HTML 3.2 PR color value syntax

Kevin 'Kev' Hughes (
Mon, 11 Nov 1996 14:03:44 -0800 (PST)

Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 14:03:44 -0800 (PST)
From: "Kevin 'Kev' Hughes" <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: HTML 3.2 PR color value syntax

	As a practicing Web designer I suggest making the following
modifications to the HTML 3.2 color value syntax.

	Currently, color values in HTML are denoted as hexidecimal
triplets. Here are the negative aspects of this syntax:

	* This format does not reflect current practice.

	  The hexidecimal format is an apparent holdover from
	  the way colors are specified in X. Most professional
	  designers today do not use X-based tools to generate
	  online art but rather use tools on the Macintosh and
	  PC that have no knowledge of this format.

	* Popular graphics tools do not support this format.

	  In the process of creating art for the Web, many designers
	  either refer to the default color picker supplied with their
	  operating system or refer to the color picker supplied in their
	  software of choice. All of the Windows-based color pickers I
	  have used can specify colors as RGB triplets with the values
	  ranging from 0 to 255. One common Macintosh color picker
	  that comes with the OS can specify colors as a triplet of
	  percentages, with values ranging from 0% to 100%.

	  Common development tools such as Adobe Photoshop, DeBabelizer,
	  and Painter can *all* understand the RGB triplet syntax, which
	  makes it easy to use these tools together. *None* of them
	  understand the hexidecimal syntax.

	* This format is not "user-friendly".

	  The format is harder to read; hexidecimal values do not
	  easily map to colors mentally, since most people do not usually
	  deal with such numbering schemes. Because the values are next
	  to each other without any delimiters, it is hard to remember
	  as a string. It is easier to remember and visualize colors in
	  the RGB triplet syntax.

	* The format needlessly generates more work invested
	  in the development of tools and documentation.

	  I have seen and evaluated almost one dozen different utilities
	  on the Macintosh and PC platforms whose sole purpose is to
	  translate colors to hexidecimal values or translate RGB values
	  to hexidecimal and vice versa. None of these would have existed
	  if the RGB triplet syntax were supported in the first place.

	  I have seen dozens of pages that show users how to understand
	  hexidecimal and how to convert the string to and from the
	  RGB triplet syntax. This is arcane, obsolete knowledge and is
	  a waste of time. Stop the madness!

	I have been asking for this change publically ever since Netscape
implemented the syntax. Here are my suggestions:

	<BODY BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF"> (as it is currently)

	This is how colors are currently specified.

	<BODY BGCOLOR="255,255,255"> (range 0-255)

	I suggest that one have the ability to specify a comma-delimited
RGB triplet of values, with each value ranging from 0 to 255.

	<BODY BGCOLOR="100%,100%,100%"> (range 0%-100%)

	I suggest also that one have the ability to specify a comma-delimited
RGB triplet of percentages, with each percentage ranging from 0% to 100%.
The percent sign must be included with the value so it can be interpreted
as a percentage, otherwise the value will be interpreted as a number being
within the range of 0 to 255. The percentages must be whole numbers.

	The code to parse this extra syntax is trivial.

	If HTML were not written and read by people, there would be no
need for this change. Unfortunately, most if not all serious Web designers
find it necessary to read and write HTML to achieve exactly the right
effect. It is because of this fact that I would hope that this extra color
value syntax be supported.

	-- Kevin

Kevin Hughes * *
Hypermedia Industrial Designer * VeriFone Internet Commerce *
Duty now for the future!