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The OpenGL Pipeline Newsletter - Volume 002

Table of Contents
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One SDK to Rule Them All

The Ecosystem TSG has been focused on one goal this past quarter: delivering an OpenGL SDK. We intend the SDK to serve as one-stop-shopping for the tools and reference materials that developers desire, nay, demand in order to effectively and efficiently target the OpenGL API. In an poll conducted earlier this year, you let us know in no uncertain terms that above all else you'd like to see the ARB publish a full-blown SDK. Herein I will describe the various components we're planning to include.

  • Documentation
    • We will provide reference documentation for all OpenGL 2.1 core entrypoints. We aim to make this available in a variety of convenient formats, including HTML and PDF. Over time we may also back-fill this reference material to cover ARB extensions.

      Aside from the relatively dry reference docs, we'll also feature a number of tutorials which will walk you through the use of OpenGL API features, from your very first basic OpenGL program to the latest and greatest advanced rendering techniques. These tutorials will be contributed by the most respected OpenGL tutorial sites on the web.
  • Samples
    • What better way to start your own OpenGL project than by reusing someone else's sample code? And what better way to spark your imagination and see what's possible with OpenGL than by running cutting-edge demos on your own system? This category will contain both samples (with source code), and demos (without source).
  • Libraries
    • No need to reinvent the wheel. Others have already abstracted away window system specific issues, initialization of extension entrypoints, loading of images, etc. Make use of the libraries in this category and spend your development time on the exciting new things you're bringing to life with OpenGL.
  • Tools
    • There are some impressive tools and utilities out there to make your life easier while developing for OpenGL. Whether you need a debugger, a performance profiler, or just an image compressor, we'll have you covered in this category of the SDK. Some of these tools are commercially available, while others are free.
  • Conformance tests
    • The success of OpenGL depends on all implementations behaving the same way. When you write an application on one piece of hardware, you want it to run smoothly on others. This requires the graphics drivers from various vendors to all conform to a single set of rules: the OpenGL specification (which of course is also available as part of the SDK). A suite of tests will be developed to help ensure that compatibility can be maintained and developers won't spend the majority of their precious time writing vendor-specific code paths to work around incompatibilities.

Does it seem like the ARB is biting off more than it can chew? Absolutely. That's why we're teaming with leading OpenGL companies, open source projects, and individual professionals who will do all the heavy lifting. The SDK will be a clearinghouse for contributions in the above categories which the Ecosystem TSG has deemed worthy of your attention. The ARB will still be on the hook for reference documentation, conformance tests, and other components that we're in a unique position to supply. But wherever possible we'll be leaning on the rest of the community to step up to the plate and help flesh out our SDK -- your SDK.

Benj Lipchak, AMD
Ecosystem TSG Chair

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