My first job at NVIDIA was writing a tool to enable developers to understand vertex and pixel shaders.
I got the chance to build lots of fun little shaders which showed how to implement standard things like point light sources or volume fog; and previously impossible things such as reflective bump mapping.
My initial host could support plugin effects, and after I’d written a few basic effects, others at NVIDIA took over writing them, as well as eventually building a better effect browser which shipped on later SDKs. The shaders here were typically written in Shader Assembly language; we had no C-like language at that point.
If I remember correctly, this tool was a C++ app using standard Win32 UI control widgets.
There’s a site that talks about it here, but I don’t have a nice screenshot of this any more.
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