I've concluded that I like the Inventor Mentor Book. I've used the book to teach open inventor to Senior University students. I worked with students to demonstrate a comprehensive set of programs viewable at WSU Virtual Worlds. WSU Virtual Worlds illustrates a more comprehensive code explaination. If you have questions on concepts in the book, email me. Heres what we were able to accomplish: Cylinder in trackball with Examiner Widget, Orthographic Camera and explainations of Perspective Camera, Space station w/ Camera and Point Light, Space station w/ Copper Material, Space station w/ Text, Grids (callbacks to OpenGL Code), applying Texture maps, B-Spline, using the Elapsed-Time Engine, Two Time Counters, Keyboard Events (this was very challenging to learn), Sensors, Draggers, nurb surface figure (cool technology), Walking Figure, skeleton and nurb surface skin (the best subject of the book: node kits), Examiner Widget, Water Molecule with Draggers and Timer Sensors.
This book gives a good overview of how to use Open Inventor to depict three-dimensional objects and scenes. To my knowledge, this is the only introductory book on Open Inventor. Since there are no tutorial books on Open Inventor, this is where many people start when they want to use the language. This book describes the capabilities and features of Open Inventor and gives brief examples, often with code. By the end of the book, you have a good idea of what Open Inventor can do and what parts of the language you would use for each feature. Unfortunately, many of the descriptions leave much to be desired. The book does not go into detail on how to use any feature. Many descriptions are given a light, cursory treatment. If your goal is to start programming in Open Inventor, you will find many omissions. You will need to compensate for this by writing test cases and experimental code. You will also need to purchase The Open Inventor C++ Reference Manual, which will fill in many of the gaps in this book. If, however, your goal is to get an understanding of what Open Inventor is, this book is perfect.
I teach a five week course using this book. Students praise the material as being comprehensible, easy to understand, and creative. After each chapter the student should be able to perform certain open inventor tasks. I assign daily programming variations drived from the book. The accumulative effect is to have a student capable of maintain or developing applications in Open Inventor. The logical extension of the programming language is to develop using SGI tools or TGS tools. I think the Inventor Mentor book is one of the most prized Open Inventor books on the market. I adhere to the book when teaching Open Inventor exclusively. The Open Inventor book sheds a new light on the next five weeks which moves into VRML and Java. Interestingly, the mechanizms for controling nodes in the scene graph using Java are very similar to Open Inventor Node manipulation.