WWDC 2014: Remembering QuickDraw 3D

It may seem that attempts to develop its own processor in the 80s and to create the technology 3D graphics in the 90s – a phenomenon of the same order. And in the new century Apple stepped on the same rake, but with a completely different result. Is it really so? At a press conference on the opening of WWDC 2014, Apple introduced Metal, humbly and almost apologetically: OpenGL hinders the developers of games for iOS to implement the flight of fantasy, and now Metal. In some cases it is 10 times more efficient than OpenGL, it is less demanding, in iOS it is actually more appropriate than OpenGL ES. And not a word about QuickDraw 3D.

I was never an expert on 3D graphics, but in the beginning a few “episodes” of one of the projects vivid three-dimensional graphics was just asking. The same effect can be achieved by using pre-drawn images, but they required too much. And I have tried.

In the Preface of one book on regular expressions (Regular Expressions, they are the same RegExp, and not what some might think) was a remarkable statement: “if you don’t own RegExp and you have a problem you want to solve with them, then you have two problems.”

About OpenGL, you can say the same. Like many other “magic wand”. The project ended prematurely, for reasons beyond the developers ‘ reasons, all my experience in OpenGL – month and a half apprenticeship, in their spare time. Something has been done, but an expert I did not.

Then I found and “third issue” – Quesa. The project is open source, almost completely repeating QD3D (an abbreviation of QuickDraw 3D, if someone does not understand), written by the same team that created it in the Apple. “Homegrown 3D graphics”, oddly enough, on the background of the OpenGL looked like a Mac on the background PC.

Quesa (and QD3D) is largely inferior to OpenGL, but not fatal – it was all disposable and it is solved. And her dignity was unique. About QD3D should definitely remember.

This is a continuation of a series about WWDC 2014, previous parts here:

First part: WWDC 2014: Apple’s 25th WWDC.


It was quite a special year. In the designation the next year changed all four digits. A bagatelle – but amusing.

At the January MacWorld 1999 Apple officially and finally put an end to QuickDraw 3D and RAVE low level component (this is Renderer Acceleration Virtual Engine, something like OpenGL): Mac OS X, these technologies will not be included.

“Use OpenGL” said Steve.

The decision was greeted with applause: developers, especially those who wrote the game, from QuickDraw 3D was not happy. OpenGL was already considered a standard for 3D graphics on all noteworthy platforms, the market share of Apple Computer was negligible, and even if the possibility QD3D on the playing field was comparable to the performance of OpenGL wishing to explore another non-trivial technology would be a little.

For writing games QD3D did not fit. The technical task pursued other goals necessary for the drawing speed was at the very end of the priority list.

The developers QD3D was fired, and their offspring, in which they put his soul and best years of his life, remained the property of Apple. Source code including. So many things have remained unfulfilled! The usual story, unfortunately.

In the summer of 1999 was born the project open source Quesa (there is a city in Valencia), organized by the former developers of QuickDraw 3D. The project was not a single line of forbidden for them to QuickDraw 3D, but the original it is in no way inferior. This also happens, but very infrequently. So, something in all this was.

The Quesa project quietly died in 2008. If you have any other information – write.


The development of QuickDraw 3D (still untitled) has commissioned the OU QuickTime. The aim of the project was the creation of the 3D technology, allowing industrial developers to include in programs for conventional computers (not workstations) three-dimensional interface elements.

In the advanced technology group (ATG) worked on the concept of a 3-dimensional interface. Something similar wrote the history of JEF Raskin, the idea floated in the air in ATG it tried to embody, and found that neither PHIGS (Programmer’s Hierarchical Interactive Graphics Standard), or OpenGL (maybe in that time Iris GL developed by Silicon Graphics), with the massive computers of the early 90s are incompatible in principle.

Ever (for example, 4-core RISC processor from Apple inside), and personal computers for the average Mac-user devices will have such capabilities, but the world needed to strike here and now.

In addition, Apple Computer with the delight of spending money. The 3-dimensional interface is very impressive. And outside the box thinking and talented (which is not the same thing) engineers stand in line at the door of the HR Department of the company, and they were from whom to choose. Anyway, at MacWorld 1995, the company introduced the first version of 3D-graphics of their own design.

As the murder of QuickDraw 3D in 1999, and in 1995 his birth made a standing ovation.

Wasn’t this project what happened to him?

Sightseeing tour

QuickDraw 3D consisted of two parts, the top (actually QD3D) and lower level (RAVE). QD3D is an object – oriented API, organized ergonomic and even elegantly written in “pure” C. You think that in C it is impossible? You are quite right, but I will not argue. The API may be object-oriented “pseudo”.

Giving tactical and technical data of main competitor (in 1995, OpenGL has become this “main rival”), QD3D on the head surpasses it for simplicity and ease of use. A good programmer, without prejudice to the terms, could use QD3D and achieve impressive results.

Funny: OpenGL, rowdy and rebellious project of Silicon Graphics, inferior to the former, the leader in 3D graphics PHIGS. In 1995, with victory over OpenGL PHIGS it’s only been three years, and this is still very well remembered.

To Apple on this minor fact did not pay attention that was the first of the fatal mistakes in the history of QD3D. Apple for some reason decided that the technology needs to promote themselves, their quality and superiority.

Proudly – but stupid. Pride and stupidity more often go hand in hand, so it is believed. But I digress.

That QD3D is a cross-platform product, almost no one knew. That despite easy to understand and fairly easy to use looks QD3D still endlessly change too.

Someone wrote something in some media – but the marketing machine of Apple’s participation in this was not accepted.

Meanwhile, it was the absolute truth. Actually QuickDraw 3D was a low-level interface to the engine RAVE. When porting to other platforms recycle I only had the engine.

All the famous OpenGL (mystery, complexity, lack of restrictions) in RAVE was. Extensions added in RAVE available on the “top floor”, easy and simple. A large company with increased 3 dimensional requirements could easily find staff capable of working with RAVE, but that very few people knew.

If the development of the RAVE was a real demand, even crazy Apple (1995-96 the company was dangerously ill, it is a fact) could not respond to it.

The fate of QuickDraw 3D could be different.

To be continued

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