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HLSL for Dummies

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I've discovered a rather neat method of PS/VS and that is using HLSL. Apparently is use's fx files to do its dirty work. I have been reviewing the HLSL Workshop tutorial with the SDK and using EffectEdit to go through some of the tutorials of FX file manipulation. I got a pretty nice looking skull going on :) My problems are many and my questions are going unanswered. Instead of asking a million questions and getting a jargon of answers I feel the best question is: Is there a book or an article or a tutorial which defines HLSL and what it exactly is for Dummies. I am completly clueless on this topic, I need a lamen's approach. Thanks, Halsafar

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I would recommend you to download this pdf file from ATI’s developer site. In my opinion, this tutorial is very helpful and interesting.
http://www.ati.com/developer/ShaderX2_IntroductionToHLSL.pdf

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Indeed, a very nice tutorial. I read the first page and skimmed the rest, a very interesting read indeed. I shall sit down and study the entire document.

I would love a sample application on the side to show an FX file in action for rendering basic primitives so I can look at some of the theory and see it in work. Please do not recommend the SDK sample as it does not provide the basics, just a huge wrap around the framework which is ugly and difficult to navigate.

This HLSL seems like a rather diffucult task to tackle. All help is appreciated.

Thanks,
Halsafar

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Take a look at this book. As a COMPLETE DX noob it is a great way to get started from square one, up through shader introductions, etc.

J

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Even though it's focus is animation, there is a very clear and concise HLSL sample in the DirectMesh SDK. Basically, to render a primitive using HLSL, you need to take the following steps:

Initialization
(1) Compile the effect (D3DXCreateEffectFromFile*())
(2) Load all other resources (textures, ect...)

Rendering
(1) ID3DXEffect::Begin()
(2) For each pass:
   (2a) ID3DXEffect::BeginPass()
   (2b) Setup constants ID3DXEffect::SetValue()
   (2c) ID3DXEffect::CommitChanges()
   (2d) Setup device RS's, stream sources, ect... (like normal)
   (2e) Draw
   (2f) ID3DXEffect::EndPass()
(3) ID3DXEffect::End()

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Well I am not a DX Noob. But a certain part of the book will be indeed worth the read.



As for the code example, so I see that you render with the Effect in control (->BeginPass()). Thats pretty cool.

I will investigate the D3DMESH example as well.


Is this the prefered choice to aid in texture blending for terrain splatting?
Or is this just 'a' choice for PS/VS to aid in terrain texture splatting.

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Hi there,

HLSL stands for "High Level Shader Language" and it is just that - a way to write shaders (both PS and VS) in a language with a syntax somewhat like C instead of having to write them in assembly manually. It is a *great* tool and once you learn how to use it it'll increase your shader productivity a lot! (just like you can probably write more/better code in C++ than if you had to code in x86 assembly)

HLSL uses a compiler to compile your HLSL-shaders into "normal" assembly shaders which are then loaded and used by DX.

Effect files (.fx files) are another layer available in DX that *uses* HLSL shaders as well as being a tool for managing your shaders, render states, passes etc. It is actually not nessesary to use .fx files to use HLSL.

Thus you should consider HLSL a tool in writing shaders in general - not a tool for doing *specific* graphical things better/more easily. Which tasks that benefits from shaders is a completely seperate discussion from whether or not you should use HLSL.

Hope this clears things up a bit for you :)

- Kasper Fauerby

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