Introduction to Opengl

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What Is OpenGL?
OpenGL is a software interface to graphics hardware. This interface consists of about 150 distinct commands that you use to specify the objects and operations needed to produce interactive three-dimensional applications. OpenGL is designed as a streamlined, hardware-independent interface to be implemented on many different hardware platforms. To achieve these qualities, no commands for performing windowing tasks or obtaining user input are included in OpenGL; instead, you must work through whatever windowing system controls the particular hardware you’re using. Similarly, OpenGL doesn’t provide high-level commands for describing models of three-dimensional objects. Such commands might allow you to specify relatively complicated shapes such as automobiles, parts of the body, airplanes, or molecules. With OpenGL, you must build up your desired model from a small set of geometric primitives - points, lines, and polygons. A sophisticated library that provides these features could certainly be built on top of OpenGL. The OpenGL Utility Library (GLU) provides many of the modeling features. OpenGL-Related Libraries

OpenGL provides a powerful but primitive set of rendering commands, and all higher-level drawing must be done in terms of these commands. Also, OpenGL programs have to use the underlying mechanisms of the windowing system. A number of libraries exist to allow you to simplify your programming tasks, including the following: The OpenGL Utility Library (GLU) contains several routines that use lower-level OpenGL commands to perform such tasks as setting up matrices for specific viewing orientations and projections, performing polygon tessellation, and rendering surfaces. This library is provided as part of every OpenGL implementation. Portions of the GLU are described in the OpenGL Reference Manual. For every window system, there is a library that extends the functionality of that window system to support OpenGL rendering. For machines that use the X Window System, the OpenGL Extension to the X Window System (GLX) is provided as an adjunct to OpenGL. GLX routines use the prefix glX. For Microsoft Windows, the WGL routines provide the Windows to OpenGL interface. All WGL routines use the prefix wgl. For IBM OS/2, the PGL is the Presentation Manager to OpenGL interface, and its routines use the prefix pgl. All these window system extension libraries are described in more detail in both Appendix C. In addition, the GLX routines are also described in the OpenGL Reference Manual. The OpenGL Utility Toolkit (GLUT) is a window system-independent toolkit, written by Mark Kilgard, to hide the complexities of differing window system APIs. GLUT is the subject of the next section, and it’s described in more detail in Mark Kilgard’s book OpenGL Programming for the X Window System (ISBN 0-201-48359-9). GLUT routines use the prefix glut. "How to Obtain the Sample Code" in the Preface describes how to obtain the source code for GLUT, using ftp. Open Inventor is an object-oriented toolkit based on OpenGL which provides objects and methods for creating interactive three-dimensional graphics applications. Open Inventor, which is written in C++, provides prebuilt objects and a built-in event model for user interaction, high-level application components for creating and editing three-dimensional scenes, and the ability to print objects and exchange data in other graphics formats. Open Inventor is separate from OpenGL. Include Files

For all OpenGL applications, you want to include the gl.h header file in every file. Almost all OpenGL applications use GLU, the aforementioned OpenGL Utility Library, which requires inclusion of the glu.h header file. So almost every OpenGL source file begins with #include #include

If you are directly accessing a window interface library to support OpenGL, such as GLX, AGL, PGL, or WGL, you must include additional header files. For example, if you are calling GLX, you may need to add these...
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