3D graphics have become so popular, particularly in video games, that specialized APIs (application programming interfaces) have been created to ease the processes in all stages of computer graphics generation. These APIs have also proved vital to computer graphics hardware manufacturers, as they provide a way for programmers to access the hardware in an abstract way, while still taking advantage of the special hardware of any specific graphics card.
The first 3D graphics framework was probably Core, published by the ACM in 1977.
Low-level 3D APIEdit
These APIs for 3D computer graphics are particularly popular:
- Direct3D (a subset of DirectX)
- Mantle developed by AMD.
- Metal developed by Apple.
- OptiX 7.0 and Latest developed by NVIDIA.
- OpenGL and the OpenGL Shading Language
- OpenGL ES 3D API for embedded devices
- QuickDraw 3D developed by Apple Computer starting in 1995, abandoned in 1998
- ANGLE, web browsers graphics engine, a cross-platform version of the OpenGL wrapper for the web
High-level 3D APIEdit
There are also higher-level 3D scene-graph APIs which provide additional functionality on top of the lower-level rendering API. Such libraries under active development include:
- Crystal Space
- HOOPS 3D Graphics System
- Irrlicht Engine
- Java 3D
- Java FX
- JMonkey Engine
- JT Open from Siemens Digital Industries Software
- Mobile 3D Graphics API (M3G; JSR-184)
- OpenGL Performer
- OpenSceneGraph (now obsolete OSG.JS for WebPlatforms)
- Zea Engine
There is more interest in web browser based high-level API for 3D graphics engines. Some are: