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Apple drops QuickDraw 3D in favour of OpenGL

Open graphics standard to be integrated into MacOS, made standard Mac 3D API

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As a sign that it has finally abandoned the 'not invented here' philosophy that dogged it for most of its life, Apple has licensed the industry-standard 3D graphics technology, OpenGL, and said it will use the Silicon Graphics API in preference to its own, more sophisticated QuickDraw 3D API. OpenGL will be integrated into future versions of the MacOS, said interim CEO Steve Jobs, speaking at this year's MacWorld Expo, held in San Francisco. Jobs declined to specify which release of the operating system will be the first to support OpenGL, but its likely to be sooner rather than later. QuickDraw 3D was developed in the early 90s to provide the Mac with a system-wide 3D graphics engine to help it better compete with Unix workstations, most of which were using and continue to use OpenGL. In the end, QuickDraw 3D made little impact on Apple's ability to compete in that arena, but fared slightly better as an enabling technology for 3D games acceleration (much in the same way as Microsoft's Direct3D API), a role that led to OpenGL's widespread adoption by the Wintel gaming world. Indeed, it's as much for that market as for the more high end stuff that Apple has licensed OpenGL now, a move that received vocal support from leading 3D games developers, specifically Id Software's John Carmack, programmer of Doom, Quake, Quake II and Quake Arena. Carmack has been calling for Apple to adopt OpenGL for some time. Most of Id's games were developed under NeXTStep/OpenStep (both of which use OpenGL), and not DOS/Windows, even though that's where they were destined to be played. While Carmack has been fairly keen on Rhapsody/MacOS X, both derived from NeXTStep, thanks to Apple's purchase of Jobs' old company, Apple's insistence on sticking with its proprietary QuickDraw 3D API rather than embracing OpenGL drew much barbed comment from the shoot-'em-up supremo. Now he can have his favourite OS 'back', Carmack is clearly a happy fellow, and went as far as to commit to a simultaneous release of Quake Arena on the Mac and the PC. He also gave the first public demo of the new title using a Power Mac G3. It's fairly certain that all this means QuickDraw 3D will soon be dead. Jobs said that Apple "will make OpenGL the standard API for developers". Fortunately, there are only a couple of Mac games that support solely QuickDraw 3D as a way of accessing graphics acceleration hardware -- 3Dfx titles are rather more commonplace -- and few serious software tools that require it. And most QuickDraw 3D functions can be easily mapped onto OpenGL or other APIs to ensure compatibility. ®

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