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A Lightweight Real-time OpenGL Graph Component

, 20 Dec 2006 LGPL3
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An article on integrating an OpenGL-based graph component that provides real-time updates.


I had this need to show some statistics through a graph in real-time, in a demo application which I wrote. The screenshot should illustrate clearly the idea behind this graph component. It will be useful for programmers who would like to track data in real-time, such as in data acquisition and analysis. I did not have time to develop something really elaborate, like different graph types, presentation options, and filters, but it should be very easy to add-on these functionalities from the code.

Using the code

Some of the features of this graph component are:

  • A user-defined cache (list) for storing the graph data
  • When data "overflows" the cache, the graph automatically discards the oldest data to create space for the latest data
  • Moving average is calculated on-the-fly

It is very easy to include this code into any OpenGL-based application. The programmer only needs to make sure he/she has the rendering context.

OGLGraph* myGraph;

void init ( GLvoid )     // Create Some Everyday Functions
    glClearColor(0.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f, 0.f);
    myGraph = OGLGraph::Instance();
    myGraph->setup( 500 /*width*/, 100 /*height*/, 
                    10 /*offsetX*/, 10 /*offsetY*/, 
                    2 /*scaleX*/, 2 /*scaleY*/, 
                    1 /*channels*/, 200 /*cache size*/ );

void display ( void )   // Create The Display Function
    // ... 

    // This is a dummy function. Replace with custom input/data
    float time = glutGet(GLUT_ELAPSED_TIME) / 1000.0;
    float value;
    value = 5*sin( 5*time ) + 10.f;

    myGraph->update( value );

Source code builds nicely in MS VS.NET 2003.

Points of Interest

You can include any filters like noise reduction, low-pass, or high-pass in the update() code, or even pass post-processed data into this function if you can do that with an external software (e.g., using Matlab).


  • First release.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv3)


About the Author


Singapore Singapore
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberdsn8713-Aug-12 6:44 
Generalmemory error while data input Pinmemberadityap28623-Sep-10 18:10 
GeneralRe: memory error while data input PinmemberGabriyel23-Sep-10 21:05 
GeneralRe: memory error while data input Pinmemberadityap2863-Oct-10 18:57 
I was able to remove the error . But i have another bug now. I am not getting any compilation errors or run-time errors. But for some reason my code freezes after few data-points. I dont want to upload the whole code as it is too big.
But is there a limit in the update function for the number of values each time it can update.
int value1[220];
myGraph_Pac->update( value1[p]/150 );

glutSwapBuffers ( );
But its not plotting anything . where as i get data when i am trying to update in each run 22 points instead of 220.
GeneralNeed help in Real-Time OpenGL Graph PinmemberKwan Toh Choong6-May-09 5:39 
GeneralRe: Need help in Real-Time OpenGL Graph PinmemberGabriyel6-May-09 6:06 
GeneralFilemapping technic Pinmembernewspicy27-May-08 12:32 
QuestionHow to add in MFC dialog Pinmemberm0fauzi22-May-07 19:32 

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