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OpenGL API Documentation Overview

OpenGL is the industry's most widely used, supported and best documented 2D/3D graphics API making it inexpensive & easy to obtain information on implementing OpenGL in hardware and software. There are numerous books, tutorials, online coding examples, coding seminars, and classes that document the API, Extensions, Utility Libraries, and Platform Specific Implementations.

The two essential documentation resources that every developer should have are the latest releases of:

The documentation section of contains:

  • What's New in OpenGL
    • A review of the new features and extensions in the most recent version of the OpenGL specification
  • Download the OpenGL Specification and Utility Library Specifications
    • Download current specification and man pages for OpenGL, GLX, GLU , and GLUT, as well as older versions of these APIs.
  • OpenGL Reference Pages
    • The reference pages (also known as "man pages") include all of the important usage information for each command. This information includes a description of all parameters, return values, error conditions, and related commands.
  • The OpenGL Shading Language
    • The recent trend in graphics hardware has been to replace fixed functionality with programmability in areas that have grown exceedingly complex (e.g., vertex processing and fragment processing). The OpenGL Shading Language allows application programmers to express the processing that occurs at those programmable points of the OpenGL pipeline. This document specifies the programming language.
  • OpenGL Extensions & OpenGL Extension Registry
    • Using the OpenGL extension mechanism, hardware developers can differentiate their products and incorporate new features by developing extensions that allow software developers to access additional performance and technological innovations. These extensions provide OpenGL application developers with new rendering features above and beyond the features specified in the official OpenGL standard. OpenGL extensions keep the OpenGL API current with the latest innovations in graphics hardware and rendering algorithms.
  • OS/Platform Implementations
    • Supported on all UNIX workstations, and shipped standard with every Windows and MacOS PC, no other graphics API operates on a wider range of hardware platforms and software environments. OpenGL runs on every major operating system including Mac OS, OS/2, UNIX, Win32/64, Linux, OPENStep and BeOS as well as embedded Real Time OSs and game consoles. OpenGL is callable from Ada, C, C++, Fortran, Python, Perl and Java and offers complete independence from network protocols and topologies
  • OpenGL Books
    • Books which range from covering core functionality to advanced rendering tips and techniques, to game programming, to 3D terrain rendering, to niche applications.

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