OpenGL Terminology

Confused with all the OpenGL terminology? I decided to help you out by compiling the most important OpenGL terminology worth knowing.

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OpenGL Buffers

Definition: An OpenGL Buffer is a linear block of untyped data. Think of it as generic memory allocations.

OpenGL Textures

Definition: A Texture is a data storage used to store multi-dimensional data, such as images.

OpenGL Samplers

Definition: A representation of a texture and sampling parameters in a shader.

Sampler Objects

Definition: A Sampler Object stores the wrapping & filtering parameters that control a texture.

Texture Unit

Definition: A Texture Unit contains a texture object & a sampler object.

Texture Object

Definition: A Texture Object contains data representing a texture.

Vertex Attribute

Definition: A Vertex Attribute is an input variable to a vertex shader.


Definition: A Uniform allows data to pass directly from your application to any shader stage.

Vertex Shader

Definition: A vertex shader computes & passes forward the coordinates of a model to the tessellation, geometry and fragment shader.

Fragment Shader

Definition: A Fragment Shader takes the output of the rasterizer and computes the color of the pixel for each fragment.

Tessellation Shader

Definition: A Tessellation Shader is capable of creating new geometry from existing geometry topology.

Geometry Shader

Definition: A Geometry Shader is capable of creating new geometry topology.

Texture Filtering

Definition: Texture Filtering is the process of calculating color fragments from a stretched or shrunken texture map.

OpenGL Targets

Definition: A Target determines the type of an OpenGL Object. Just like int or float determines the memory allocated for a variable in C++. A target determines the behavior of an OpenGL object.