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Web Standard X11 (Primary Digital Named Colors)

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W3 page on Color Standards X11 shows a 1-99 breakdown that I am familiar with over at Xxxxx (name redacted as advertising not welcomed). Namely, every Primary color can be applied using a fixed "primary" Hexadecimal stepping system. That system counts up using "primary" increments. Those increments diversify without color names.


The W3 Schools page uses primary increments, but only for grey-scale. Here are the primary units for all colors.

11 22 33 44 55 66 77 88 99 AA BB CC DD EE FF 

X11 leans on photographic deployment of oil and tempera color names resulting in an expected tangle, excepting grey-scale. Given that every device has its own physical palette, and hence none see the same color called Bisque #ffe4c4, it would be rational to reset Bisque to a nearest Primary neighbor, and apply 99 primary increments from there. 


This methodology provides SAFE Primary Colors for developers and frameworks; that is, SAFE COLORS for HTML5. SAFE applies to HTML as simply more rational. Compare 18-21 WEB SAFE colors in CSS 2.0. Using RGB, CMY, RYB color wheels, and thousands of proprietary (mostly patent) color wheels available today, what is wrong with a psychiatric, chemical, endocrine, artistic, and general scientific principal shared by all humans: namely, Primary Association?

The very interesting thing about primary color associations, is that toward darkest and lightest increments, the primary increments tend to pure white and pure black, an exacting conformance with human vision. To accommodate that vision, oil and tempera artists have a full palette of color names awaiting digital presentation. Factually, more color names than we need. PRIMARY COLOR NAMES are an established and appropriate way forward.  

We can do it like certain other rational parties and each independently setup our own COLOR.CSS, using whatever color names we choose. Or we can proceed with primary conversion of Bisque 1-99 with nominal Bisque somewhere between 1 and 99. Not a great intellectual challenge, though time consuming (multiply by 145 today and 755 tomorrow). CMS frameworks have primary 'templates'. Operating systems, likewise. I cannot find an online public demonstration of the primary principals suited to HTML5+ technology, as discussed in this thread. A color tutorial on primary colors and 99 increments for each established color name would be an interesting read. And help in understanding of color implementation. 

How many potential color names? Count the primary units above: (99 x 15) x 3 = 4,445 (my stats are very rusty). Nominal primaries are much more do-able: 15 x 15 = 225 color names for today's 1-F framework. 145 falls short by 80 color names. We can distributes primary increments to color names accordingly, with thousands of primary slots available.

Primary color association leaves potentially millions of unique no-name colors to code. This thread begins with a simplistic way of observing complex and dynamic color theory. Color needs a simple framework. W3 Schools has a simple tutorial on Primary Digital Color?

Edited by Riverleaf
Stats, Thread posted prematurely on command-B macOS 10.13.1
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X11 is not a web standard, it's a digital color standard from the 20th century.

Honestly, any named color system is going to have its limitations, on the web I highly recommend ignoring named colors at all and using value-based systems, namely RGB and HSL. RGB is the closest to how computers process colors, but HSL allows for easier transitions between brightness or hue.

In general browsers have 8 bits per channel and three channels: red, green and blue. This gives us 256 possble values for each color and 256^3 = 16,777,216 total colors. Computers are capable of showing more colors than that, usually using 32 bits to represent the color. There's no point in naming all of the colors, and the industry classification of colors is a subject that's pretty far removed from web development.

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10 hours ago, Ingolme said:

There's no point in naming all of the colors, and the industry classification of colors is a subject that's pretty far removed from web development.

W3C services all of us, together. W3C has delivered color name culture, into the heart of digital web development. We have been given STANDARD Hex associated Color Names. A standard that we can hide from, or market. Naming is the catchy part for most of us. At least as far back as DaVinci (Italian Renaissance), the immutable science of color has established those names with those hex values, or so we are told by those learned in such matters. That said, as Ingolme has noted, delivery of service is diversified in numerous color code methods: recommended RGB and HSL data 'patterns' are very popular, integrated into almost every color tool.

However, in a world embracing Xxx and hundreds of other massively popular CMS do-it-yourself venues, Web Developers in practice include countless graphic artists, architects, and so on. 'Artists' do like color names, language that they can relate to, as we help them to shape online identity.

As they shape and communicate their own identities, their activity explains for the rest of us why W3C has adopted color names, that traditional codified web developers would have otherwise ignored. Color name culture should encourage us to explore today what Xxxxx company now distributes to millions (earning billions), through global education, religion, art, photography, medicine, astrophysics and yes even web development. Humbling integration of common language and far more intricate code. Humbling human contact. So how does that effect web development today?

