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OpenGL VBO .obj .3ds and some concept questions

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So I have .obj file and I want to load it into opengl app using VBO and GL_ELEMENT_ARRAY_BUFFER. It's no production code so I don't care about performance (I'll consider it later). I have trouble "conveting" uv, vertex, and indices data to ones "VBO-friendly".

I'm using C++ and not much libraries. I'm learning opengl so I do not wish to use some engines or scene graphs. I understand very well C++ and pretty much opengl. I've written .obj importer and display of object but using immediate mode. Now I have switched to OpenGL 3.3 and I don't care about .obj normals (I'll consider/recalculate them later).

I have some example where .3ds loader is used and no data manipulation is done. Just loaded from .3ds to array and from arrays to opengl. My 3D content creating application doesn't have .3ds exporter but I can make one except I don't know how. I know technical details (C#, plugin writing etc...) but I don't know how to convert some vertex/uv/faces data to .3ds or to let's call it "VBO-friendly".

For example, a triangulated cube, has 8 vertices, 20 UVs and 12 faces in .obj file (I suppose same would be for my application component object model if I were writing a plugin). On the other hand .3ds file has 20 vertices, 20 UVs and 12 faces.

I understand texel and vertex array need to be same size so indices from GL_ELEMENT_ARRAY_BUFFER would reference elements of those arrays. How can I convert .obj data into .3ds/vbo-friendly data. Where do additional 12 vertices came from for that cube example. I have managed to do some kind of conversion but when I tried another model it didn't work.

I've gone through some examples and loaders but some are just too complex, and another are lame. How would you translate data from .obj to .3ds ? (That seems like the best option, I translate to .3ds style and use that data).

P.S. I have read any topic and article I could find about ".obj to opengl"

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A difference in amount of vertices while representing the same geometrical shape usually indicates these vertices contain texture coordinates or normals since these are unique for each face a vertex is part of. Sometimes texture coordinates and normals will be omitted from the vertices and will be stored elsewhere which then can be accessed by some sort of indexing.
About converting the file format i would use one of the many modelling tools available which can import / export from / to whatever you want. However, in your case it might be better to look into a file loading library. I know for example that the FBX sdk can import .obj. You could also look at assimp which seems to be doing it's job very well.
If you resent using libraries you need to learn the fileformat and write an importer by yourself, this will keep you occupied thus not learning OpenGL for a while though.

p.s. texels are texture pixels, you probably ment texture coordinates / uv's here?

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Oh, yes I did. Got mixed up hehe. About fileformats I know structures of both and it's no problem writing importer/exporter. But generating data to be written is a little bit more difficult. Let's say writing a converter for .obj to .3ds. No problem reading .obj file; no problem writing .3ds file. But if I have cube that has 8 vertices in .obj file (triangulated), I don't know which 20 vertices to write to .3ds file.

Note that when I would be able to convert correctly I could override generating .3ds file and feed that data into opengl directly. I'm just using .3ds as a valid reference for data structure that can be passed to opengl directly without modification.

For cube if I have 8 vertices 20 uvs and 12 faces, I need to use those 12 faces that contain uv and vertices array indices to generate total of 20 vertices and new array of 12 triangles (face in .3ds and my vbo data is triangle). Now I'm in process of learning and would like to figure this thing out without using external libraries and it would be very unpractical if I would have to rely on external 3D apps for .obj23ds conversion only. I've seen assimp but not tried it. That and OSG are my final resort and will try not to use them (what would I learn if otherwise). Going through some books and forums I'm trying to save my self hours and days of reading codebase of those two and trying to understand how they dealt with this.

Back to cube example, here's how C++ arrays look after loading .3ds file:

delak.jpg

And here's .obj:

http://pastebin.com/LXjbTjsX

I have no problem getting that .obj to C++ arrays (vectors, anything...). Now what I need is to convert that data to data/arrays in image above (which are from .3ds file of same cube). I have tried some of mine observations but they only worked (kind of) on cube example and none other. Maybe the whole idea I have is wrong. I just want to transfer data from 3D app to opengl using VBO and glDrawElements and I thought simplest way was .obj (I don't have .3ds exporter and cannot use some other 3d app)

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I think I have found a solution. Basicly all I do is go for each faceitem I test if new vertices array contains vertex from old array that has index of i-th polyface. If it does I check uvmap arrays also, and if both match I can add that old index into indices array else I add new vertex/uv to their arrays. There's gonna be more problems I expect but I've tried few models and this method works.

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