W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > December 1997

Re: Your help needed to make the Web more usable

From: John Hazen <john@cks.com>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 11:22:08 -0800 (PST)
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.3.92.971203112111.16897C-100000@gate>

I just wanted to drop you a note supporting your recent decision to
maintain a clean, single color specification.

Having two color specs (RGB and HSL) would just make browsers even fatter,
and since color is subjective, I always use a tool to pick my colors.

Since you're probably getting some email on the other side of this issue,
I thought I'd write in support of simplicity.

John S. Hazen
CKS Enterprise

On Wed, 3 Dec 1997, Jeff Tycz wrote:

> I received this via the CHI-WEB mailing list, it seems like something
> that might be interesting to developers.
> ---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ----------------
> Date:        11/27  5:54 AM
> Received:    11/27  6:27 AM
> From:        Steven Pemberton, Steven.Pemberton@CWI.NL
> To:          CHI-WEB@acm.org
> (Summary: By sending an email to w3c-style@w3.org, you can help
> persuade the CSS group to include a more human-oriented notation for
> colours than the RGB #FFFFFF style.)
> You may already be aware of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) a new part of
> the World Wide Web that allow you to define the presentation of HTML
> pages separate from the structure of the document. The new versions of
> Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer already support
> level 1 of CSS. (See http://www.w3.org/Style/css/). A working draft
> for level 2 has just been released for public comment.
> One part of CSS is the ability to assign colours to elements (like
> backgrounds, font colours, and so on). Up to now HTML has only allowed
> you to specify colours using a numeric RGB notation like #FF35EF, and
> a limited set of names, and CSS has taken this notation over for the
> specification of colours.
> I am on the CSS committee, representing the HCI community, and my
> opinion is that RGB notation is a poor notation from a usability point
> of view: when confronted with a colour in RGB notation, it is hard to
> determine what colour it is, and if you want to encode a colour, it is
> next to impossible to do it without the use of a tool that does it for
> you.
> I have been trying for some time to persuade the CSS committee to
> accept a more human-oriented notation.  Unfortunately the committee
> consists for a large part of technologists, who don't see the need for
> another notation when you've already got RGB, of implementers who
> don't want any more work, of vendors who want to sell users tools to
> select colours, and of people who say that they haven't heard any
> demand from users for something easier to use (all these reasons were
> used in meetings).
> My latest, and last-ditch attempt (since CSS has gone public and will
> be offered for ratification soon) is for HSL notation.  While not
> perfect, it goes a long way to making colours more easily expressible,
> while not increasing the work greatly for implementers.
> You can see the whole proposal at
> http://www.cwi.nl/~steven/css/hsl.html, with examples of colours and
> their encodings, but in a nutshell, HSL looks like this:
>     * HSL encoded colours consist of three numbers: Hue, Saturation, and
>     Lightness.
>     * Hue is an angle from 0 to 360 degrees. It represents a colour from
>     the colour circle, with red=0 (=360 degrees), green=120 degrees,
>     blue=240 degrees. So for instance, since magenta is halfway between
> red
>     and blue, it is 300 degrees.
>     * Saturation is 100% for a pure colour, down to 0% for a shade of grey
>     (completely unsaturated).
>     * Lightness goes from 0% for no lightness (i.e. black), to 100% for
>     full lightness (white), with 50% being the 'normal' value for a
>     colour.
> So for instance,
>         hsl(0,  100, 50) is red;
>         hsl(0,  100, 25) is dark red,
>         hsl(0,   50, 50) is a pastel red,
>         hsl(0,   50, 25) is a dark pastel red, and
>         hsl(240, 50, 25) is a dark pastel blue.
> For the reasons mentioned above, the CSS committee have decided not to
> include HSL colour specification, but have minuted that they will
> publish the fact that it is an option, and if enough people ask for
> it, it will be put in.
> This is why I am writing. If you think that CSS should include HSL
> (and note that this is now the only option: it is not possible to
> propose another solution), you should send an email to
> www-style@w3.org, giving your opinion about what you think of RGB, and
> why you think that HSL would help make the Web a more human-oriented
> place.
> Thanks!
> Steven Pemberton, CWI, Amsterdam; Steven.Pemberton@cwi.nl
> ----------------- End Forwarded Message -----------------
> ________________
> Jeff Tycz
> CKS Partners
> 408.342.5076
> jefftycz@cks.com
Received on Wednesday, 3 December 1997 14:22:17 UTC

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