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This is an FAQ for the Graphics and 3D Programming forum. It is freely editable. Let's get helpful and accurate answers. The intended approach, here, is a concepts-first overview. Actual questions about the concepts and tools can be added as extras.

  • What is 3D programming?

    • Code which attempts, in non-trivial ways, to visually portray objects so humans perceive them as having depth, in addition to the usual height and width available on monitors.

  • What tools are available?

    • Java OpenGL (JOGL). This is just a wrapper around OpenGL. Books and other knowledge port almost instantly.

    • JavaFX Scene. JavaFX, the GUI technology, includes a 3D scene graph.

    • Java3D. This dates back to around 2000, but has been losing mindshare to JavaFx.

    • Ray casting techniques. This is an advanced technique which can yield more realism, but at a cost in terms of rendering speed. All things change, however.

  • What concepts must be addressed?

    • Projection or Perspective - how to layout Z dimension and how x and y are perceived

    • Coordinates - world, object, eye, etc.

    • Z order - how to arrange things that occlude one another

    • Geometry - how to represent some real-world object in a 3D scene

    • Clipping - don't pay cycles for what the user cannot see

    • Focus - what part of the scene do is visible, and from what direction

    • Lighting - making surfaces look more realistic.

    • Coloring - applying required colors, including texturing if applicable

    • Animation - it looks like it's moving

    • Picking - selecting one object in the scene, or figuring out where in world coordinates the pointing device was clicked

    • Level of detail - making the scene 'busy' or 'blurry' depending on proximity

    • Performance - balancing all the above with metrics like frame rate

  • What's the difference between OpenGL and Java OpenGL?

    • Java OpenGL, or JOGL, is a thin layer atop the OpenGL C library and JNI.

    • JOGL is, according to this link, "...the Java™ Binding for the OpenGL® API, and is designed to provide hardware-supported 3D graphics to applications written in Java."

    • Since they are so similar, reference materials on OpenGL can be used with little mental translation, for JOGL concepts.

    • Being part of the Java Virtual Machine, byte order differs internal-to-java, vs the GPU.

    • One of the 'seams' between Java and OpenGL, is that Java NIO buffers must be used to push data back and forth (edit: when working with VBO's)

  • Books

    • Foundations of 3D Computer Graphics, by Steven J. Gortler. Dense, conceptual book on the concepts.

    • The OpenGL Super Bible. Big, fat book, with lots of examples. All C.

    • OpenGL Programming Guide, from the same source as the super bible.

    • Interactive Computer Graphics, by Edward Angel and Dave Shreiner. Covers techniques, and builds up with theory.

    • 3D User Interfaces with Java 3D, by Jon Barilleaux. This addresses most or all the concepts listed above, for Java3D.

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