Open Source
Open InventorTM Technical FAQ

Is Open Inventor a format for 3D data?

Open Inventor defines a powerful, extensible format for 3D objects and scenes. However, Open Inventor is more than a 3D object file format; it is a complete toolkit for writing interactive, 3D applications.
Can I use Open Inventor to create 3D objects?
Inventor is an API for programmers writing 3D applications, it is not a 3D modeling tool.
Is Inventor a user interface toolkit?
Yes and no. Open Inventor contains mostly 3D objects. There is little in the way of conventional user interface objects such as buttons, dialogs, and menus. However, Open Inventor includes a full-fledged event model, a framework designed for 2D or 3D user interaction, and some manipulator objects for 3D user interface building. Note that the Inventor Xt Component and Utility Library includes some traditional 2D user interface widgets.
Is there a performance cost using a software layer on top of OpenGL?
Sometimes. Note that few OpenGL programs achieve peak graphics performance. This is because most applications have natural application overhead, and also because many programmers lack a thorough understanding of the details and intricacies of OpenGL. If you are writing a simple display-only, immediate-mode OpenGL program, then it will run faster using straight OpenGL, but not much. However, if your program has scene traversal, interactivity, picking, bounding box calculations, and other object space tasks, then Open Inventor will perform better for you. This is because Open Inventor is tuned to make optimal use of OpenGL. Furthermore, Open Inventor supports render caching which results in peak OpenGL performance in most cases.
What are the prerequisites for building the Open Inventor software?
Linux (glibc 2.x) or IRIX, X11R6, Motif, C++ compiler and OpenGL.
How is this version of Inventor different from the version currently shipped under IRIX?
Currently only the C++ bindings are available in the open source version. The IRIX version has both C and C++ bindings.
What platforms has this version of Open Inventor been tested on?
This version of Open Inventor has been tested on SGI's Visual Workstations (230,330,550) running Linux and on our IRIX workstations.
What version of Open Inventor for IRIX does this source correspond to?
Version 2.1.6.