We Might Never See A New OpenGL Version, At Least Not For A Long Time
Written by Michael Larabel in Standards on 1 October 2016 at 08:58 AM EDT. 39 Comments
During past Khronos press briefings about OpenGL/Vulkan and in other communications, while Vulkan is the organization's big graphics API focus, it was implied during these conversations that OpenGL would continue to march to its own beat and evolve as needed. While OpenGL continues to be significantly used by cross-platform graphics application/game developers, it turns out there might not be a new official version for a long time - if ever.

OpenGL 4.5 was released in August of 2014 while there was the "OpenGL 2015" updates last year and this summer we just had the 2016 update that just introduced ARB_gl_spirv. There's been nothing definitive about any OpenGL 4.6 or OpenGL 5.0 update while OpenGL continues to be widely-used and is also the basis for OpenGL ES, WebGL, etc.

In the discussions about the next Mesa release and what to do about versioning, it was brought up how to handle Mesa version numbers when they reach OpenGL 4.5. Well, Mesa major version bumps will then probably be tied to Vulkan version bumps.

But the interesting remark prompting this story was this comment by Intel developer Ian Romanick, "There is a distinct possibility (spoiler alert) that there won't be any new OpenGL version for a long time, if ever." Ian's comments about OpenGL carry a fair amount of weight considering he's one of their main OpenGL Linux driver developers but more importantly is Intel's representative to the Khronos Board. He's long been involved with OpenGL and liaising with Khronos. But do keep in mind this wasn't any official announcement and he wasn't making any official proclamation on the behalf of Intel nor Khronos but rather remarks on a developers' list.

Intel developer Jason Ekstrand also commented on the same thread about the likelihood of seeing a new OpenGL or OpenGL ES version, "we just turned on [OpenGL ES] 3.2 and ES is about as likely to get a 3.3 as desktop is to get 4.6."

So if it's indeed accurate that there won't be a new OpenGL version for a long time, if ever, that's fairly interesting and somewhat differing from what was implied in past briefings that OpenGL would continue to evolve on its own. Presumably that means then they'll just continue with their routine extension roll-outs when warranted for new GL functionality and not proclaim any new version, but I'll be seeking more information about any new OpenGL master plan during the next Khronos briefing.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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