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

From: Steven Pemberton <steven.pemberton@cwi.nl>
Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 10:58:07 +0200
Message-ID: <02a201c20237$f6226020$2102a8c0@srx41p>
To: Tantek Çelik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>, <www-style@w3.org>
Cc: "HTML WG" <w3c-html-wg@w3.org>, "Andrew Clover" <and@doxdesk.com>
From: "Tantek Çelik" <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
> > 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
> > of CSS.
> Would they not be a blemish on other W3C specs then?

Absolutely! And I think the CSS group should lead the way and show how it
*should* be done, rather than slavish following some brain-dead design from
tens of years ago, allowing future versions of those other specs to correct
their mistakes in the future through deprecation. It takes a long time, but
we have seen that it can happen.

> > To say that the X11 colour set and their names have been 'designed' is
> > 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.

Well, the need for named colours is clear. The first Mosaic was on X right?
So it is not surprising that they just used an existing name set that worked
out of the box. I use names whenever possible because they are more usable,
so it is not surprising that people use them. Which is all the more reason
for giving them a good set of names.

> But, that doesn't refute the fact that
> 1. the X11 color set has been widely consistently implemented for many
> 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]

I can name a dozen features of HTML that also fulfil all these properties,
but that we are nevertheless ruthlessly consigning to the garbage can of
history where they belong.

> 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.

And shouldn't be. Two messes do not make a clean design.

> 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
> be included in CSS3 color - indeed, CSS implementations of X11 color
> SVG implementations by quite some time.

Nah. Now's the time to realise the mistake of including them in SVG and
design a robust route towards a better solution.

> > Let me just describe some of the problems:
> Problems acknowledged, and there is no intent to alter or add to the list
> X11 colors for exactly this reason.

What a missed chance! You could have added some of the Crayola colours, and
made the set even worse! What about Electric Lime, Purple Pizzazz, Razzle
Dazzle Rose, Unmellow Yellow, Magic Mint, Radical Red, Sunglow and Neon
Carrot? What about Macaroni and Cheese? We have a right to these colours!
Crayola says they're amongst America's favourite 50 colors! How can we even
think of leaving them out?

> > 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.

But they have been widely consistently implemented for many years and used
by web authors in documents for many years. It is time to standardise them!
Web authors need something to refer to!

> > 2) Take a consistent naming scheme that properly addresses all
dimensions of
> > the color space, and map this naming scheme algorithmically to
> > colours. For instance:

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

Actually just a codification in words of the hsla() notation, so not a big

22/02 7:19 AM, In a reply to "Andrew Clover" <and@doxdesk.com>:

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

<embed> springs immediately to mind.

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

Which was right at that time. And that time is now past.

> > 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.

So you're suggesting that if we don't want the X11 colours, we can just
leave the colour module out?

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

'Cause they're badly designed, badly distributed over the spectrum, wrongly
named, include cultural references, ... see my earlier mail.

Received on Thursday, 23 May 2002 04:58:53 UTC

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