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What Is an OpenGL® Array?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 17, 2024
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An OpenGL® array is a set of identifiers or parameters that helps programmers to work with this particular code language. OpenGL® is often used to render two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects. The array is a particular tool within OpenGL® that can help make some kinds of code writing easier or more efficient.

The OpenGL® language uses a variety of commands to draw elements of an image on the screen. The interface for this language often consists of Windows opened within a general operating system environment. A specific syntax helps programmers to create these visuals with OpenGL®.

In general, an array is a set of values that are housed within a common set identifier; in other words, parts of an array may have different values, but share the same name, where a secondary identifier shows which instance of the array is being targeted. In OpenGL®, arrays are often written in sequential form, with a comma in between each individual value.

Programmers and developers use arrays for many different outcomes. Often, the values in an array will represent various properties for a specific coding project. In the case of an OpenGL® array, these properties are frequently related directly to the object that will be drawn.

One very common kind of OpenGL® array is called a vertex array. The syntax for creating one of these is as follows: GL_VERTEX_ARRAY. When created, these arrays are associated with “pointers” that will help the computer figure out where to find the array values. The set of parentheses after a pointer will also include additional properties for the vertex array.

Another kind of OpenGL® array is a color array. The syntax and procedure for array creation for color arrays is identical to those for the vertex array. Experts point out that for both of these kinds of arrays in OpenGL®, it’s necessary for programmers to enable and disable a “client state” in order to effectively create these ranges of values.

These and other types of arrays make coding in OpenGL®, and other languages, more effective. By creating arrays, the developer avoids the necessity of hand coding each of the values in the array individually. In many cases, the primary benefit of an array is that if one value is changed, the programmer doesn’t have to represent all of the values in subsequent coding, since correct use of the pointer and array syntax can allow for access of a single array value or variable.

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