What is OpenGL?

What is OpenGL?

OpenGL stands for Open Graphics Library, which is a collection of commands to create 2D and 3D graphics. With OpenGL, you can create complicated 3D shapes using very basic primitives such as points, lines, polygons, bitmaps, and images.

Here are a few features of OpenGL −

  • It can work on multiple platforms.
  • It has bindings in several languages such as C++, Python, etc
  • It can render 2D and 3D vector graphics.
  • It interacts with Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) for achieving speedy and high quality rendering. Rendering is the process of creating an image from a 2D or 3D model.
  • It is an industry standard API for writing 3D Graphics applications. For example, games, screensavers, etc.
  • It contains around 150 commands, which programmers can use to specify objects and operations to develop applications.
  • It contains OpenGL Utility Library (GLU) that provides various modeling features, such as quadric surfaces and NURBS curves. GLU is a standard component of OpenGL.
  • The design of OpenGL is focused on efficiency, effectiveness, and its implementation on multiple platforms using multiple languages. To maintain simplicity of an OpenGL API, windowing tasks are not included.

Therefore, OpenGL depends on other programming languages for windowing tasks.

Java Binding for OpenGL API

It is a Java Specification Request (JSR) API specification, which allows to use OpenGL on Java platform.

Specifications Details
JSR 231 This Java binding package supports Java SE platform.
JSR 239 This Java binding package supports Java ME platform.

There are various OpenGL bindings in Java. They are discussed below


It is known as OpenGL for Java technology. It has links to OpenGL 1.3 and to nearly all vendor extensions. Also, it can be used with Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) and Swings. It is a game focused OpenGL binding, which is a single window that displays full screen applications.


  • Light Weight Java Game Library (LWJGL), uses OpenGL 1.5 and works with latest version of java.
  • It can use full screen capabilities of JSE 1.4. It has limited support for AWT/ Swings.
  • It is suitable for lightweight devices such as mobile phones, embedded devices, etc.


  • JOGL focuses only on 2D and 3D Rendering. The interfaces dealing with sound and input-output are not included in JOGL.
  • It includes Graphics Utility Library (GLU), GL Utility toolkit (GLUT), and its own API – Native Windowing Toolkit (NEWT).


  • It provides full access to the OpenGL APIs (version 1.0, 4.3, ES 1, ES 2 and ES 3) as well as nearly all the vendor extensions. Hence, all the features in OpenGL are included in JOGL.
  • JOGL integrates with the AWT, Swing, and Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT). It also includes its own Native Windowing Toolkit (NEWT). Hence, it provides complete support for windowing.

History of JOGL

  • 1992 − Silicon Graphics Inc. released the first OpenGL specification.
  • 2003 − Java.net website was launched with new features and JOGL was published for the first time on the same website.
  • 2010 − Since year 2010, it has been independent open source project under BSD license, which is a liberal license for computer software.

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