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Destroying The Myth Of The Web-Safe Palette

timothy posted about 14 years ago | from the illusions-of-childhood dept.

Graphics 270

curmudgeon42 writes: "The folks at Webmonkey have developed a new test of the Web-safe color pallette. The results of their experiment suggest that there are only 22 colors that work across all browsers, platforms, and color depths. The article also includes a good explanation of how the different color depths operate, and some interesting strategies for dealing with the greatly diminished amount of Web-safe colors." The authors are both senior designers at Razorfish. You might not guess it from visiting some of the worst sites on the Web, but some designers are both interested in making their pages look good to all (read "most") users, and in avoiding the problems of relying on proprietary plug-ins. If your words, artwork or photographs end up on the Web, you should read it.

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Commodore 64 anyone? (1)

WyldOne (29955) | about 14 years ago | (#793980)

Back in time we go. Anybody for the old IBM graphics?

Nasty "web safe" pages (3)

rkent (73434) | about 14 years ago | (#793981)

This gets really frustrating. I used the GIMP to design an old home page of mine using "Web-safe" GIFs. Then I took a look at it on a really nice monitor, and the colors were just horrible.

Well... (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 14 years ago | (#793982)

Well, isn't that nice? We haven't advanced any further in display technology on the web than the primitive Amiga? 22 colors? Umm, hello? In this day of active matrix LCDs, 32 bit monitors and even color CCDs, we're limited to 22 colors?! Ngggghhh.

Why I like the Monkey. (2)

zuffy (17881) | about 14 years ago | (#793983)

Web Monkey has been, and continues to be, an excellent resource not only on web development at the code/backend level, but also with aspects to good design practices. Unfortunately just because you can write some wicked perl scripts for a web site, does not mean you can design a pretty interface to them. It's much easier for a graphic designer to learn how to create a web page than it is for a coder to learn good design principles. Web Monkey has a nice blend to help both groups out.

Plus, they also have a great name. =)

Its good when SOME things go down... (2)

jmenezes (100986) | about 14 years ago | (#793984)

Die sizes on your CPUs...
but the colors you can use?!??!?!

and just when you thought it was safe to view the web in all 216-color glory, too ;)

The problem here is.... (4)

scotpurl (28825) | about 14 years ago | (#793985)

The real problem here is the customers who insist upon complete control. They think "publishing," and somehow think that they have ultimate control over all things, and thus ultimate control over how it is presented to the viewer.

The web is a different medium. You don't take radio rules and apply them to TV, and vice versa. What works well for glossy color magazines won't work well for an indie newspaper.

I'm still fighting battles with folks. The latest here is the use of the corporate logo. The brand-identity weenies complain that there has to be one inch of whitespace around the logo, and the logo can not appear any smaller than certain dimensions, and it has to appear in the correct colors.

One inch of white space? Sure, on what size monitor?

Web safe? I care not. (2)

curiousir (115201) | about 14 years ago | (#793986)

Surely most everyone using the internet with graphics enabled has realised that web sites WILL LOOK TERRIBLE if you use less than quite a lot of colors. If you wanna browse in four colors you can, but why should my experience be spoiled by whiny pathetic ten year old technology huggers? I like gradients and drop shadows and textures. A site doesn't need to be slow to be pretty, so why should it be ugly to everyone, rather than just people who are crippled by their browser/Accelerator/whatever. Inequality in Browsers doesn't mean i should have to suffer just 'cos you do.

Color Standards? (1)

WyldOne (29955) | about 14 years ago | (#793987)

I remember when I was in the clothing industry there was a standard Pantone [] that was used for colors. That way a green xxxx.x was allways a green on pring, fabric, screen etc.

Even those 22 aren't web-safe... (4)

ethereal (13958) | about 14 years ago | (#793988)

Unfortunately, with Netscape 4.61 on an HP-UX TrueColor display (visual), 7 of the 22 really safe colors [] display GIF-BGCOLOR mismatches. Of course, some of the supposedly non-safe colors may work OK on my display, but if you're trying to be truly cross-platform, the number is reduced to 15 safe colors.

What really bugs me recently is not color mismatches, but sites which have some sort of horizontal bar with many repeating vertical color streaks. It looks really ugly and I've seen it on a number of sites, so it seems to be more of a browser problem. Perhaps it's CSS that Netscape 4.x doesn't understand correctly?

