[css-images] Negative implications of linear gradient color space choice in CSS

Hello people,

After some discussion in the Mozilla bugzilla [1] system I gathered this was a
better place to bring this up, since it seems to be a spec bug, at least in
part as a result from prior discussion in bugzilla. [2]

The specification for color stops in gradients states:

"At each color stop position, the line is the color of the color stop. Between
two color stops, the line’s color is interpolated between the colors of the
two color stops, with the interpolation taking place in premultiplied RGBA space."

There's a problem with using premultiplied RGBA space since it only caters
specifically to transitioning from fully opaque to fully transparent (and
dodging the undesired effect that the 'transparent' keyword is a shorthand for
only "transparent black" of the full range of transparent colors available).
The problem is that, as far as I know, it's *impossible* in premultiplied RGBA
space to get a linear gradient transition in both color and opacity, since the
color is directly tied to the opacity of the color stop.

e.g. linear-gradient (to bottom, rgba(255,255,0,1), rgba(255,0,0,0)) will
completely ignore the color of the target stop because it has opacity 0. One
can argue that a fully transparent color has no color, but it also influences
partially transparent color stops.
If the opacity of the target stop was, say, 0.1, then you'd only get a
proportional amount of red in the gradient to the opacity value -- this is
*not* a linear interpolation between both colors that one would expect from
the CSS statement.

I suggest a spec adjustment to make the 'transparent' keyword a special case
instead of just a simple shorthand, and make gradients work in
un-premultiplied RGBA space to allow proper transparent gradients to be
For example, the 'transparent' keyword could be handled as an inherent stop of
the adjacent color with opacity 0 (on either side), or 2 stops if transparent
is somewhere "in the middle" of a gradient definition with each stop having
the color of the adjacent stop in that direction. This would avoid the "black"
transition that would otherwise occur with a simple shorthand.

Thanks for listening,


[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1241717
[2] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=591600

Received on Saturday, 23 January 2016 17:10:50 UTC