time deprecation warnings) and make
+it clear how to transition to the new API (e.g. in the Doxygen documentation or
+on the wiki).
+ at subsubheading API design
+The FFmpeg libraries are used by a variety of callers to perform a wide range of
+multimedia-related processing tasks. You should therefore - within reason - try
+to design your new API for the broadest feasible set of use cases and avoid
+unnecessarily limiting it to a specific type of callers (e.g. just media
+playback or just transcoding).
+ at subsubheading Consistency
+Check whether similar APIs already exist in FFmpeg. If they do, try to model
+your new addition on them to achieve better overall consistency.
+The naming of your new identifiers should follow the @ref{Naming conventions}
+and be aligned with other similar APIs, if applicable.
+ at subsubheading Extensibility
+You should also consider how your API might be extended in the future in a
+backward-compatible way. If you are adding a new struct @code{AVFoo}, the
+standard approach is requiring the caller to always allocate it through a
+constructor function, typically named @code{av_foo_alloc()}. This way new fields
+may be added to the end of the struct without breaking ABI compatibility.
+Typically you will also want a destructor - @code{av_foo_free(AVFoo**)} that
+frees the indirectly supplied object (and its contents, if applicable) and
+writes @code{NULL} to the supplied pointer, thus eliminating the potential
+dangling pointer in the caller's memory.
+If you are adding new functions, consider whether it might be desirable to tweak
+their behavior in the future - you may want to add a flags argument, even though
+it would be unused initially.
+ at subsubheading Documentation
+All new APIs must be documented as Doxygen-formatted comments above the
+identifiers you add to the public headers. You should also briefly mention the
+change in @file{doc/APIchanges}.
+ at subsubheading Bump the version
+Backward-incompatible API or ABI changes require incrementing (bumping) the
+major version number, as described in @ref{Major version bumps}. Major
+bumps are significant events that happen on a schedule - so if your change
+strictly requires one you should add it under @code{#if} preprocesor guards that
+disable it until the next major bump happens.
+New APIs that can be added without breaking API or ABI compatibility require
+bumping the minor version number.
+Incrementing the third (micro) version component means a noteworthy binary
+compatible change (e.g. encoder bug fix that matters for the decoder). The third
+component always starts at 100 to distinguish FFmpeg from Libav.
+ at anchor{Removing interfaces}
+ at subsection Removing interfaces
+Due to abovementioned compatibility guarantees, removing APIs is an involved
+process that should only be undertaken with good reason. Typically a deficient,
+restrictive, or otherwise inadequate API is replaced by a superior one, though
+it does at times happen that we remove an API without any replacement (e.g. when
+the feature it provides is deemed not worth the maintenance effort, out of scope
+of the project, fundamentally flawed, etc.).
+The removal has two steps - first the API is deprecated and scheduled for
+removal, but remains present and functional. The second step is actually
+removing the API - this is described in @ref{Major version bumps}.
+To deprecate an API you should signal to our users that they should stop using
+it. E.g. if you intend to remove struct members or functions, you should mark
+them with @code{attribute_deprecated}. When this cannot be done, it may be
+possible to detect the use of the deprecated API at runtime and print a warning
+(though take care not to print it too often). You should also document the
+deprecation (and the replacement, if applicable) in the relevant Doxygen
+documentation block.
+Finally, you should define a deprecation guard along the lines of
+ at code{#define FF_API_<FOO> (LIBAVBAR_VERSION_MAJOR < XX)} (where XX is the major
+version in which the API will be removed) in @file{libavbar/version_major.h}
+(@file{version.h} in case of @code{libavutil}). Then wrap all uses of the
+deprecated API in @code{#if FF_API_<FOO> .... #endif}, so that the code will
+automatically get disabled once the major version reaches XX. You can also use
+to suppress compiler deprecation warnings inside these guards. You should test
+that the code compiles and works with the guard macro evaluating to both true
+and false.
+ at anchor{Major version bumps}
+ at subsection Major version bumps
+A major version bump signifies an API and/or ABI compatibility break. To reduce
+the negative effects on our callers, who are required to adapt their code,
+backward-incompatible changes during a major bump should be limited to:
+ at itemize @bullet
+ at item
+Removing previously deprecated APIs.
+ at item
+Performing ABI- but not API-breaking changes, like reordering struct contents.
+ at end itemize
 @section Documentation/Other
 @subheading Subscribe to the ffmpeg-devel mailing list.
 It is important to be subscribed to the

More information about the ffmpeg-cvslog mailing list