Basic general question about getting started


I’m re-acquainting myself with OpenGL after developing an interest in learning shaders. I picked up a copy of RenderMonkey and mangled my way through a few HLSL tuts, but decided i’d sooner learn it from the Orange Book since it appears to be one of the better books out there to get started on shaders.

Anyway, shader programming doesn’t particularly scare me, but what’s giving me hedaaches is figuring out a development environment. I thought I’d catch a break using RenderMonkey, but with the advent of OpenGL3, the RM interface doesn’t seem to be well suited to implementing it. That is, I tried the first sample shader in the Orange Book (3rd Ed, of course), and it compiled without error but I ended up with a black screen. I’ve pored over the interface, checking variables, etc., trying to figure out what I’ve got to do with RM to make it talk to OpenGL3 shaders, with no luck. I’ve managed to make it work by using deprecated code, but I don’t want to have to keep modifying the tuts as I go to make them work in RM.

That leaves me with the bigger question, am I barking up the wrong tree? Am I better off using some other environment? FX Composer hasn’t been updated since '08 and doesn’t look any nicer to use than RenderMonkey. Blender supports custom shaders, but tuts on how to implement are scarce, incomplete, and Blender’s 2.5x beta isn’t well documented at this point. I’ve learned a little Ogre, and I was thinking of trying there, but I don’t want to start putting time and effort into building a development workflow when I don’t know that it’ll work.

Maybe I should just start with one of the tuts here and build my own in C++?

I greatly appreciate any thoughts anyone may have.