gltut / Documents / preface.xml

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<preface xmlns="http://docbook.org/ns/docbook" xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"
    xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" version="5.0">
    <?dbhtml filename="About these Tutorials.html" ?>
    <title>About this Book</title>
    <para>This book is structured as a series of programming tutorials. Most chapters of the book
        represent a series of tutorials on a particular subject. These tutorials build on one
        another, demonstrating various 3D graphics programming techniques.</para>
    <para>This book is designed for a beginning graphics programmer. To make use of this book, you
        are expected to know the following</para>
    <itemizedlist>
        <listitem>
            <para>C/C++ programming. You should be able to read C and mild C++. If <quote>Hello,
                world!</quote> is the extent of your C/C++ knowledge, then perhaps you
                should write some more substantial code before proceeding with trying to render
                images.</para>
            <para>These tutorials should be transferable to other languages as well. If you can
                read C/C++, that is enough to understand what the code is doing. The text
                descriptions that explain what the code does are also sufficient to get
                information out of these tutorials.</para>
        </listitem>
        <listitem>
            <para>Basic geometry and algebra math. The tutorials will present the more advanced
                math needed for graphics, but you should have at least a working knowledge of
                geometry and algebra. Linear algebra is not required, though it would be
                helpful.</para>
        </listitem>
    </itemizedlist>
    <note condition="web">
        <title>Browser Note</title>
        <para>This website and these tutorials make extensive use of SVG images. Basic SVG
            support is in all major browsers except any version of Internet Explorer. And even
            though IE has the dominant marketshare, I'm afraid that these images will remain SVG
            images. If you are content with Internet Explorer, consider installing the Google
            Chrome Frame add-on for IE8. This will allow you to see the images correctly.</para>
    </note>
    <section>
        <title>Yet Another OpenGL Tutorial?</title>
        <para><phrase condition="web">If you are here, then you are clearly interested in 3D
                graphics programming with OpenGL. </phrase>There are a lot of materials, online and
            in book form, that you chould use. So why should you use this book instead of
            another?</para>
        <para>Programmable graphics cards have been around, in one form or another, for almost
            10 years. Programmability as a core features has been around in OpenGL for almost 5
            years; various vendor-specific API extensions have been around even longer.</para>
        <para>Yet despite the ubiquity of programmability in the lives of most graphics developers,
            using programmability is often considered advanced material. Many 3D graphics teaching
            materials focus on doing what they consider the easy things: using the OpenGL
            fixed-function pipeline.</para>
        <para>This indeed makes it very easy to actually accomplish something. If you want to
            have a camera with a perspective projection over a scene of objects in a
            well-defined world, these tutorials can show you how. They give you an effective
            list of rules and API commands to execute in a particular order to achieve a certain
            effect. But what they are terrible at is actually imparting
            <emphasis>knowledge</emphasis> upon the reader.</para>
        <para>It is easy to show someone how to use <function>gluLookAt</function>,
                <function>gluPerspective</function>, and other functions to make everything simply
            come out right. But because these functions hide the details of what is going on under
            the hood, what the reader is often left with is a set of rules for how to make things
            work: put this line of code in this place, and you get this effect.</para>
        <para>Without the foundation of knowledge of what these functions actually are
            <emphasis>doing</emphasis>, the reader is effectively living in a world of
            copy-and-paste code. The reader can parrot code they found in a tutorial, but they
            don't know why it works. And if they should copy it incorrectly or use it in the
            wrong circumstances, they do not have the foundation of knowledge to diagnose the
            problem and find a solution.</para>
        <para>Without a real body of knowledge, such persons will quickly find using the
            programmable functionality in OpenGL to be confusing and disorienting. Stripped of all
            of the convenience functionality, such persons are left to their own devices. This is
            doubly so, considering that while there are a lot of OpenGL tutorials and books, very
            few of them go into any real depth in terms of programmability.</para>
        <para>This book is designed first and foremost to <emphasis>teach</emphasis> the reader
            valuable information about how graphics works. To this end, each and every tutorials
            will use the OpenGL Shading Language and all modern (as of OpenGL 3.3) features of the
            API. This makes it impossible to gloss over seemingly minor yet critical information
            about how various features of the language and graphics hardware actually work.</para>
        <note>
            <para>As a side-effect, these tutorials all require OpenGL 3.3-capable hardware and
                drivers. This means any GeForce 8xxx or better, or any Radeon HD-class card.
                These are also called <quote>Direct3D 10</quote> cards, but you do not need
                Windows Vista or 7 to use their advanced features through OpenGL.</para>
        </note>
        <para>This does not mean that you need to have read other tutorials first. As previously
            stated, this book is intended primarily for the beginning graphics programmer. These
            tutorials are in-depth, but they are also designed to break complex subjects down into
            easily understood sections.</para>
        <para>Because of this, these tutorials are not merely heavily commented source code. Indeed,
            the source code is usually secondary, used only as a way to show how to implement the
            concept that was previously discussed. In most cases, the entire source code for a
            tutorial will not be shown within that tutorial; only the relevant new sections of code
            will be described.</para>
    </section>
</preface>
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