No matter what function the software ultimately performs, there are some things that the best OpenGL® software will have that other programs might not. A good program that uses OpenGL® as the primary graphics interface should clearly state somewhere on it the version of OpenGL® on which the program is relying. It also should have a way to enable or disable features of the OpenGL® library that could cause certain hardware configuration trouble, such as adjusting the aliasing or changing the screen resolution. Higher-end OpenGL® software, such as video games, might have been written using only the newest graphics cards and libraries, meaning it is important to have an option for some type of software emulation to make sure the program will work on older cards. Well-tested OpenGL® software should have at least a partial list of graphics cards, drivers or other configurations that are known not to work with the program so users do not waste time and effort installing a program that will not function.
When choosing the best OpenGL® software, the version of OpenGL® used by the program can be important to performance and can determine whether the program will even run on a given system. In general, OpenGL® is backward compatible, meaning programs compiled using older libraries will function normally with newer drivers. Sometimes, however, newer versions of OpenGL® or experimental, unreleased versions can rely on features that are not present in the standard driver set, requiring a special installation just to make the program work.
Another feature included in some of the best OpenGL® software is control over what advanced rendering techniques are used. Poorly designed OpenGL® software could attempt to force a certain level of anti-aliasing, screen resolution or device refresh rate that will not work well on all systems. Having a control panel within the software that allows the user to enable, change or disable some features can help to improve the performance of a program.
Even when a computer or other device has a new, up-to-date graphics card and drivers installed, it still is important to check on whether the OpenGL® software supports that type of card. This is because not all hardware implements the OpenGL® standard in the same way, and some developers choose not to support some lines of graphics hardware. Although well-written OpenGL® software tends not to rely on specific hardware functionality, some software does and might not run without that specific hardware.