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OpenGL Programming Guide: The Official Guide to Learning OpenGL, Version 4.3 Paperback – 20 Mar 2013
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“Wow! This book is basically one-stop shopping for OpenGL information. It is the kind of book that I will be reaching for a lot. Thanks to Dave, Graham, John, and Bill for an amazing effort.”
—Mike Bailey, professor, Oregon State University
“The most recent Red Book parallels the grand tradition of OpenGL; continuous evolution towards ever-greater power and efficiency. The eighth edition contains up-to-the minute information about the latest standard and new features, along with a solid grounding in modern OpenGL techniques that will work anywhere. The Red Book continues to be an essential reference for all new employees at my simulation company. What else can be said about this essential guide? I laughed, I cried, it was much better than Cats—I’ll read it again and again.”
—Bob Kuehne, president, Blue Newt Software
“OpenGL has undergone enormous changes since its inception twenty years ago. This new edition is your practical guide to using the OpenGL of today. Modern OpenGL is centered on the use of shaders, and this edition of the Programming Guide jumps right in, with shaders covered in depth in Chapter 2. It continues in later chapters with even more specifics on everything from texturing to compute shaders. No matter how well you know it or how long you’ve been doing it, if you are going to write an OpenGL program, you want to have a copy of the OpenGL® Programming Guide handy.”
—Marc Olano, associate professor, UMBC
“If you are looking for the definitive guide to programming with the very latest version of OpenGL, look no further. The authors of this book have been deeply involved in the creation of OpenGL 4.3, and everything you need to know about the cutting edge of this industry-leading API is laid out here in a clear, logical, and insightful manner.”
—Neil Trevett, president, Khronos Group
About the Author
Dave Shreiner, Director of Graphics and GPU Computing at ARM, Inc., has been active in OpenGL development nearly since its inception. He created the first commercial OpenGL training course and has taught OpenGL programming for twenty years.
Graham Sellers, coauthor of OpenGL® SuperBible, manages OpenGL Software Development at AMD. He authored many OpenGL feature specifications and helped bring OpenGL ES to desktop computers.
John Kessenich, OpenGL Shading Language Specification Editor, consults at LunarG, Inc., building compiler technology for GLSL. He helped develop OpenGL 2.0 and OpenGL ES 2.0 at 3Dlabs and Intel.
Bill Licea-Kane is Principal Member of Technical Staff at AMD, coauthor of OpenGL® Shading Language Guide, and chairs the OpenGL Shading Language technical subgroup.
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This review, then, is of a book without the accompanying source code. While it is common for computing books to have source code online, I have never encountered one in 20 years that relied on it so heavily and was so useless without it and I feel these factors disqualify it as a true 'reference' book.
While I do not underestimate the size of the task that Dave Shreiner et al. have undertaken in overhauling all the deprecated features in the last edition, I feel that the book has lost most of its appeal. In short, I was able to learn OpenGL from the original redbook but a novice would not have a clue where to begin with this last outing.
This book goes into great detail about pointless and redundant functions, like explaining how to allocate, de-allocate, bind, and query for the existence of every type of OpenGL resource (which typically gets a full page per resource, but is always the same except for the function name) - yet it fails to explain what it actually is you are allocating, or what you might use it for, or what a good strategy for its use is.
As an example: what is a VAO? Sure, having read the book, I know how to allocate one now - now tell me: why would I? What does it do, and how do I best use it?
Function arguments are also barely explained. A vital table, explaining what the arguments to glReadBuffer() actually do, and that was present in the predecessor book, is now missing. I understand a book must have a limited length, but a book that positions itself as "the official guide to learning" should surely prioritize the basics of the API over much more esoteric subjects like the procedural texturing chapter?
There's also the use of home-grown software to skip over certain important details - the book uses several pages to describe how to use a function that isn't even in OpenGL, but part of the authors' personal library. Meanwhile, any explanation of the OpenGL API being called inside that function is missing completely - and a listing for the function is also missing.
All in all, this is a pretty useless and confusing book. If you are buying this in the hopes of understanding OpenGL, you will have a long struggle ahead of you including many trips to the internet to try and figure out what all those weird functions really do.
Now for the reason not to buy this book and why the authors should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves: the source code for the book. In the old days you got a CD with books this size. Here there is no CD, but the book mentions a website. Here is the near complete text of that website: (which incidentally looks like it was made in 1995)
"Update: Thanks to all of you who have picked up a copy of the latest version of the OpenGL Progrmaming Guide. We know a number of you have been looking for the source code from the book. Here is a link to most of the code. It's not all of the code, since Dave's traveling and hasn't been able to verify all the code that's in our repository. Sorry for the delay, and as soon as he's not working his Mac laptop (bohyah!), he'll get rest of it up here."
The book was published March 2013. It is now July 2014 and still no complete source code! Where is Dave? Is he still travelling, lost in the Sahara desert? Is he still "working his Mac laptop"? (Whatever that means?) This is utterly unacceptable situation, clearly the authors have abandoned this website and have no intention of ever supplying working source code. Khronos is a prestigious organisation. The Red Book is one of the best known computing books in the world. OpenGL one of the finest libraries, and this is best they can do? For shame!
The microsite does have a link to a download. But the source code therein is, as they say, incomplete. The very first example in the book, the "Hello World" example is NOT in the code. Seriously! And that is one of the full complete code examples in the book. This is another criticism, too many code samples in the book are snippets. The reader might not know where to put them. As far as I can see the source code on the site bears no resemblance to what's in the book making it useless. And the reader can't even type in the code from the book because even example 1 (which is almost a complete program) includes some proprietary libraries the authors wrote which are not listed in the book.
Despite being near useless, the source code ZIP file weighs in at 150 Mb, pretty huge for a few C files. In fact most of the space is taken up with huge picture files including one DDS file at 33 Mb. Was this really necessary? And why DDS which is clearly associated with DirectX and likely never used by OpenGL programmers.
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