Razorfish information architects (5)

update() (217397) | about 14 years ago | (#793989)

David Lehn and Hadley Stern have on occasion been called obsessive. David is a senior information architect and interface developer in the Milan office of Razorfish. Hadley is a senior designer in Razorfish's Boston office.

OK, this is somewhat off-topic, but it's a good story and it's sort of pertinent.

I was on a Boston to New York shuttle flight that gets stuck on the runway for 3 hours with no explanation. Worse, I'm sitting in front of three idiot consultants from Razorfish who spend the whole time talking loudly and incessantly. Remarkably, not one word of it resembled any productive activity in the slightest. "So, I conducted a series of group discussion sessions to quantify how they establish their procedures." "But, Bianca, how did you formulate the framework for evaluating their paradigms?" I was thinking back to the Slashdot article [] where a client sued Razorfish for delivering a shoddy site and wondered whether these clowns had worked that project.

My favorite line - Bianca is irate because a client asked her for some concrete bit of information: "Can you believe that? Hello? I'm an Information Architect, not a Knowledge Engineer!"


Re:The problem here is.... (3)

Chalst (57653) | about 14 years ago | (#793990)

The point isn't about web designers not having exact control over the
output, it is about colour rendering for web pages being done in an
internally inconsistent manner by almost all browsers. That's pretty

Incorrect details (2)

snookums (48954) | about 14 years ago | (#793991)

These guys should watch what they say:
As we said, computers like mathematical simplicity, so the palette has to have consistent spacing. We need to find the largest number that can be cubed (to accommodate the three root colors RGB) without its cubed value exceeding 256. That number is 6 (6 * 6 * 6 = 216).
Bollocks. What about the 6-7-6 palette that was a common "standard" for GIFs back in the old days? IIRC, the palette choice for "undithered" colours was made fairly arbitrarily by Netscape, and was not based on what the application could allocate at run-time.
If you need six points on a scale, you need five spaces. Since we started our scale on 0, not 1, we can divide 255 by 5 and get the result of 51. Therefore, our values are 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, and 255. Any combination of these in the R, G, or B positions results in a valid color for an 8-bit display.

More pish. They already said that the palette for 256-colour displays was drawn from a pool of 16,776,216 colour.
In theory, an operating system can display any 256 colors, but your machine would take a real performance hit if it had to redraw its palette every time you toggled between applications.In theory, an operating system can display any 256 colors, but your machine would take a real performance hit if it had to redraw its palette every time you toggled between applications.

Well, I used to run "netscape -install" on my 8bit X server and that's exactly what it did.

If the authors felt the need to dumb-down the technical side, they could at least get it right. The article is otherwise very intersting and informative.

-1 redundant ? (5)

Stavr0 (35032) | about 14 years ago | (#793992)

My websafe palette:
0 - black
1 - white

Reminds me of an old TV technician joke: What does NTSC stand for?
Never Twice the Same Color (prob. referring to the inevitable drift of a analog tint control)

Re:Even those 22 aren't web-safe... (5)

rkent (73434) | about 14 years ago | (#793993)

Right. I was wondering about that, too. Here's what they really did: run the 216-color palette on several different machines, each of which behaved differently. Whether because of disparate video card selection, or monitor selection, or whatever. Then they picked the 22 colors which happened to render correctly on all of their test systems.

But this doesn't mean they'll render correctly on your system! I'll bet if they'd picked a few more windows machines to test, they would've had even fewer "web safe" colors in the end. So what this article really does is destroy the concept of a web-safe palette altogether. The 22 colors are just arbitrary.

Re:The problem here is.... (2)

scotpurl (28825) | about 14 years ago | (#793994)

True. So I left out the part where they've got their Pantone color sample in hand, with The Official Corporate Logo Color on it, and they're hopping angry, wondering why it's not the same color on their monitor. Well, 'cause The Official Corporate Logo Color ain't one of the 212, and it ain't close to one of the default 256, and it's kinda close to one of the 65,000 colors, but it depends upon your monitor settings....

