An open source, application-programming interface that's great at scaling vector 2D and 3D graphics
Windows 95 / Windows 10 / Windows 8 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 7
OpenGL is a piece of software that is entirely free and open-source, and it provides users with an application programming interface, or API, for graphical content. The software is surprisingly common even if it's not explicitly obvious every time you use it or something created with it.
One of the most powerful features of OpenGL is that the software isn't limited to software rendering. It gains access to your system's graphics card in order to provide hardware rendering, which is generally of a higher quality and doesn't rely on the power of the CPU. Perhaps the most common utility of this software is to scale 2D and 3D vector graphics. This version of the software is designed for the Windows operating system, but there are versions of the tool for each of the popular operating systems on the market.
While OpenGL is focused on graphic quality, it isn't sufficient for top-tier games that require excessive polygons. That's not to say that the software is never used for games, because that certainly wouldn't be true. In fact, it's often used for simpler games that don't have a lot of intense graphics. It's also commonly used for standard non-game apps that use a lot of graphics.
If OpenGL is used to run emulation software or games that don't require high numbers of polygons, it has exceptionally high speed and excellent stability. The system is easy to learn since it's so common and there's so much documentation for it online, and most apps that use OpenGL can be tweaked to work on other operating systems. The flexibility of OpenGL is unmatched in its category.
There's a good chance you've encountered the OpenGL software at some point in the past without realizing what you experienced. In fact, the software is so common that you've probably been in contact with one form of it or another many, many times over the course of your life. The software was initially released nearly 25 years ago, and it is still going strong thanks to frequent updates and the original quality of the system.
You can rest assured that you'll be successful if you want to take advantage of an OpenGL module to make one of your apps fully functional. This API is a great starting point if you are trying to learn 3D graphic programming. Even if you have no idea what you're doing or where to get started, the software will provide everything you need to get off the ground. You'll be able to use the software many, many times after it has been downloaded and installed, and it provides an excellent jumping-off point for graphic programmers who are new to the field. It lacks some of the most advanced functions and abilities of other benchmark graphic systems like DirectX, but that helps the software maintain an accessible level of utility.
OpenGL is an open-source graphics library and application programming interface designed to provide high-quality three-dimensional (3D) graphics. The download includes a number of libraries and files that are needed to support programming in OpenGL. It does not contain device-specific drivers. This is because nearly all computers today come with OpenGL drivers built into the basic operating system or attached to the graphics card drivers. Installation is very easy and is done through a self-extracting executable file. Users really do not have to do anything beyond starting the installer. It is normally necessary to restart the computer after installing OpenGL.
One of the main benefits of installing OpenGL on a computer is better performance. OpenGL has been designed to be an optimized interface for programming graphics. OpenGL often provides better frame rates and lower rendering times than some proprietary libraries such as DirectX from Microsoft. OpenGL is also a cross-platform graphics solution. A version of OpenGL exists for nearly every operating system available to consumers today. This means programs can be more easily ported between operating systems without having to create custom graphics modules for each one. OpenGL drivers are even available for mobile devices.
OpenGL has a very wide range of capabilities when used for graphics programming. OpenGL can easily support fast two-dimensional graphics on any screen. It also has a number of 3D functions that make creating scenegraphs or 3D applications much easier. OpenGL has a relatively small number of core functions to understand and learn. This is very convenient, especially when compared to larger and more-complex competing packages. OpenGL includes support for custom features of different graphics cards like optimized shaders and dual processors. OpenGL allows developers to have a very granular level of control over almost every graphics function, from building an array of vertices to managing the color depth of buffers.
Another advantage is that OpenGL is open-source software. This means developers do not have to pay any fees to use and distribute programs built with the software. This is very different from some proprietary solutions that require developer or licensing fees. OpenGL is also flexible when it comes to hardware. The drivers and libraries are specifically designed to adapt to any system. OpenGL can revert to pure software emulation if no graphics card is found. Programmers can specify minimum and maximum operating parameters within an application so that OpenGL functions as intended. This flexibility makes OpenGL a very attractive option for developing graphical applications and games.
There are a few drawbacks when it comes to downloading OpenGL. The first is that other downloads are necessary to start developing OpenGL programs. Every language has an OpenGL wrapper and application programming interface that needs to be installed. This wrapper allows the language to access the functions in the OpenGL library. Another complication is that getting OpenGL to work in some integrated development environments can be difficult especially for beginners. OpenGL is still one of the most widely used and freely accessible graphics programming libraries available today.
- Simple installer
- Open source
- Allows for cross-platform development
- Requires additional downloads
- Learning OpenGL can be confusing at first
- No basic documentation