OpenGL on a Good Track
Greg Abbas

200608060007The annual SIGGRAPH conference was held in Boston this year, and as usual there was no shortage of exciting work on display. The papers and sketches always contain brilliant research, the Electronic Theater is a phenomenal showcase of the world's best animation and effects, and the Emerging Technologies gallery is unexpected and fun. But one of the most surprising things for me was the OpenGL birds-of-a-feather ("BOF") meeting. I had never been to a BOF, but I decided to go to this one because I was curious what to make of the recent announcement that the control of the OpenGL standard was passing from the ARB to the Khronos group. It wasn't clear to me from the press release what the implications of this were, and I wanted to find out.

The first thing I noticed was that the meeting room was packed. Lots of people are interested in OpenGL... more than the organizers were expecting. Then when the meeting got underway, I learned that this transfer paves the way to effectively coordinate OpenGL with OpenGL ES (the cell-phone version of the standard) which is already under the Khronos roof. Moreover, it may open some doors to coordinate OpenGL with COLLADA, the XML-based 3D interchange format. So, this is really about keeping standards coherent and compatible.

There were several other good announcements, too. For one thing, OpenGL is going to be a first-class citizen on Microsoft Windows Vista, not just a compatibility layer on top of D3D. That's welcome news because it'll help keep Microsoft from marginalizing OpenGL in an effort to monopolize the domain. Also, NVIDIA says they're actively developing a geometry shader extension, which promises to add some very useful programmability in between the vertex and fragment stages of the pipeline. I can't wait!