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OpenGL, or the Open Graphics Library, is a 3D graphics language developed by Silicon Graphics. Before OpenGL was available, software developers had to write unique 3D graphics code for each operating system platform as well as different graphics hardware. However, with OpenGL, developers can create graphics and special effects that will appear nearly identical on any operating system and any hardware that supports OpenGL. This makes it much easier for developers of 3D games and programs to port their software to multiple platforms.

So how exactly does OpenGL work? When programmers write OpenGL code, they specify a set of commands. Each command executes a drawing action or creates a special effect. Using hundreds or even thousands of these OpenGL commands, programmers can create 3D worlds which can include special effects such as texture mapping, transparency (alpha blending), hidden surface removal, antialiasing, fog, and lighting effects. An unlimited amount of viewing and modeling transformations can be applied to the OpenGL objects, giving developers an infinite amount of possibilities.

Published: 2003

Definition from the PC Glossary