A Question (1)

Gath (8196) | about 14 years ago | (#793995)

They mention in the article that the safe colors in the 16 bit palette changed from machine to machine on Win95. Now this is the same browser on the same OS. What I'm wondering is: Wouldn't a more likely cause for the problem be differences in the video cards and drivers on those machines? I really hope each application doesn't need to adjust colors before feeding them to the video card. They should be able to, but they shoudln't need to.

Seems like a bug in the browsers (1)

ocelotbob (173602) | about 14 years ago | (#793996)

Well, I've got one of the d*mn 16 bit displays (hey I'm colorblind, I want res more than color), and I've come to the conclusion that it's a serious bug, or at least misfeature, to have the color rendering/dithering systems be totally seperate entities for the different sections of code.

VGA 256 color palette (3)

Stavr0 (35032) | about 14 years ago | (#793997)

They already said that the palette for 256-colour displays was drawn from a pool of 16,776,216 colour.
Actually the 'classic' VGA palette is 256 out of 262144 (6 bits per color).
When True Color cards came out, ATI came up with CoDe (color depth Extension) which was truly 256/2^24. Others soon followed.
So it's even worse: you got the 256 color drivers that support 8bpp palettes and the older ones that only go to 6bpp.

Color-blindness too (5)

Vassily Overveight (211619) | about 14 years ago | (#793998)

Besides the web-safety limitations of color selections, web designers should also be cognizant of what visitors who are color-blind will see (a subject near and dear to my heart). Webtechniques [] has a great article [] on this subject. Particularly interesting is their description of how to simulate color-blindness in order to view your own design efforts.

Re:Color-blindness too (1)

fReNeTiK (31070) | about 14 years ago | (#793999)

Excellent article. Thanks for the link.

15-bit color *is* 16-bit color (3)

Phrogz (43803) | about 14 years ago | (#794000)

The authors of this article don't seem to realize that 16-bit color is 15-bit color. As a brief primer:

  • 8-bit color is indexed color--256 indices into a palette of colors (defined by the system or elsewhere, like in a GIF).
  • 15/16-bit color and 24/32-bit color are direct mode colors. 24/32-bit color is 24 bits of information (8-bits each for red, green, and blue) plus 8-bits of padding (which can be used for an alpha channel). This is here because it's faster to move data in a single 32-bit chunk than it is to move three 8-bit chunks. If it were really 32-bit color, you'd have over 4-billion colors (2^32) instead of 16.7 million (2^24)

    Similarly, 15/16-bit color is three 5-bit channels and a 1-bit padding/alpha channel, yielding 32768 colors, not 65536.

This (and some other inaccuracies in the article) cast some doubt as to how much the authors really understood what they were saying. For example, the web-safe palette still does protect you from dithering, and that's important.

Re:The problem here is.... (2)

Vassily Overveight (211619) | about 14 years ago | (#794001)

I've had problems like this before, but usually the client understands when I explain the web isn't like a brochure, where you can mix the inks to get exactly the shade that you want, and have complete control over the layout. It seems to help if you use their own monitor and change the color and resolution settings to show them how there are many variables that the user can mess with, and over which you have no control.

Re:The problem here is.... (3)

scotpurl (28825) | about 14 years ago | (#794002)

did that. Now they want a $3k Sony monitor with hood, color calibrator, matching non-reflective black kimono (to wear over your light-colored clothes to eliminate glare) etc. etc.


Can't see their links... (2)

update() (217397) | about 14 years ago | (#794003)

Is it just my browser (IE 5.0 on MacOS) or are the rest of you also having trouble following the links to their sidebars? Whenever there's a link to an example or a result, I'm just reloading the original page.

Between the authors and Webmonkey, you'd think someone involved would know how to format a link properly!


Forget the web-safe palette! (5)

Tom7 (102298) | about 14 years ago | (#794004)

I hate whoever invented this stupid thing. Yes, it allows you to make sure some colors match up on low-end displays. It made sense when most of the world was browsing at 256 colors. But now, the COMMON CASE is a high-color display without color dithering! If you think minor color mis-matches look bad, take any photograph and dither it to the "web-safe" palette in photoshop or the gimp. Horror! I've seen far too many web sites which dither everything to the web-safe palette, the designer thinking that it will make everything look "right" on all displays. This article shows that it (except a very small subset) doesn't even make everything look the SAME on all displays.

Designers have a hard time learning new tools and techniques (ever seen a web site designed by a designer who does classic media?)... this habit is one of the worst.

