Hiring guide for GLSL Engineers

GLSL Developer Hiring Guide

**GLSL**, short for **OpenGL Shading Language**, is a **c**omputer **s**oftware **p**rograming language designed for **g**raphics **l**inear **s**hading. It was **developed** by **Khronos Group** in **1999** as a **c**ommon **s**hading language for **3D** graphics APIs. **GLSL** is **based** on **C** and **C++**, and it is **compatible** with **both** **OpenGL** and **Direct3D**. **GLSL** is **used** to **write** **shaders**, which are **small** programs that are **run** on the **graphics** **card** to **manipulate** **3D** **graphics**.

Ask the right questions secure the right GLSL talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General GLSL app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in GLSL application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

How would you define a variable in GLSL?
To define a variable in GLSL, you need to specify the type of the variable followed by its name. For example, 'int myVariable;' defines an integer variable named myVariable.
What are the different types of variables in GLSL?
GLSL supports several types of variables including int (integer), float (floating point), bool (boolean), vec2, vec3, vec4 (2, 3, and 4 component floating point vectors), mat2, mat3, mat4 (2x2, 3x3, and 4x4 floating point matrices), and samplers (used for texture fetching).
Describe the difference between uniform, attribute, and varying variables in GLSL.
Uniform variables are read-only and set from the application. They are constant for all vertices (and fragments) of a single draw call. Attribute variables are read-only and are used to pass data from the application to the vertex shader. Each vertex can have a different value. Varying variables are used to pass data from the vertex shader to the fragment shader, with values automatically interpolated over the primitive being rendered.
How would you use a sampler2D in GLSL?
A sampler2D is used in GLSL to read from a 2D texture. You would first declare a uniform sampler2D variable, then use the texture2D function to fetch a texel from the texture. For example: 'uniform sampler2D myTexture; vec4 color = texture2D(myTexture, texCoords);'
What are the built-in functions in GLSL?
GLSL provides a wide range of built-in functions for tasks such as trigonometry (sin, cos, tan), vector/matrix operations (length, normalize, dot, cross, inverse), texture lookup (texture, texture2D, texture3D), and many others.
The hiring guide has been successfully sent to your email address.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate have a strong understanding of GLSL and its applications?
Can the candidate solve complex problems?
Is the candidate familiar with the latest GLSL versions and features?
Does the candidate have experience with 3D graphics programming?

Next 20 minutes

Specific GLSL development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

Describe the difference between a vertex shader and a fragment shader.
A vertex shader operates on each vertex of the geometry, performing transformations such as translation, rotation, and scaling. A fragment shader operates on each fragment (potential pixel) that is rasterized from the geometry, computing the final color of the pixel.
How would you implement lighting in GLSL?
Lighting in GLSL can be implemented by calculating the dot product of the light direction and the surface normal, then scaling the light color by this value. This is a simple form of diffuse lighting. More complex lighting models such as Phong or PBR can also be implemented in GLSL.
What are the steps to compile and link a GLSL shader?
First, the shader source code is compiled using the glCompileShader function. Then, the compiled shaders are attached to a program object using glAttachShader. Finally, the program object is linked using glLinkProgram.
How would you handle errors in GLSL?
Errors in GLSL can be handled by checking the compile and link status of the shaders and program object, using glGetShaderiv, glGetShaderInfoLog, glGetProgramiv, and glGetProgramInfoLog. These functions can provide information about any errors that occurred.
What are the precision qualifiers in GLSL and how do they affect performance?
GLSL has three precision qualifiers: highp, mediump, and lowp. These affect the precision of calculations and the amount of memory used by variables. Using lower precision can improve performance and reduce memory usage, but may also result in less accurate calculations.
The hiring guide has been successfully sent to your email address.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the GLSL engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled GLSL engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in GLSL programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with GLSL.

What does this simple GLSL shader do?
void main() { gl_FragColor = vec4(1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0); }
This shader sets the color of every pixel it processes to red. The color is specified as a vector of four components: red, green, blue, and alpha. Each component is a floating point number between 0.0 and 1.0.
What does this GLSL code do?
uniform vec3 lightPos; void main() { float distance = length(lightPos - gl_FragCoord.xyz); gl_FragColor = vec4(1.0 / (distance * distance), 0.0, 0.0, 1.0); }
This shader calculates the squared distance from a given light source to each pixel, and uses the inverse of this distance as the red component of the pixel's color. This results in a red glow that gets brighter the closer the pixel is to the light source.
What will be the output of this GLSL code?
uniform vec3 colors[3]; void main() { gl_FragColor = vec4(colors[0], 1.0); }
This shader sets the color of each pixel to the first color in the 'colors' array. The color is specified as a vector of three components: red, green, and blue. The alpha component is set to 1.0, making the pixel fully opaque.
What does this GLSL code do?
uniform vec2 resolution; void main() { vec2 uv = gl_FragCoord.xy / resolution.xy; gl_FragColor = vec4(uv, 0.0, 1.0); }
This shader normalizes the fragment coordinates to the range [0, 1] by dividing them by the resolution of the screen. It then uses these normalized coordinates as the red and green components of the pixel's color. The blue component is set to 0.0, and the alpha component is set to 1.0.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for GLSL Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle GLSL application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

How would you optimize a GLSL shader for performance?
Optimizing a GLSL shader can involve several techniques, such as minimizing texture lookups, reducing per-fragment computations by moving them to the vertex shader if possible, using lower precision where high precision is not necessary, and avoiding complex control flow.
Describe the difference between gl_FragCoord and gl_FragColor in GLSL.
gl_FragCoord is a built-in read-only variable that contains the window-relative coordinates of the current fragment. gl_FragColor is a built-in write-only variable that should be set to the desired output color of the current fragment.
How would you implement a Gaussian blur effect in GLSL?
A Gaussian blur effect can be implemented in GLSL by sampling the texture multiple times in a loop, with each sample offset by a certain amount, and weighting each sample by a Gaussian function. The samples are then summed and normalized to produce the final color.

GLSL application related

Product Perfect's GLSL development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your GLSL engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in GLSL projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.