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Whether it is for the purposes of work, education, general development or just curiosity, there are a few guidelines that can be followed to help choose the best OpenGL® projects. In general, the project should have requirements that are within the range of skills for the programmer or team that will be working on it. Additionally, the project concept should be clear and the results well defined to avoid needless coding that might be considered unnecessary. The specific hardware requirements also should be spelled out, because the exact type of OpenGL® programming can sometimes be dictated by the target hardware. The project also should involve a section of OpenGL® that is interesting to the programmer, especially when dealing with projects that are largely academic in nature.
One of the first aspects to be aware of when choosing from different OpenGL® projects is the level of ability needed to complete it. Simple OpenGL® projects, such as developing a two-dimensional (2D) windowing system, can be excellent exercises in functional development, while other projects, such as creating a physics-based renderer, could require a very specialized level of technical and mathematical detail. The specifics of the project need to be examined before it is taken up to ensure that there is no one single element that could become a stumbling block as it progresses.
The actual portion of OpenGL® with which the project deals also can be important. Some parts of OpenGL®, such as shaders, are very involved and sometimes require an entirely separate set of skills to master. Programmers who are not interested in or experienced in the area of OpenGL® programming for which the project calls might want to avoid the project altogether.
For OpenGL® projects that target specific hardware platforms, it is important to know exactly what the hardware is and how the applications being written can be tested on them. If the hardware has yet to reach the consumer market, then the project cannot be effectively tested until either a sample of the hardware is made available or a software emulator is supplied. More often than not, an emulator for the hardware suffices.
When dealing with OpenGL® projects that will be used for commercial purposes, contracts and other conditions are usually laid out at the start of the project. This might not always be the case for community-developed projects and academic projects. If there is a possibility that the software or source code for the project will be distributed in some form, then it is vital to establish the exact context in which the programmers fit into the project so there are no legal or other misunderstandings in the future.
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