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karpatzio

Abstraction with link time polymorphism - go high or stay low?

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When designing for multiple APIs\platforms, basically there are two options for abstracting differences between the APIs:

1) Defining the low level constructs such as buffers, textures, devices/contexts. And define the basic functioins such as drawing, uploading data to buffers etc. Then have a different implementation file for these constructs per API.

2) Managing these low level details in higher level classes such as perhaps VertexBuffer and Model classes and such, and also have per API implementation files.

Which option pays off more in the long run?
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In general I try to limit platform-specific code to low-level implementations of free functions. This allows the majority of code to be shared between platforms, since your high-level classes and whatnot can just be implemented in terms of your shared low-level interface. However for me this a guideline and not a rule. In practice I often have to consider things on a case-by-case basis, with my decision of where to split off platform code being based on the particulars of what I need to do as well as what platforms I'm working with. In cases where the functionality and optimal usage patterns vary greatly between platforms, I often have to split off into platform-specific code at much higher level. For instance, on PS3 it is common to perform vertex pre-processing on the SPU's as an optimization. This is generally not something you can do just by implementing a thin wrapper around a D3D/OpenGL-style rendering API, since it requires diverging at a higher level.
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If you've ever written (or tried writing) a GL-to-D3D wrapper you'll be fully aware of how nasty things get when you go too low. I'd strongly caution [i]against[/i] abstracting down to the level of individual API calls; while there is a lot of good commonality between the modern versions of both APIs there are still significant differences that throw things out of whack; vertex format specification and GL's bind to create/modify paradigm are two examples that can cause huge trouble (although GL4.3 will make the former easier when drivers become common). Edited by mhagain
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Thank you both!

I guess i'll just have to experiment with my code and walk into dead ends a couple of times until i do find some balanced scheme (for linux\windows\android\iOS at least).
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