Re: HTML 3.2 PR color value syntax

Carl Morris (
Mon, 11 Nov 1996 20:26:24 -0600

Message-Id: <>
From: "Carl Morris" <>
To: "Kevin 'Kev' Hughes" <>, "WWW HTML List" <>
Subject: Re: HTML 3.2 PR color value syntax
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 20:26:24 -0600

| 	* 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.

Speak for yourself.  As a user of a PC, I have always worked in HEX,
its more meaningful for something that is limited from 0 to 255... some
people ask, why 255?  Well, if they don't understand HEX in the first
place, its impossible to explain the 255 limit.

I would prefer percentages though....

| 	* 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%.

Popular?   The ones I use support HEX, including the little tiny HTML
author (its just a fancy text editor) supports hex and decimal colors. 
Most apps have an option to change the behavior, however, most OS's
don't as you said...

| 	  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.

Depends, FFFFFF is white, 000080 is dark blue, and I can name just as
many in HEX as you might in decimal, while I can nearly name non in
decimal without the conversion back to decimal...  percentages get even
worse, but is the better way for platform independent specification of

| 	* 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 realize most those huge apps that do nothing but do RGB colors were a
waste of some programmers time, the Windows calculator could have been
an easier tool for many.  However, HTML has been using this format for
2 years since Netscape introduced it, Apps like Adobes are too slow for
internet development, where things are said to move at internet
speed...  Even if HTML supported decimal triplets there would be a new
outrush of apps to help users make triplets out of color...  even
decimal is not user friendly ... a user just wants to choose a color
from a list...  which is what most of us do now anyway...

| 	The code to parse this extra syntax is trivial.

Yup, thats why MS only supports HEX codes in CSS ... the code is not
trivial, its man hours, browser authors will put it off until THEY see
a need... and they don't...  Neither Netscape or Microsoft will
implement it just because its part of the spec... Netscape said way
back that if HTML 3.0 became a spec, there was no way it would support
FIG, now we call it object.  Any bets that unless another company such
as MS supports it (which they are) that Netscape will scream the same