It sucks because it wastes time (2)

delevant (133773) | about 14 years ago | (#794005)

I've had (and will doubtless continue to have) the same problems.

The part that bugs me the most is the HUGE amount of time wasted on these battles. Just when I finally win an argument (and get to ignore the Brand Identity guidelines), I get socked with another weenie insisting that all text absolutely must be half-inch Garamond.

It's not that I hate fighting these battles per se, it's that I keep having to fight them, over and over and over again, regardless of how many times I try to put my foot down.

Actual Content (2)

TheHaas (13095) | about 14 years ago | (#794006)

I tried for quite some time to have my little homepage to look nice. It was a pain - decent graphics took too long, then you had to mess around with different colors on the background. Then you had to go to a different machine to look at it, to make sure that it look the same on a Win9x machine w/ IE as on my Linux machine running Netscape 4.x. And, of course, it never did.

So I stopped - I think I now have three graphics on my whole "home site". I made all the colors the default (usually black on white, but on my Linux machine it's black on light gray, thanks to Netscape). So, since I made that decision, I decided to do something else on my site, to make sure that people would come back. Something rarely seen on the Web today (though that hasn't always been the case). I put in actual content. Naturally, it's my website, so it's all about me and my not-so-exciting life, but still - there is actual content on my web site.

- mikeh

Re:Web safe? I care not. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#794007)

Whoever mod'ed this down as a Troll missed the point. The guy is just expressing a very commonly held opinion that designing for the absolute lowest common denominator can be a waste of time. I don't see what's Troll-like about that. Or is disagreeing with the conclusions of a linked story "trolling" these days? Oh right, he took a shot at ten-year-olds. Ouch.

Re:Well... (1)

markalot (67322) | about 14 years ago | (#794008)

I bet there are people out there still running black and white, or green and white monitors. Lets don't leave them out now.

Doesn't the American Disabilities Act have a section in it for color safe palette?


learned the hard way (1)

niekze (96793) | about 14 years ago | (#794009)

i looked at my site's logo for
on one of the campus computers and you could only see the "nothing" but the other art is superb :)
So this is something i'll definetly follow up.

I Am Confused. (5)

Fleet Admiral Ackbar (57723) | about 14 years ago | (#794010)

Most of the time, when I browse, I can only see a few colors - blue for links, red for visited links, purple for emphasis, and white for everything else.

Is there something wrong with my Web Safety? Should I upgrade my version of Lynx to get all 22 colors?

Re:Even those 22 aren't web-safe... (2)

hawk (1151) | about 14 years ago | (#794011)

> What really bugs me recently is not color mismatches, but sites which
> have some sort of horizontal bar with many repeating vertical color
> streaks.

Say, I don't suppose tha you could explain to our human resources department that blue and grey horizontal stripes (every 3 or 4 pts) aren't a good background for black text . . .

uh-oh (1)

mrsalty (104200) | about 14 years ago | (#794012)

i sure hope that slashdot-green is on the list...

16 color (4 bit) (2)

yamla (136560) | about 14 years ago | (#794013)

Yes, there *are* some machines with only 16 colours (4 bit colour). And heck, even monochrome (1 bit) 'colour'. Many web sites worked fine on this computer with only black and white, but a large number did not.

If you want to be truly safe, you need enough contrast between your background and your foreground so that it works on machines with 1-bit colour.

But why bother? Nobody would seriously use such a machine to browse the web, as useful as it could be for other things. Similarly, do you really need to appeal to users with only 8-bit colour? I mean, so long as they can see something, is it really worth making it look perfect?

Gamma (or lack thereof) and the web safe palette (5)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about 14 years ago | (#794014)

Is it just me (and I don't know that much about color theory, just some perception) but an equal distribution of numbers in a color palette is horrible.

Gamma kinda goes like this, perception of differences isn't based on an absolute difference, but a percentage different. I can feel the difference between one ounce and two ounces much better than I can feel it between 30 punds and 30 pounds 1 ounce. The absolute difference is still 1 ounce, but the percentage is radically different. The perception curve is based on an exponential, and that exponent is named gamma.

The percieved color difference between 0x00 and 0x33 is radically different between 0xCC and 0xFF. You actually want a perceptually equidistant color space, not mathematically. Ever wonder why dark gifs look so bad? because there is too much spacing (perceptually) between colors at the bottom end.

