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I've recently purchased the Orange book( GLSL ) and am wondering if it is important at all to read through the red and blue books as well?

Any thoughts?

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If you're not familiar with the content, the Red Book is available for free online, and the Blue Book is just a printed copy of the OpenGL man pages. People slammed the newest edition of the Red Book on Amazon reviews because they said it had only OpenGL 1.1, with simply the words "This section deprecated - do not use" in front. I haven't read the new Red Book myself though. – bobobobo Aug 16 '11 at 15:57
@bobobobo Well, it doesn't have only 1.1, it also treats newer features (upto 3.1, I think), but it also covers all of the old deprecated features, that just don't fit to modern OpenGL (and won't even work in a core context), istead of teaching the new and future way of OpenGL, like the newest edition of the SuperBible does. – Christian Rau Aug 22 '11 at 22:41
@Joey Maybe this SO question is also of help to you: – Christian Rau Aug 22 '11 at 22:45
up vote 8 down vote accepted

GLSL is just the shading language. It doesn't deal with where vertex data comes from, where textures come from, fragment blending, depth testing, the viewport, framebuffer objects, etc. Shaders are important, but they're not everything.

While I'm sure the Orange Book talks about these, as necessary for discussing GLSL, it doesn't go into the detail that other books would.

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I found my first edition (June 1993) copy of the red book (covering OpenGL 1.0) was sufficient and roughly equivalent to GLES 1 on the iPhone. GLSL and OpenGL 3+ are very different (no more fixed pipelines), and I wouldn't bother with the red book unless you need to support GLES 1.

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I'd wait to get the red book(if you are going to buy it), a new version is on the way (December?) that covers OpenGL 4.2. The current (7th edition) red book covers both 3.0 and 3.1 and talks about the deprecated fixed function pipeline stuff. The new book will only talk about the current programmable pipeline.

If you really need a book to learn the new OpenGL API the OpenGL Superbible 5th edition is the only book in the series that covers the new OpenGL pipeline (3.1 and higher).

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It seems like the last version of the blue book is from 2007(Open GL 2.1) and the last version of the red book is from 2009 (Open GL 3.0 - 3.1).

The current version of Open GL is 4.1 (Edit: 4.2)

I would try getting my hands on something newer, although knowing legacy Open GL might be useful if you're going to read and maintain old open gl code.

Hope this helps.

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The current version of OpenGL is 4.2. – Nicol Bolas Aug 16 '11 at 21:18
Ah yeah. I actually read this article here when I did research for my answer. Brainfart I guess.… – Nailer Aug 17 '11 at 8:14

The red book is fine, like others said you can still get value from it for a lot of things, particularly if you ever need to code for embedded and/or downlevel hardware that may not support shaders. Beware though that the free version online is hideously outdated.

I also make occasional use of the blue book, but that's because I like a good reference manual with everything in the one place, and I prefer dead tree to electronic for this kind of thing.

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