Compiz port to GLES2 : Porting the water plugin

Yet another fun task I tackled along the way to porting Compiz to OpenGL|ES was to completely rewrite the “Water plugin”. But before I talk too much (like always), let’s take a look at the Water plugin on desktop:

So clearly, for those of you who didn’t already know the water plugin, clearly, you’ll understand that its practical applications are… well… limited! I mean, having water drops pop up all over one’s desktop is nice and fun… but only for the first 10 minutes I’d say ! 😛  After this already-long time frame, the excitment is over… and you’ll understand that our interest in the water plugin was for demoing purposes, of course.  In fact, the water plugin is a really cool thing to have for a demo. It showcases per-fragment shading capabilities like no other compiz plugin can, and the way the plugin was devised originally is rather interesting : it makes a very clever usage of Framebuffers. In fact, it uses a series of three square FBOs of limited resolution (let’s say 256×256) which content aren’t colors, but bump normals (in the x,y,z components) and heights (in the w component). By binding 2 FBOs in the series (current and last ones), the water-calculating shader may then proceed all the framebuffer fragments (it calculates a per-fragment “acceleration” factor by comparing current/last heights for each fragments) and output newly computed normals and heights in the next FBO in the series!

Only problem was… the original shaders were written in ARB language !  Rewritting this shader in GLSL really was a liberating action !!

Here’s the ported Water plugin in action! This was run on a Pandaboard ES running ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal :

You can find the final version of the Compiz water plugin port to GLES here. Have fun !

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