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There are about 20 brief introductory pages at the beginning of the book that are the unique content. After that the book is basically bound manual pages for the APIs. If you don't like reading this material on a screen then you might consider buying the book.
I'm giving this book three stars because even though it's handy to have a reference manual such as this, I think they could have spent the time to do some cross referencing and some better graphical structuring to add value to the material. O'Reilly, for example, has some books (particularly the Nutshell books) which are little more than API references, but people pay for the cross-referencing and the information design. More care could have been taken on this book.
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le 10 avril 2004
The fourth edition of "OpenGL Reference Manual" edited by Dave Shreiner provides an official command reference for the OpenGL graphics library version 1.4. Published by Addison Wesley (ISBN 0-321-17383-X) the text is approximately 760 pages and has a suggested retail price of $59.99.
First introduced in 1992, OpenGL is an industry standard graphical application programming interface (API) that supports 2D and 3D rendering across a host of platforms. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) governs the OpenGL API and oversees the adoption of new interface functions. Functions (or commands) within the API are usually simple and discrete. A developer calls a series of these small functions in sequence to specify rendering operations. To help utilize the library, the "OpenGL Reference Manual" supplies key functional documentation in a uniform manner.
The first two chapters provide an introduction to OpenGL, and an overview of the OpenGL architecture. The provided information is largely for reference rather than instruction. Generally, it is assumed the reader has a working knowledge of the pipeline already.
The third and fourth chapters list different groupings of the functional commands to provide the reader with several methods to index and reference functions. The third chapter details all each official OpenGL command categorized by functionality. The fourth chapter lists the various OpenGL constants that are compatible with each command.
Beginning with the fifth chapter, 160 official OpenGL commands are described. Listed alphabetically, every command has the following sections: Name, Function Prototype, Parameters, Description, Notes, Errors, See Also, and (sometimes when appropriate) Associated Gets. The coverage of each command spans an average of 3 pages.
The last two chapters describe fifty-two of the OpenGL Utility Library (GLU) and thirty-five OpenGL X-Windows extension commands. The reference format is identical but slightly shorter (averaging about 2 pages per command).
Overall, the organization and consistency is excellent. Often, material is duplicated per command to save the reader cross-referencing other sections of the book. Throughout the text, the wording is clear and unambiguous (if a bit dry) - exactly what you'd expect from a reference book of this nature.
The book does have a few shortcomings, however. There is only a small trace of sample source code. While the commands are presented alphabetically by class, the book contained no overall index. OpenGL Extensions (pixel and vertex shader commands, etc.) are not provided since they're not officially part of the Standard. Finally, having an electronic version of the text would have been a nice touch - especially one that integrated with the common development environments to provide context sensitive help or electronic searching.
The latest edition of the "OpenGL Reference Manual" is a great companion for OpenGL developers. To get the most from this book, readers unfamiliar or interested in learning the API should first read the "OpenGL Programming Guide, 4th Edition" (ISBN 0-3-211-73491) also published by Addison Wesley.
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