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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
3-D Graphics Programming with OpenGL
Author:
Clayton Walnum
ISBN:
0 7897 0277 0
Publisher:
Que
Pages:
511pp+disk
Price:
£41-99
Reviewer:
Peter Crouch
Subject:
graphics
Appeared in:
10-3
This book is specifically for using OpenGL under Windows NT 3.5 with Microsoft Visual C++ version 2.00 but this is only apparent when you actually see it and get the chance to read the back cover and introduction. The example programs are in C++ although most of the OpenGL specific code involves setting values in OpenGL structures and then calling OpenGL functions. The recommended user level is accomplished to expert, as applied to C++ and MS Visual C++ in particular.

It is divided into 3 sections: Basic Techniques, chapters 1 - 5, 3-D Worlds with OpenGL, chapters 6 - 8 and Advanced Techniques, chapters 9 and 10. Chapters 1 to 3 cover an introduction to OpenGL and 2-D and 3-D graphics programming. Quite frequent reference is made to the OpenGL Reference Manual from the OpenGL Architecture Board for greater explanation of advanced topics.

Each chapter follows the same format, an outline of the principles involved, a description of specific OpenGL Windows functions to be used, details of how to create the program files using AppWizard and AppStudio, an explanation of how the program works and a full program listing followed by a summary of the functions used. It seems to be based on the old drill sergeant's technique of 'Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em then tell 'em what you've told 'em'!

A disc with source code and compiled example programs is included, which is convenient but puts up the price of the book as VAT is charged on it

actually the VAT element is very small, usually well under£1. - Francis Glassborow.I don't know how much of the price is based on the number of pages but the MS AppWizard instructions plus the code listings can take up half the pages in a chapter.

When I asked to review this book I was hoping to do some OpenGL programming at work. However I didn't get given that task and I have now changed jobs to one where I am not involved in graphics programming. So I haven't tried to build any OpenGL programs, but I did lend the book to an ex-colleague who did get to do some OpenGL programming. He, like myself, is a C rather than C++ programmer and so found some difficulty in transferring the examples into his C code. Nevertheless he succeeded in incorporating OpenGL shading functionality into an in-house CADCAM system.

I do not feel qualified to comment on the quality of the code but there is a specific warning in the introduction about the lack of extensive error checking although there a number of ASSERTs in the code. I have run the demo programs under NT 4.0 and I was quite impressed once I worked out the missing piece of the installation instructions and how to operate the more advanced demos.

Overall, I think it gives a reasonable introduction to OpenGL programming under Windows but at the price I don't think I could recommend it to anyone who was working in a non-Microsoft Windows NT environment and buying it out of their own pocket.