next up previous contents index
Next: 1.3 Implementor's View of Up: 1 Introduction Previous: 1.1 What is the

1.2 Programmer's View of OpenGL

To the programmer, OpenGL is a set of commands that allow the specification of geometric objects in two or three dimensions, together with commands that control how these objects are rendered into the framebuffer. For the most part, OpenGL provides an immediate-mode interface, meaning that specifying an object causes it to be drawn.

A typical program that uses OpenGL begins with calls to open a window into the framebuffer into which the program will draw. Then, calls are made to allocate a GL context and associate it with the window. Once a GL context is allocated, the programmer is free to issue OpenGL commands. Some calls are used to draw simple geometric objects (i.e. points, line segments, and polygons), while others affect the rendering of these primitives including how they are lit or colored and how they are mapped from the user's two- or three-dimensional model space to the two-dimensional screen. There are also calls to effect direct control of the framebuffer, such as reading and writing pixels.

David Blythe
Sat Mar 29 02:23:21 PST 1997