An introduction to DirectX technology

In this article, I am going to explain to you what DirectX is, how it came to existence, and why.

DirectX is an API, or a collection of API’s which mainly focuses on multimedia on the Windows operating system.

DirectX has several components, as the user of DirectX, you don’t have to worry about these that much. The components you should worry about are as follows:
  • DirectDraw, or more popular, Direct2D (a newer model), which is used for 2D graphics.
  • Direct3D, for drawing 3D graphics
  • DirectInput, for interacting with input devices such as keyboards, mice and joysticks. DirectInput is becoming less popular because of it’s “newer model” known as XInput, which is simpler to use and allows you to use Xbox 360 controllers in your games as well as standard WMINPUT window messaging for keyboard or mouse input.
  • DirectSound, for the playback and recording of waveform sounds. Also DirectSound3D, which simply plays back 3D sound.
Those are all you have to worry about for now, of course it has other components to, but we don’t worry to much about them. Now a days, C# programmers tend to use XNA, which is pretty much a simplified version of DirectX. XNA was built on top of DirectX.

In 1994 Microsoft was just about to release their “newest” operating system, Windows 95. Windows future would be determined by the software created for it. Back then, programmers found it easier and better to use their previous operating system, known as MS-DOS, to create games. That would mean that a very little amount of games would be created for the “most advanced” operating system. Seriously, how many of you would use an older operating system if you know it has 10 times more good games? Most of us right? That was just the logical choice. DOS allowed access to component in the operating system. This was the problem, as from Windows 95 restricted access to those parts of the computer, for obvious reasons. Now Microsoft had a problem on their hands. They had no choice, but to give the programmers what they wanted. So DirectX was born. The first version of DirectX was released in late 1995, at that time it was partners with OpenGL as OpenGL was used with the “high end” hardware. More on that later.

DirectX continued to be updated, but the programmers were still unhappy with it. It had messy code, it was hard to work with and wasn’t very popular. So programmers continued using OpenGL. This continued until DirectX 8 was released. According to programmers, DirectX 8 was much more “clean” and “understandable” than DirectX 7. It was not until then that DirectX became more and more popular. DirectX 8 was also the main API for use on the Xbox.

That’s about it for me. I assume after reading this article you have a little general knowledge with DirectX. Though if you feel you want to read up some more on it, check out Microsoft.com and Wikipedia.org

If you enjoyed this article, wait until you see the next one!

DirectX 9 vs. DirectX 10


  1. Fun fact:

    The name of the first versions of what we know now as "DirectX" was... get this... "WinG". :D

  2. WinG?
    Catchy :P
    Wonder what made them change their mind...

  3. My guess is that it had something to do with Buffalo sauce.