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OpenGL stands for Open Graphics Library and is a specification of a cross-language cross-platform API for developing portable, interactive 2D and 3D graphics applications. It is the industry's most widely used and supported 2D and 3D graphics application programming interface (API), bringing thousands of applications to a wide variety of computer platforms. It incorporates a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects, and other powerful visualization functions.
It is suitable for 3D animation development, CAD and other related, resource hungry tasks that require very high levels of performance from a system. The OpenGL Architecture Review Board, guides the OpenGL specification, and it is the only truly open, vendor-neutral, multi platform graphics standard. It competes with DirectX, Microsoft's package of API for video and audio development and processing that is used for Games for Windows titles on the PC, and with the Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles.
OpenGL API-based applications can run on systems ranging from consumer electronics to PCs, workstations, and supercomputers. As a result, applications can scale to any class of machine that the developer chooses to target. Supported on all Unix workstations, and shipped standard with every Windows 95/98/2000/NT and MacOS PC, no other graphics API operates on a wider range of hardware platforms and software environments. OpenGL is callable from Ada, C, C++, Fortran, Python, Perl and Java and offers complete independence from network protocols and topologies.