"Color my sky 'DeepSkyBlue47' today, just a little... into the deeper cloud-free beginnings of mystical starlight", for Father Murphy's Parish site (his own words, a competing developer won him over with color name talk). "Starlight brings us closer" in fact, to Father's wide-armed, emphatic "MidnightBlue is as far as I can go." And here we have it! The notion that every color-name software encourages and is encouraged by linguistic association of color and web development. Color names are an education and enlightenment of purpose for millions today. W3C is not a sleeping giant. If nothing else, for many RGB coders, color names offer a certain selling point... My first selling point was a graphic artist, sold when I suggested to her, "we could use color name Purple". What each human color name contact realizes and appreciates is that any chosen color, in all of it's 99 limited human code increments, our clients' chosen color is owned, unique! Each primary color can never intersect with any other color name. Uniqueness we can all appreciate. 

So now, my purpose here is to ask this. Has anyone found a unique incremented CSS color name file, not hidden in patent CMS?

Examples... the last site features extensive color name grouping. Not sure if it is the right thing to do. I would combine the first and last as a first step toward a more 'fully' incremented primary color name CSS file, constructed in situ while building a simple chart, say RGB/HSL/Hex/Spange table. Presentation could simply slide everything together, either MIT format looks good. But the look-good reference is Appendix to the critical CSS file.

What is "Color name software"? Every HTML/CSS coding tool on our planet and beyond, no less! I may get something together myself (if I can find time, but...). Please, share the goods, formally.

Edited by Riverleaf
Demonstrate color name global extension, stress real world competition and color name culture
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A final, important note concerning technology. I use a 1.2 billion color 32 inch CAD display, among others. Without this large, so-called 4K tool, it would be impossible to visualize all that is contained in this thread. In very few years, 4K will be very low-end, and everyone will be far more color-literate... and demanding. However wacky our clients may seem , tangled up in colors, X11 naming is not going away.

Edited by Riverleaf
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Do you think the links you posted are incomplete, or something?  Why are you asking for additional resources?  It looks like the 145 names are all there are.  You can read more about it here:


Like that article mentions, this list of color names has nothing to do with the W3C, it was created for the X Windows system.  The W3C just recommended that web browser vendors implement support for them (after Mosiac and Netscape supported them, and thus a lot of people started using them in creating web pages).  There aren't going to be any additions or changes to that list that I would expect, that's 30 years old.  Other than as a marketing aspect, there's no reason to use color names when we can use color definitions instead.  There are 145 named colors out of the 16.77 million colors in the 24-bit color space, so that percentage should tell you how useful we find naming colors.

In very few years, 4K will be very low-end, and everyone will be far more color-literate... and demanding.

4K is a marketing term regarding the resolution, not the color depth.  4K monitors are monitors where the larger dimension is close to 4,000 pixels (usually just under).  It doesn't relate to how it displays colors, I'm sure it's still using the same 24-bit color space that everything else uses.

X11 naming is not going away.

It will go away whenever browser vendors decide to drop support for named colors in CSS.  That's probably not going to be any time soon.  But in the same vein, X11 color naming is also not changing.  Like I said, it's 30 years old and hasn't been changed in a long time.  There's no reason to change it, it might be "fun" for artists to use names when referring to colors, but computers aren't artists, they're machines.  A list of 145 names is far less useful to a programmer than the ability to specify any one of 16.77 million colors just with a simple 6-character definition.  When I'm working with a client and they want to specify what their color scheme is, I get that list of colors as RGB codes, not a list of named colors.

All of this discussion also glosses over the fact that differences in displays and printers mean that the same color isn't always going to look exactly the same on everything.  You can change the color settings for any monitor, there's no guarantee that any display or printer will represent any color exactly the way you intend.  That can be frustrating for an artist but that's reality.

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8 hours ago, justsomeguy said:

All of this discussion also glosses over the fact that differences in displays and printers mean that the same color isn't always going to look exactly the same on everything.  You can change the color settings for any monitor, there's no guarantee that any display or printer will represent any color exactly the way you intend.  That can be frustrating for an artist but that's reality.

