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OpenGL 3.1 promise follows gamer revolt

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Exclusive Graphics and games engineers angered by the delayed OpenGL spec and threatening to adopt Microsoft's DirectX have been asked to hold out a little longer for promised changes.

Neil Trevett, president of the cross-industry Khronos Group leading OpenGL, told The Reg on Tuesday that his consortium hoped to start the process of streamlining OpenGL with version 3.1.

Trevett also personally hopes OpenGL 3.1 can be delivered in six months' time, as opposed to the two years it took to craft 3.0, which was released on Monday.

The key to delivering the changes is the introduction of a deprecation mechanism for the first time in OpenGL's 16-year history with this week's release.

The deprecation mechanism will let OpenGL planners flag up features that'll be removed from the next version of the 2D and 3D graphics rendering and visualization spec, so programmers and CAD designers are prepared.

"OpenGL 3.0 is a solid step in the direction of making OpenGL more streamlined," Trevett - also a vice president of Khronos member Nvidia - said. "There's already stuff in 3.0 that's marked and that will come out by 3.1."

Trevett was speaking in the wake of a firestorm over OpenGL 3.0, which many feel basically failed to deliver on changes that were promised despite a six-month delay and coming two years after the previous update. The objective of version 3.0? A fundamental revision of the API, to speed performance and ease development.

Buttons pushed

Such has been the expletive-filled reception to OpenGL 3.0 that Khronos' web master has turned censor and deleted words considered offensive from the barrage of comments on the OpenGL message boards. People have also been asked to mind their language.

The final spec was branded a let-down, undeserving of the 3.0 moniker, with calls for members of the Khronos consortium to step down.

"Khronos Group should be ashamed of themselves," user glDan wrote on the discussion board. "The Khronos Group should resign after this folly. They have not shown ANY leadership, and only ended up pissing off the entire OpenGL community."

Another commenter, Eckos, fell foul of the Khronos' web master: "This is fucking horse [censored]. We wait for two years for nothing?"

The CAD industry was widely scapegoated as responsible for delivery of a spec seen as not living up to the promised re-write.

"Thanks CAD people for screwing us over because you're so damn lazy to update your piece of junk software. Man it seems the only way to go about anything now is the Microsoft way, so Microsoft wins yet again. I see why no games are developed in OpenGL now," Eckos said.

"When will we ever get a real pure OpenGL 3.0 instead of this junk?"

Trevett said the re-write was simply too much to engineer at the time. OpenGL is used in massive range of scenarios and supported by AMD, Apple, Intel, Dolby, Ericsson, Panasonic, Nokia and Symbian to name just a few of the 100 Khronos members.

Trevett reckoned that while people worked on the big goal of shrinking OpenGL the delays this produced meant companies relying on the API had been unable to take advantage of latest changes in hardware.

"Games are rebuilt every generation," Trevett said. "CAD programs can't have stuff disappear at short notice."

He added that while OpenGL 3.0 isn't as streamlined as people were hoping it would be, the deprecation mechanism is a step towards that bigger goal while giving people in CAD a chance to find out what's going to disappear ahead of time, and to prepare accordingly. ®

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