How to Read This Book

“It makes programming fun again!” is a cliché among geeks; all too often it’s used to extol the virtues of some newfangled programming language or platform. But I honestly think there’s no better aphorism to describe iPhone graphics programming. Whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, I hope this book can play a small role in helping you rediscover the joy of programming.

This book is not an OpenGL manual, but it does teach many basic OpenGL concepts as a means to an end, namely, 3D graphics programming on the iPhone and iPod touch. Much of the book is written in a tutorial style, and I encourage you to download the sample code and play with it. Readers don’t need a graphics background, nor do they need any experience with the iPhone SDK. A sound understanding of C++ is required; fluency in Objective-C is useful but not necessary. A smidgen of Python is used in Chapter 7, but don’t let it scare you off.

I tried to avoid making this book math-heavy, but, as with any 3D graphics book, you at least need a fearless attitude toward basic linear algebra. I’ll hold your hand and jog your memory along the way.

If you’re already familiar with 3D graphics but haven’t done much with the iPhone, you can still learn a thing or two from this book. There are certain sections that you can probably skip over. Much of Chapter 2 is an overview of general 3D graphics concepts; I won’t be offended if you just skim through it. Conversely, if you have iPhone experience but are new to 3D graphics, you can gloss over some of the Objective-C and Xcode overviews given in Chapter 1.

In any case, I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Conventions Used in This Book

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:


Indicates new terms, URLs, email addresses, filenames, and file extensions. It also indicates the parts of the user interface, such as buttons, menus, and panes.

Constant width

Used for program listings, as well as within paragraphs to refer to program elements such as variable or function names, databases, data types, environment variables, statements, and keywords.

Constant width bold

Shows commands or other text that should be typed literally by the user.

Constant width italic

Shows text that should be replaced with user-supplied values or by values determined by context.


This icon signifies a tip, suggestion, or general note.


This icon indicates a warning or caution.

Using Code Examples

This book is here to help you get your job done. In general, you may use the code in this book in your programs and documentation. You do not need to contact us for permission unless you’re reproducing a significant portion of the code. For example, writing a program that uses several chunks of code from this book does not require permission. Selling or distributing a CD-ROM of examples from O’Reilly books does require permission. Answering a question by citing this book and quoting example code does not require permission. Incorporating a significant amount of example code from this book into your product’s documentation does require permission.

We appreciate, but do not require, attribution. An attribution usually includes the title, author, publisher, and ISBN. For example: “iPhone 3D Programming by Philip Rideout. Copyright 2010 Philip Rideout, 978-0-596-80482-4.”

If you feel your use of the code examples falls outside fair use or the permission given here, feel free to contact us at .

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Harsha Kuntur planted the seed for this book by lighting up every dinner conversation with his rabid enthusiasm for the iPhone. Equally important are Stephen Holmes (who unintentionally made me into an Apple fanboy) and David Banks (who inspired me to get into graphics).

I’d also like to thank my editor and personal champion at O’Reilly, Brian Jepson. Much thanks to both John T. Kennedy and Jon C. Kennedy for their valuable suggestions (can’t the Irish be more creative with names?). I was joyous when Serban Porumbescu agreed to review my book—I needed his experience. I’m also supremely grateful to Alex MacPhee and David Schmitt of Medical Simulation Corporation, who have been accommodating and patient as I tried to juggle my time with this book. Thanks, Alex, for catching those last-minute bugs!

Finally, I’d like to thank Mona, who had 1-800-DIVORCE on speed dial while I was having an affair with this book, but she managed to resist the temptation. In fact, without her limitless support and encouragement, there’s absolutely no way I could’ve done this.

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