So, the hidden self in every developer is a digital artist, with a 16.77 million color palette! Unless his display offers 1.2 billion colors, demanding 32-bit palette, and then 64 bit palette (current Adobe research)... and so on. In fact 1,2 billion colors in a 24-bit market is a bit of a conundrum, concerning differences in displays and printers. Higher color depth devices can detect lower color depth device variation, such that no two Galaxy or iPhone units are the same. True, this frustrates us all in to buying bigger and better. But take a more traditional perspective: French artist Rousseau observed (like DaVinci) that no matter how oils mixed, the primary colors engaged never changed. That is why I began this thread discussing "primary increments". In fact, those increments (HSL isolation, RYB spectrum and so on) are why some think color names serve a purpose in digital development that goes beyond mere market toy. Color names in code anchor literally thousands (and for Professor Leaky) millions of years of our human language. The act of providing 1.2 billion colors on my display affords us all respect, not just a smidgeon of cultural color names (Dodger Blue? LOL!)... and enables far more tangible cognitive and behavioral association with related development frameworks.

Far more than merely frustrating, color names firmly secure digital development in the human experience. Do not overlook that your grandfather most likely was born before anything "digital" came into existence. Would you rather remain isolated, 100% misunderstood. Color names have a long way to go. They are moving ALL DEVELOPERS into far more than speech recognition INSIDE Apple light bulbs, Tokyo/Singapore LRT Transit maps/tickets/programming and... [carry on] 

CLICK! ;) Color me blue, Siri, where's my CSS Color Name file (like the ones recognized by Sublime Text, Atom and Dreamweaver... [carry on]?

Edited by Riverleaf
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I think that this discussion is about CSS. Maybe, just maybe... Dodger Blue is not the only lonely kid on the block. How may divisions in MLB? Not to mention NHL. What am I missing out on?

Jung Liu, "We have way more color names than you. But you just would not understand."

Do any of us "understand"? X11 Color Names (only 145 of those listed by W3), Profiles (color), color keywords (above, I query adding other names to the established pattern), transparent and currentcolor keywords, simple SVG alpha compositing (for justsomeguy, what are 'excludes'?), extended color names (what are increments), color name validity... [Google results page 1, 6 of  645 results. I understand the human contact part of color names, that preceded by at least 4.8 million years anything discussed herein, and will certainly outlive us all. Contact says color names are a useful communication tool, where development meets world outside. Light bulbs and transit respond to "BLUE", not (000,000,255:100).

How about you? Do you know what is "BLUE"?

.blue { color: #0000FF; color: blue }...

CSS [hex included to remove potential ambiguity - ink/paint/photography/other product manufactures engage nominal naming conventions predating and aligning with current digital color names - assuming culture allows nascent digital product greater access (see above, Color Chart One-Page View

HTML [method open to interpretation]

Edited by Riverleaf
links demonstrate pretext suffis for CSS extension study
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On 11/15/2017 at 11:14 PM, Riverleaf said:

Color Chart One-Page View (Development group tells me, not planning a CSS display or download (MIT-Dusseldorf?)

Wrong link above  . Should be:




Has W3 Schools any access to a 'color name' dependent corporation or entity? Code is easier to find than color names, on Internet search engines.

Edited by Riverleaf
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I am not entirely sure what exactly you're trying to argue for.

You bring up the fact that we have billions of colors but still seem to want to use names to select them. No matter how many human-readable names you give to these colors the set of named colors will only ever be a minuscule subset of all the colors that are available. The only way to have full color freedom is by referring to them through numbers.

Named colors, while good for communication between humans, are not good at all for actually identifying colors. When you tell somebody "blue" it does not say anything about exactly which shade of blue you're referring to. If somebody asks you to make their website blue, which color are you going to use?

Blue Blue Blue Blue Blue

When people are selecting a color for paint or a light bulb, somebody has to provide them with a sheet showing all the available colors and allowing them to pick one, or in online businesses you present them with a color picker. The color they end up selecting will most likely not have a specific name but rather an identifier and on the web, that identifier is almost always a color code in RGB format.

I'll repeat that X11 is not a web standard, it is merely mentioned in a W3C document ( https://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-css3-color-20020418/#x11-color ). The document shows a list of X11 color names that are supported by popular browsers at the time of writing, but the specification neither requires the browsers to support them nor guarantees that this support will continue in the future.

Again, it's not really clear exactly what you're asking for, could you summarize your idea in one sentence?




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Color names have a long way to go. They are moving ALL DEVELOPERS into far more than...

I just don't agree with that.  Color names are over-rated in a global world.  Instead of trying to figure out what someone means when they tell me they want the background to be dunkelgelb, they could just tell me to use #938200 or whatever the specific value is.  Mathematics is the only universal language we have.  Trying to tack on words in various languages that everyone doesn't even speak or understand as a replacement for a concise definition is not progression, it is regression.

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