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Re: X11 Colors (was Last call comments on CSS3 module: color)

From: Tantek Çelik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 09:20:24 -0700
To: www-style@w3.org
Cc: HTML WG <w3c-html-wg@w3.org>, Steven Pemberton <steven.pemberton@cwi.nl>, Andrew Clover <and@doxdesk.com>
Message-id: <B9111358.C70B%tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
On 5/22/02 5:45 AM, "Steven Pemberton" <steven.pemberton@cwi.nl> wrote:

> Congratulations on an excellent specification. Many of the new facilities
> will be extremely useful.

Thanks for the kind words Steven.

> With one exception.
> The X11 colour names are an abomination that should have been stifled at
> birth, and adding them to CSS is a blemish on the otherwise excellent design
> of CSS.

Would they not be a blemish on other W3C specs then?

> To say that the X11 colour set and their names have been 'designed' is an
> insult to the word "design". It is just a mess.

I don't know the history behind the X11 color set, nor do I know the
reasoning behind why they were implemented in the earliest graphical
browsers (Mosaic etc.), nor why they were widely adopted by web authors.

But, that doesn't refute the fact that

1. the X11 color set has been widely consistently implemented for many years
2. colors in the X11 colors set have been used by web authors in documents
for many years.
3. the X11 color set has already been standardized by W3C[1]

One intent of CSS3 Color is provide some harmonization between the color
features in SVG and CSS.  The X11 colors are a part of that.

Yes, the X11 color set has already been accepted through the last call
process TWICE already (SVG 1.0, SVG 1.1) and for that reason alone they will
be included in CSS3 color - indeed, CSS implementations of X11 color predate
SVG implementations by quite some time.

> Let me just describe some of the problems:

Problems acknowledged, and there is no intent to alter or add to the list of
X11 colors for exactly this reason.

I cannot stress this enough - there is no intent to add to the list of X11
colors due to the problems described (and more).

> There are two possible solutions:
> 1) Take the standard 6x6x6 internet non-dithering color cube that is
> implemented everywhere, and agree on names for each of the colors there.

Not an undertaking the CSS wg is interested in I'm sure.

> 2) Take a consistent naming scheme that properly addresses all dimensions of
> the color space, and map this naming scheme algorithmically to appropriate
> colours. For instance:
>   <color>::= [<saturation> || <lightness> || <transparency>]? <hue>
>   <lightness>::= [very|slightly]? [dark|light]
>   <saturation>::= [very|slightly]? weak
>   <transparency>::= [very|slightly]? transparent
>   <hue>::= <prime> | <mix> | <special>
>   <prime>::= red | yellow | green | cyan | blue | magenta
>   <mix>::= orange | yellow-green | green-cyan | cyan-blue | blue-magenta |
> magenta-red (add red-yellow if you want)
>   <special>::= pink | brown | aqua | teal | grey | gray | black | white |
> purple | silver | turquoise | violet | <possible others>
> Examples:
>   red
>   light red
>   very light blue
>   weak dark green / dark weak green
>   slightly dark magenta-red
>   transparent cyan
> See http://www.cwi.nl/~steven/css/colour-lang.html for a quick try at a
> mapping, which still needs tweaking.

A good attempt at improvement, but this is far too big an addition to add to
CSS3 Color at Last Call in my opinion.  We should keep it as a proposal for
the next version.

On 5/22/02 7:19 AM, "Andrew Clover" <and@doxdesk.com> wrote:

>> They are added to CSS merely to codify current practice.
>> Almost every browser supports them
> Common browsers support lots of things that are not standard. That is not
> reason in itself to make them standard.

Could you name something else non standard that is as or more widely

The reasoning behind including the X11 colors is very much the same as that
that went into HTML 3.2 - codifying current practice.

> X11 colours are poorly-designed

Please see above.

> and provide no benefit over just using rgb values.

This is provably false since many many web authors have used them instead of
rgb values.

> There is no reason to
> make them a requirement of a CSS3 implementation.

They are not a requirement of a CSS3 implementation.  CSS3 is a set of
modules.  Requirements for an implementation are documented through
profiles.  Example profiles are provided in the modules.

> Authors should not be encouraged to use the X11 colours.


Thanks for the comments!


Received on Wednesday, 22 May 2002 12:15:25 UTC

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