So I came back to my main project after a couple of years away and GL has changed quite a lot! I have familiarized myself with the new 4.4 specs for the API and GLSL, and now am left with questions of best-practices.
My old engine used interleaved vertex arrays to provide vertex data, which appears to still be possible via glVertexAttrib using the stride parameter, but it occurred to me that it might be better from an engine design standpoint to use separate buffers. These buffers could by dynamically bound to vertex shader inputs based on interrogation of the shader program. i.e. use consistent naming of vertex shader inputs (e.g. 'vertex', 'normal', 'uv' etc.) and map these to separate attribute buffers in my geometry objects. This would essentially make my vertex formats data driven by the shader, and allow for easy detection of mismatches between vertex data and shader requirements. Good idea, or overkill (or just a total misapprehension!)?
The second question I have is regarding buffer backed uniform blocks. It want to use the unsized array feature (last member of block can be an unsized array, size defined by your API call) for light specifications, material specifications to match material IDs (my renderer uses deferred lighting), and cascaded shadow frustum matrices. Is this an appropriate use, or is there a more canonical method?
My head is buzzing with new ideas and I haven't even got to the tessellation stages yet (something about awesome water)!