openGL Noobie

Hi ,

I’m an animator/designer/flash scripter. Am interested in learning about OpenGL programming.

However I’m totally new to C or Java or c++ coding.

So my first question is, just how do I get to do OpenGL programming?

Second question : I don’t have a graphics accelerator card. But I have 16MB agp on my motherboard. Will I be able to code and test my opengl code with this?


You can program OpenGL on any system, but your system with 16MB AGP on board probably means it has integrated graphics as part of the mobo chipset and that will probably give you acceptable 3D acceleration.

The answer to the other part of your question is, you need to learn to program first. There are OpenGL bindings for some scripting languages like perl, and python, but really the difference between these languages and C is only that one set are interpreted when you run them and the other are compiled, with JAVA half way in between. You still need to be able to program and write algorithms even when using these ‘scripting’ languages.

You’ll learn OpenGL more easily if you understand programming and OpenGL won’t be much use to you if you don’t.

You should probably start with learning the C language, it can be fun. OpenGL native bindings are C, and C will get you on the way towards C++. If that terrifies you then maybe Visual Basic, it seems to have OpenGL bindings available. If you’re comfortable with scripting and like portability without recompiling then a scropting language is probably a better fit, but you may have to find the OpenGL bindings online for these.

  1. Choose a programing language :
    OpenGl can be used from (really) many different languages. C/C++ is standard but there are many traps with pointers and such, Java is safer but somewhat complex if you have no notion of Object Oriented Programming. You may try Delphi too, or even Basic.

I am far from being able to judge what is the best language for you, but Python seems quite good. Fast to learn, and a powerful language too. So get Python here and PyOpenGL here .

Maybe there are some other Python packages to install as well. But I believe it is worth the pain, compared to struggling later with C++.
Go for NeHe at , there are very good GL starting tutorials in any programming language.

  1. Don’t worry about a crappy video card, in the worst case you will have a software emulation.

A last note : try Carad to start messing with OpenGL without actually coding, it is interesting :
(You should read the openGL specs too)

Good luck !

EDIT: too slow…
Well, I still advise you to avoid C if you don’t really need it. I do like C but it can be very annoying to spend a day on stupid traps when you begin.

[This message has been edited by ZbuffeR (edited 01-22-2004).]

Hi again guys

Thanks a lot for the info. I will try out Python first and see how it goes.

Again the help is much appreciated.


Your computer should have enought power to do simple openGL programming, later you may want to invest in a newer ATI or Nvadia video card for more advanced stuff.

I prefer C/C++ since openGL was build around C and C/C++ is supported on all the major computer platforms. You will find most openGL examples are in C/C++, though you will find examples of using openGL with other languages also.

You can get your feet wet with DEV-C++ a free C/C++ compiler, I have a link on my website for it. is a good place to start learning openGL with tutors on how to start programming with openGL. The main focus of the site is windows and C/C++, he also has examples of his tutors in other languages.

Note also most game programming today is done in C/C++.