OpenGL Programming

Introduction

OpenGL is a graphics library that was designed using the C++ programming language. The OpenGL source code is distributed by Silicon Graphics, Inc. and is open for the public to download free. OpenGL's popularity in the past few years has grown tremendously because of it open source code, and elegant design, and ease of use.

Much of the popularity of OpenGL has come from its open source nature. Open source in this sense does not mean that the code is free from all restrictions; yet, it refers to the ability for anyone to download the source code free of charge. The OpenGL C++ source code can be downloaded at www.opengl.org. For years there has been a need to program graphics in C++, but the graphics libraries distributed with versions of C++ were slow and not optimized for 3D applications. Other graphics libraries were distributed by third party graphics companies, however, these libraries were very expensive. This means that for years the average programmer was unable to work with 3D extensive applications. OpenGL revolutionized programming by creating an optimized graphics library for 3D applications and distributing it free of charge.

A graphics library distributed free of charge is not the only factor in making OpenGL popular. The code must be able to perform intensive 3D applications, while still maintaining its ability to adapt to different situations and environments. In other words, the design of the code must be elegant in nature. OpenGL has adapted to many different platforms such as Linux, Windows NT, and Windows 98. Microsoft's version of DirectX SDK lacked this interoperability. Microsoft's DirectX will not operate on Linux environments, and their newest version, DirectX 7a, will not operate in the Windows NT environment. OpenGL is able to operate on almost any platform because many of the graphics calls go directly to the video hardware, not the operating system.

Finally, the third aspect that has contributed to OpenGL's popularity is its ease of use. Combined with the GLUT libraries, OpenGL is almost as simple to code as the Borland BGI graphics library. However, the two libraries are very different in that Borland's BGI is designed for presentation graphics, definitely not 3D intensive applications. OpenGL incorporates raw power and control into an environment that is easy to use. OpenGL's ease of use contributes to its popularity in that more users will be compelled to use code if they understand how it works. This web site is designed for beginner and intermediate lever programmers who may be new to C++ or OpenGL. The objective is to provide simple code examples, references to common problems, a C++ Tutorial, and links to other sites that provide valuable information regarding OpenGL Programming. Also, this site would like to illustrate the importance of OpenGL programming for in the future. Applications of OpenGL are now being seen in fields such as Mathematics, Engineering, Medicine, Neurology, and Computer Science. OpenGL is becoming the central medium for communication using 3D models, animations, and presentations. Therefore, there is a vast need to learn and understand the basics of OpenGL Programming.

Questions? Comments? email: nick@ohiofirst.com