DirectX

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Description

DirectX is a package of software programs that are all tailored to developers producing games and applications on different Microsoft Platforms.

Features

Initially users spoke about the different Direct programs using their names, but as the list grew and the programs became more robust it became tedious to talk about all of the different programs all the time. That is when the term DirectX was coined to refer to all the different Direct APIs (application programming interfaces). Since so many people rely on the Microsoft platforms DirectX is highly popular, and most new games that are released for PC or Xbox are built using DirectX.

The DirectX library is made up of a large number of different APIs, which are basically programming tools for any programs or games on different Microsoft platforms such as Windows, and Xbox. Even though it is possible to program in DirectX without a professional programming environment, it is much more difficult to do it that way, and most developers decide to purchase Visual Studio, to at least gain access to the compiler that comes with it.

These tools allow developers to do things like playback sounds during a game, or in response to an action on a program. They allow them to tie together different graphics to create the program that you see. The collection of programs has the ability to display both two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphics depending on the program or game that is created.
Another piece of the program makes it possible for controller actions to be tied to different responses on a game, and this is used in Xbox titles. With the release of DirectX, the programs also have the ability to use powerful multi-core graphics cards more effectively, creating more detailed pictures for users to enjoy. This new feature is making it possible to create games with much more advanced graphics, without slowing down the machine any more than a simpler game would.

Comparison

Throughout the years there have been a large number of alternatives developed to DirectX. Out of all of these alternatives the most popular one is OpenGL and it has many of the same features that DirectX has. OpenGL is in direct competition with DirectX and is used for many of the same purposes, except it is all open-source software, meaning that it is free to use and enhance. It’s used in many video games, flight simulators, scientific simulators, CAD, and even for some virtual reality applications.
In recent tests OpenGL actually had superior performance compared to DirectX, but because it is so much more difficult to learn due to poor documentation, most programmers prefer to stick with DirectX instead. This is a large part of why most popular games are still developed using Direct instead of another solution out there.

SDL is another software option out there that allows users to do some of what they can do with DirectX. This program is also completely free to use but it doesn’t come with many of the 3d capabilities that DirectX and OpenGL have. It is commonly used in 2d computer games, as well as some basic programs as well. It will handle audio inputs, and handle video rendering of 2d images.
These three open programs allow users to do many of the same things that DirectX does while being free. OpenGL is the main competitor that DirectX has, and there are plenty of programming environments that support OpenGL natively, while it is much more difficult to work out a free programming environment for DirectX without paying for Visual Studio first.

Conclusion

DirectX is a powerful set of APIs that that any programmer could pick up and use to make a game, or an application for one of the Microsoft platforms. There are a few reasons that it is used more widely than its competitors. The first reason is because Windows is such a popular operating system, and the second is because it is just easy to use. This means developers have to spend less time to learn to program, and they have plenty of people to sell their creations to.

The set of APIs is a bit limiting compared to other options though, because you are required to purchase software to program using DirectX, and you can only create programs for any of the Microsoft Platforms. Creating programs for Mac, Linux, or any other gaming system besides Xbox requires knowledge of a different set of APIs such as OpenGL.
If you are interested in programming for a Microsoft platform DirectX is the way to go in most instances, if you want programs that are going to work on different devices as well, then you will need a different solution.

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