When Epic Megagames
developed Unreal, they didn’t bother about the display card used by your system. They
used DirectX to develop the game. The job of finding your display card, and then
translating generic commands into system-specific ones was left to DirectX.
DirectX is a set of API (Application
Programming Interface) and programming tools. These allow Windows programmers to write
programs that’ll access the display and sound cards in a PC, without needing to know
the specific hardware configuration. It acts as an intermediary between the program and
the hardware drivers, translating generic commands into hardware-specific ones.
DirectX is no longer a game-only
technology, it’s spread to multimedia applications as well. It’s become a part
of Win 98, and gets installed with IE 4.
Do I need DirectX? Which version should
I go in for?
DirectX is as important for
the user as it is for the programmer. It’s become so popular now that you can’t
do without it. Most games being released today are developed using DirectX, and so are
most multimedia applications. Several Web components, like multimedia plug-ins, also use
at least some components of DirectX.
Owing to its growing popularity, DirectX
has undergone several revisions, the latest one being DirectX 7.0. All revisions are
backward-compatible, so if a game was written for a previous version of DirectX,
it’ll work with an updated one too.
Where do I get it?
The best place to look is
this month’s PCQ CD, where we’ve given DirectX 7.0. We carry the latest DirectX
updates, as they become available, on our CDs (You can find DirectX 6.1 on last
month’s CD). It’s usually included with the games that use DirectX components.
The hardware manufacturer may also provide drivers with DirectX functionality.
DirectX can also be downloaded from the
Microsoft Website or other download sites like www.download.com or www. filemine.com.
What do I need–driver or core
All DirectX versions
before 7.0 were available in two flavors–dxeng.EXE and dxcore.EXE. You should know
which one to install. Dxeng contains driver update files, which help in interacting with
the hardware components in your PC. Dxcore is just a core update for the various
DirectX runtime libraries. It contains no driver updates, and is therefore smaller in
size. If you’ve got the latest video or sound hardware, and the latest drivers, you
should use the core update. Win 98 users should also use the core update, as this already
has the driver updates. Win 95 users should install dxeng.EXE. The filename tells you
which version of DirectX you’re using. For example, the DirectX 6.1 core update would
be called dx61core.EXE and so on.
After installation some drivers show up
as not certified. What’s wrong?
Driver updates from
hardware vendors have to be submitted to Microsoft, where they undergo a series of tests
before being certified. But sometimes, the vendor may simultaneously release the updates
to the general public, without waiting for certification. Such drivers may offer DirectX
functionality but won’t be certified. So, before installing new drivers, check for
DirectX compatibility in the vendor’s release notes.
What if I wish to uninstall?
Go to Settings>Control
Panel> Add/Remove Programs and find DirectX in the list that shows up. Highlight it and
click on the “Add/Remove” button. This will remove all driver updates, but not
the runtime files. However, these don’t affect your system, but take up some space.
What are its various components?
DirectX has five essential
componentsDirectDraw, DirectInput, DirectPlay, DirectSound, and Direct3D.
DirectDraw allows page
flipping and direct access of video display memory, while maintaining compatibility with
Windows device drivers and programs. Using DirectDraw, a program can utilize all the
features of a display card, without being specifically programmed for it.
DirectInput provides fast
and consistent access to analog and digital joysticks.
DirectPlay is used for
multi-player gaming. Its a software interface that allows games to communicate with
each other, independent of the underlying protocol or online service.
DirectSound manages the
sound devices and the audio part of games. It provides hardware acceleration and direct
access to the sound device, while maintaining compatibility with existing programs and
Direct 3D is a set of 3D
graphics services that delivers real-time software rendering in games. It also takes care
of the hardware acceleration to give fast and smooth 3D graphics. Its fully
scalable, allowing all or part of the 3D rendering to be accelerated by hardware.