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OpenGL ES commands require a rendering context and a drawing surface. The rendering context stores the appropriate OpenGL ES state. The drawing surface is the surface to which primitives will be drawn. The drawing surface specifies the types of buffers that are required for rendering, such as a color buffer, depth buffer, and stencil buffer. The drawing surface also specifies the bit depths of each of the required buffers.

The OpenGL ES API does not mention how a rendering context is created or how the rendering context gets attached to the native windowing system. EGL is one interface between the Khronos rendering APIs such as OpenGL ES and the native window system; there is no hard-and-fast requirement to provide EGL when implementing OpenGL ES. Developers should refer to the platform vendor’s documentation to determine which interface is supported. As of this writing, the only known platform supporting OpenGL ES that does not support EGL is iOS.

Any OpenGL ES application will need to perform the following tasks using EGL before any rendering can begin:

  • Query the displays that are available on the device and initialize them. For example, a flip phone might have two LCD panels, and it is possible that we might use OpenGL ES to render to surfaces that can be displayed on either or both panels.
  • Create a rendering surface. Surfaces created in EGL can be categorized as on-screen surfaces or off-screen surfaces. On-screen surfaces are attached to the native window system, whereas off-screen surfaces are pixel buffers that do not get displayed but can be used as rendering surfaces. These surfaces can be used to render into a texture and can be shared across multiple Khronos APIs.
  • Create a rendering context. EGL is needed to create an OpenGL ES rendering context. This context needs to be attached to an appropriate surface before rendering can actually begin.

The EGL API implements the features just described as well as additional functionality such as power management, support for multiple rendering contexts in a process, sharing objects (such as textures or vertex buffers) across rendering contexts in a process, and a mechanism to get function pointers to EGL or OpenGL ES extension functions supported by a given implementation.

The latest version of the EGL specification is EGL version 1.4.

Programming with OpenGL ES 3.0

To write any OpenGL ES 3.0 application, you need to know which header files must be included and with which libraries your application needs to link. It is also useful to understand the syntax used by the EGL and GL command names and command parameters.

Libraries and Include Files

OpenGL ES 3.0 applications need to link with the following libraries: the OpenGL ES 3.0 library named libGLESv2.lib and the EGL library named libEGL.lib.

OpenGL ES 3.0 applications also need to include the appropriate ES 3.0 and EGL header files. The following include files must be included by any OpenGL ES 3.0 application:

#include <EGL/egl.h>
#include <GLES3/gl3.h>

egl.h is the EGL header file and gl3.h is the OpenGL ES 3.0 header file. Applications can optionally include gl2ext.h, which is the header file that describes the list of Khronos-approved extensions for OpenGL ES 2.0/3.0.

The header file and library names are platform dependent. The OpenGL ES working group has tried to define the library and header names and indicate how they should be organized, but this arrangement might not be found on all OpenGL ES platforms. Developers should, however, refer to the platform vendor’s documentation for information on how the libraries and include files are named and organized. The official OpenGL ES header files are maintained by Khronos and available from http://khronos.org/registry/gles/. The sample code for the book also includes a copy of the header files (working with the sample code is described in the next chapter).

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