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In-Depth Information
Figure 2. OpenGL in 3D graphics programming
Programming Tool
Abstraction API
Graphics API
used programming tool, very often provided in the form of graphical libraries, is OpenGL
(open graphics library). OpenGL is in turns based on GL (Graphics Library) from SGI.
OpenGL has grown to be an industrial standard library for graphical application devel-
opment, and consists of a set of procedures and functions that allow the programmer to
specify objects and operations associated with producing high quality computer graphics.
Figure 1 illustrates the rendering pipeline used in OpenGL.
An introduction to computer graphics and OpenGL programming, including some
advanced topics such as Web3D, virtual reality, interconnection, and file formats, can be
found in Chen (2003) and Chen (2006). A general introduction to OpenGL can also be
obtained from the topics written by Angle (2003) and Woo, Neider, and Davis (2006).
Another important tool that can be used for 3D graphics programming is DirectX, which
is a set of graphical libraries developed by Microsoft. Obviously, DirectX is targeted for
Microsoft Windows platform and is therefore not as platform-independent as OpenGL.
For the purpose of Web-based applications, which may involve different machines and
platforms, OpenGL is a more suitable choice for program development. Figure 2 shows
how OpenGL can be used for both native 3D graphics programming (with C/C++) as well
as Web-based 3D programming (with Java3D). The latter is the main focus of this topic
and will be discussed in details subsequently.
vIrtual realIty
Virtual reality has been defined by Hamit (1993) as “the presence of human in a computer
generated space,” or more specifically, “a highly interactive, computer-based, multimedia
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