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glLoadGen / Style_Pointer_C

The pointer_c style is the default style. It is also the one that most mimics the way common OpenGL loaders work. This style generates a .h and .c file. The header file can be included by C and C++; the source file should be compiled as C. The generated source is compatible with C89.

Since these are compatible with C, all of the typedefs, enumerations, extension variables, and function pointers are global. The extension variables are of type int. Enumerations are #defines. The functions are function pointers with mangled names that have been #defined into the real OpenGL function name. The latter is done to avoid name conflicts with static linking of certain core OpenGL function names.

The function that loads the extensions and OpenGL version is called LoadFunction, prefixed by a specification-specific prefix. The return value of this function, as well as the value stored in the extension variables, is special. There is an enumeration, prefixed again by the spec-specific prefix.

If the value is LOAD_FAILED, then the extension was not found in the extension string, so no attempt was made to load it. If the value is LOAD_SUCCEEDED, then the extension was loaded in its entirety (all function pointers accounted for, if it has some). Otherwise, some number of function pointers failed to load. To get the number of functions that failed to load for the extension, take the integer value and subtract LOAD_SUCCEEDED from it.

The return value for the function loader works mostly the same way. LOAD_FAILED does not signal the failure to load the core functions or some extensions. It signals the failure of the process to work at all. This is for something very basic, like the failure to get the function pointers needed to get the extension string. Without the extension string, we cannot detect what should and shouldn't be loaded. Therefore, if this is returned, nothing was loaded.

For non-fail states, the value works like for the individual extension variables, except that the number that failed to load refer to core functions. So for specs that don't load core functions, it will always return LOAD_SUCCEEDED.

Also, this style will generate functions to query the version of the OpenGL context. They are:

  • <prefix>ogl_GetMajorVersion(): Returns an integer identifying the major version number of this OpenGL context.
  • <prefix>ogl_GetMinorVersion(): Returns an integer identifying the minor version number of this OpenGL context.
  • <prefix>ogl_ogl_IsVersionGEQ(int majorVersion, int minorVersion): Returns non-zero if the current context version is larger than or equal to the given major and minor versions.


This example is for loading the OpenGL functions; it expects the OpenGL header generated by glLoadGen to be included. For loading WGL/GLX functions, include their headers and change the "ogl"s to "wgl" or "glx" as appropriate.

//Create OpenGL context and make it current.

int loaded = ogl_LoadFunctions();
if(loaded == ogl_LOAD_FAILED)
  //The context cannot work with the generated headers for some reason. Abort.
  //Destroy the context

int num_failed = loaded - ogl_LOAD_SUCCEEDED;
printf("Number of functions that failed to load: %i.\n", num_failed);

The presence of extensions can be checked as follows:

if(ogl_ext_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc != ogl_LOAD_FAILED)
  glCompressedTexSubImage2D(GL_TEXTURE_2D, 0, 0, 0, 256, 256,
    GL_COMPRESSED_RGBA_S3TC_DXT5_EXT, compressedSize, compressedPixels);
  void *decompressedPixels = DecompressPixels(256, 256,
    compressedSize, compressedPixels);

  glTexSubImage2D(GL_TEXTURE_2D, 0, 0, 0, 256, 256,
    GL_RGBA, GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE, decompressedPixels);

Of course, this requires asking for the EXT_texture_compression_s3tc extension on the command-line (or in a referenced file).


When you use this system and provide a version number of OpenGL, pointer_c will assume that you are serious about that version number. Which means that if you create a 3.3 header, and you do not supply a context that claims support for at least OpenGL version 3.3, loading failure may occur.

In particular, OpenGL changed the mechanism to check for the presence/absence of extensions in version 3.0. Therefore, pointer_c will also change how it checks for the presence/absence of extensions based on that. If you provide a version 3.0 or greater, it will use the new style. Thus, if your context is only version 2.1, then this style will be unable to function and will return LOAD_FAILED.


This style is intended to be maximally compatible with regular OpenGL programs. You should be able to take this header and include it into a standard GL program and use it as is. Furthermore, it should be compatible with other systems like FreeGLUT, GLFW, and so forth, as it provides information in the way that traditional OpenGL headers do.

However, in all cases, you should include these generated headers before anything from FreeGLUT, GLFW, etc.