GLSL Shader File
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What is a GLSL file?
A GLSL file contains shader properties in the GL Shading Language (GLSL), which is used to shade 3D graphics. It may store vertex, fragment, or both vertex and fragment properties that program how a 3D graphic appears in applications that utilize the Open Graphics Library (OpenGL). GLSL files are saved in plain text.
GLSL is a high-level shading language that features syntax similar to the C programming language. It is utilized by OpenGL, which is an application programming interface (API) that renders 2D and 3D graphics featured in applications across different platforms.
OpenGL is utilized by various applications, including video games, computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and artistic 3D visualization programs. Examples of applications featuring OpenGL include the Doom and Minecraft games, Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro, Autodesk AutoCAD and Maya, and Google Earth.
What are shaders?
Shaders give depth to 3D graphics by altering their color. It includes applying varying levels of color, light, darkness, hue, saturation, and contrast to vertices, pixels, and textures that make up a graphic.
GLSL shaders are run on a computer's graphics processing unit (GPU), which is a processor focused on handling graphics operations. By running on a GPU, shaders reduce the workload of the computer's central processing unit (CPU), which can then focus its resources on executing actual code.
There are two prominent types of GLSL shaders:
- Vertex - Shades a vertex, which is a point of a polygon where two lines meet; determines the coordinates of a vertex and the placement of graphics on the screen, subsequently; called once per vertex
- Fragment - Also known as a texture shader; shades a fragment, which is a pixel in a 3D image after the polygon has been rasterized; used to process color, shadows, and other effects
What other file extensions are used by GLSL shader files?
Several extensions may be used for files storing GLSL shader properties. Some common file extensions include:
How to open a GLSL file
You can open GLSL files with the tools included with OpenGL SDK (multiplatform) and Apple Xcode a macOS IDE. You can also open and edit GLSL files with source code editors, such as Microsoft Visual Studio Code (multiplatform).
Since GLSL files are saved in plain text, you can use any text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (bundled with Windows), Apple TextEdit (bundled with macOS), or gedit (Linux) to open and edit them. However, simple text editors do not provide helpful editing capabilities available with source code editors, like syntax highlighting.