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.fx syntax and/or tutorial

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I'd like to better understand effect (.fx) files.  Up to know I've used individual shader functions in .hlsl files, but being able to group multiple functions, and shader state in a single file is something I'd like to do.  Unfortunately even after Google-ing around for a few hours I cannot seem to get any relevant info on them.  I've downloaded a number of different examples but they all seem to use different syntax.  For example some use:

VertexShader = compile vs_5_0 vertex_shader();

while others use:

SetVertexShader( CompileShader(vs_5_0,vertex_shader()) );

What's the difference?  What shader state can I set?  What are the types?  Is it better to use global variables or constant buffers?  Ect...

 

I can't seem to find a good tutorial or examples.  Even the samples I could find on MSDN were sparse at best.  I don't need info on how to compile or run the .fx files (thats all well documented) but rather what additional features/types/states/ect... do .fx files have that isn't found in normal hlsl files?

Edited by Ryan_001

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