OpenGL and Java unite forces

Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) and Sun Microsystems Inc. announced plans on Monday to co-operate on developing Java bindings to the OpenGL application programming interface (API).

OpenGL is an open platform for developing 3D graphic APIs. Together with the Java programming language, the partnership will allow more developers more freedom to develop programs in the graphics area, said Mountain View, Calif.-based Shawn Underwood, director of marketing for SGI’s visual systems group.

“We are expanding the universe for developers,” Underwood said, adding that the development of Java bindings will also benefit OpenGL application developers because they will be able to write applications in a cross-platform environment.

The move by the companies provides developers with a consistent way to directly access the libraries of OpenGL.

Development of the bindings will involve submissions to the Java Community Process (JCP) and the OpenGL Architecture Review Board (ARB). The JCP is an open organization of international developers who develop and revise Java technology specifications. ARB is an industry-wide organization that governs the evolution and ongoing development of OpenGL.

Underwood said the two companies have been in discussions for a while to bring OpenGL and Java together, and that the need for the specifications to pass through both the JCP and the ARB was a mandatory step – one that likely delayed the marriage between the two companies.

Sun’s Rob Glidden, market development manager, broadband and digital media based in Menlo-Park, Calif. said there has been a strong demand and interest from the Java community in accessing OpenGL functionality.

“It’s long overdue to connect the graphics community and the Java community,” he said. “People have usually thought of Java as being a lightweight language, not [suitable] for hardcore graphics programming. People have tended to think of OpenGL as a C language type environment.

“The world has evolved and now the capabilities of Java and capabilities of OpenGL and the availability of devices with both Java and OpenGL on them really requires this marriage to give both communities access to what they are looking for,” Glidden said.

It will likely take another few months for the specifications to be passed by both the JCP and ARB.

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