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FinalShot

API?

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API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is a set of functions a library or system exposes so that you can use the library or system. Examples include the Win32 API which allows you to access functionality of the Windows operating system and the DirectX API which allows you to access graphics, sounds and other important game related functionality.

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Yes. OpenGL = Open Graphics Library.

OpenGL is an API specifically designed for interacting with your graphics hardware, much the same way the D3D component of DirectX allows you to interact with your graphics hardware.

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OpenGL (and Direct3D) basically stands in between you and the graphics driver/card. Different graphics drivers can have totally different internal architectures, and to cater to all of those would be a horrible pain*. Instead, you can use OpenGL and use exactly the same code, regardless of whether you're running on nVidia, ATI, 3dlabs, Voodoo, Matrox, etc.

*Back in the days of DOS, there was no standard way -- no standard API -- for interfacing with the sound card. Each company's cards, and even different cards from the same company, had to be dealt with differently. This meant that you had to write your code again, a little differently, for every single sound card. And if you were running on an unknown sound card, it simply wouldn't work.

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The API is the actual set of functions. An SDK is a software development kit, which is the thing you grab to get access to the API, like a download with the headers and link libraries.

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