What is OpenGL?
"OpenGL is the premier environment for developing portable, interactive 2D and 3D graphics applications. Since its introduction in 1992, OpenGL has become the industry's most widely used and supported 2D and 3D graphics application programming interface (API), bringing thousands of applications to a wide variety of computer platforms. OpenGL fosters innovation and speeds application development by incorporating a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects, and other powerful visualization functions. Developers can leverage the power of OpenGL across all popular desktop and workstation platforms, ensuring wide application deployment." - OpenGL.org
The 2 most commonly used graphics APIs are OpenGL and Microsoft's DirectX. A great advantage of OpenGL is that it is platform independent, allowing your applications to be developed for Windows, Linux, Mac OS and other operating systems.
What additional knowledge is required for these tutorials?
As these tutorials are written in C and C++, it is recommended that you have an understanding of the languages. If you are unfamiliar with C and C++, you can visit the C / C++ tutorials section.
What format will the tutorials follow?
The tutorials will be written for both Windows and Linux. For the windows platform, source files for both Microsoft Visual Studio.NET and Dev-C++ will be provided.
If you are developing under Windows, you need to decide on whether to follow these tutorials using Win32 or using GLUT (the OpenGL Utilitity Toolkit). At present, the source files for the Linux tutorials will only be available using the GLUT library.
What is GLUT
The OpenGL Utility Toolkit (GLUT) is a library used to simplify the process of creating an OpenGL window as well as the process of capturing keyboard and mouse input. A great advantage of the library is that it is cross-platform, allowing programs to be easily ported to other operating systems. The library may also be used free of charge.
How do you decide whether to use GLUT or Win32
If you have never programmed using Win32 before, it is recommended that you use GLUT. If you feel that you must use Win32, it is advisable to visit the Win32 tutorials section.
If you are wanting to run your applications on multiple operating systems, it is strongly recommended that you use GLUT. It is extremely easy to set up an OpenGL window and more time can be spent concentrating on OpenGL.
Win32, although more complex, is much more flexible allowing you to process additional windows messages, create more flexible user interfaces, modify window properties and much more. A great disadvantage of using Win32 is that your programs will only be able to run on a Windows operating system.
I hope you now have an idea of what OpenGL is. If you have any queries regarding OpenGL or if you are still confused as whether to use GLUT or Win32, please don't hesitate to ask me for any help.
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Last Updated : 4 April 2005
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