OpenGL Has Erupted

DISCLAIMER: The following are my own personal opinions and are not shared, sanctioned, or endorsed by anyone in particular, especially my employers, past or present. This is a fleeting personal remark with positive intentions and no connection with anybody’s relationships, business plans, or office politics. Anyone who tries to spin it into anything else is an irresponsible windbag.

A while ago I said that OpenGL was broken. Reactions were mixed. Some people loved it. Others flamed it. I received dirty looks from OpenGL folks who were justifiably upset. In an ironic coincidence, Apple’s Metal API was announced just a few days later.

Now that Vulkan has been presented, I feel obliged to write a post-script. Vulkan has shown that I was not alone in my assessment, and it is the best result I could have hoped for. It has addressed every issue I raised, and a few that I didn’t. It is forward-looking, ambitious, unprecedented, and should be a source of immense pride and satisfaction for all involved.

As a result of unfortunate historical events, the “OpenGL establishment” has a certain reputation for being obstinant and ineffective. They have been seen as reluctant followers and not as leaders. After Vulkan it should be obvious to everyone that this reputation is undeserved. Many of the folks behind Vulkan have spent their entire careers shepherding OpenGL, and they have had a very frustrating time of it. Half of the world complains about its problems, and the other half whines about the solutions. I want to conclude by tipping my hat to these people. They have my gratitude and my respect. They’ve earned it.

I also want to salute whoever came up with this brilliant name. It is loaded with apt symbolism. The cracks in OpenGL’s crust have given way. Molten Mantle has produced a Volcano where Long’s Peak once loomed, and once it cools, it will change the landscape.