As we said, computers like mathematical simplicity,

BS, programmers who don't understand color theory or are too lazy to program it right liked the mathematical simplicity.

Not true (I wish it was) (5)

Ian Schmidt (6899) | about 14 years ago | (#794015)

I've written low-level drawing code that had to work on 3 dozen video cards, so I know entirely too much about this. There are actually 3 flavors of "high color":

* 15 bit, no alpha channel, aka "555" color with 5 bits each of R, G, and B.
* 15 bit with alpha, aka "1555" with 1 alpha bit and 5 bits each of R, G, and B.
* 16 bit which (on PC hardware at least) is always "565" color, with 5 bits each for red and blue and 6 for green (because the human eye is more sensitive to variations in green).

You can of course treat 555 and 1555 the same in most cases. Older boards tended to be 555 format, while most newer designs are 565.

Re:15-bit color *is* 16-bit color (2)

Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) | about 14 years ago | (#794016)

Actually, there is a such thing as a 16-bit color mode that uses 5 bits for red, 6 for green, and 5 for blue (presumably because our eyes are slightly more sensitive to different shades of green), which does lead to 65,536 colors. As far as I know, some video cards use 15-bit mode for high colors, and others use 16-bit mode. I don't know of any that use both. Not to say there weren't inaccuracies in the article - see my comment below.

Re:-1 redundant ? (2)

Cy Guy (56083) | about 14 years ago | (#794017)

Don't forget transparent, that makes three colors.

By the way, viewing at 256 colors, the 22 color pallette [] looks more like 11 different colors with a bunch of duplicates.

Only 8 vertex colors are safe (1)

Colin Simmonds (4017) | about 14 years ago | (#794018)

Unfortunately, with Netscape 4.61 on an HP-UX TrueColor display (visual), 7 of the 22 really safe colors display GIF-BGCOLOR mismatches.

I see the same thing with Netscape 4.72 on an 8-bit HP-UX display.

Of course, some of the supposedly non-safe colors may work OK on my display, but if you're trying to be truly cross-platform, the number is reduced to 15 safe colors.

It's probably worse than that. I'll bet there's some platform out there that screws up some of these 15 safe colors, too. In the end, the only colors you can rely on to be the same across all color platforms are the eight at the vertices of the color cube:

  • Black (000000)
  • Red (FF0000)
  • Green (00FF00)
  • Blue (0000FF)
  • Cyan (00FFFF)
  • Magenta (FF00FF)
  • Yellow (FFFF00)
  • White (FFFFFF)

And here I was hoping that the world had long since left the CGA palette behind. :)

Re:The problem here is.... (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about 14 years ago | (#794019)

(*sigh* Why was the parent post marked Informative even though it left out the information, and instead made a vague assertion?)

In what way are the colors rendered an an "internally inconsistent manner"? If you explain what you mean, maybe someone will fix it in the next version...


Screen resolution (1)

blameless (203912) | about 14 years ago | (#794020)

It's been my experience that the client is pretty understanding when it comes to the issue of color.

The bane of my existence is screen resolution.

Client: Make sure the logo is two inches from the left side of the screen.
Me: Okay, whose screen?

Invariably, the site gets optimized for the somebody's mother's PC, which has a 19" monitor set at 640 x 480.

Gimp seems to have issues with colors (1)

shaldannon (752) | about 14 years ago | (#794021)

I've noticed in the past that Gimp seems to identify colors (particularly the hex values) differently from other programs (say, Paint Shop Pro). As a sample, create an image in PSP using a web-safe non-primary color (some really light or dark blue, for example). Test the hex value in PSP. Save the file to mytest.png. Open the file in Gimp and use the dropper on it. The hex value *WILL* be different (unless it's really close to a primary color). It doesn't at all surprise me that Gimp's idea of web-safe may not in fact *BE* web-safe.

if ($user =~ m/shaldannon/i) {
print "\n-- $user :)\n"

Not even on the same MACHINE-but it doesn't matter (2)

weston (16146) | about 14 years ago | (#794022)

I recently found time to begin learning photoshop for the first time at work. I thought I'd redesign my web page with my newfound skills.

What I found quickly was that even using a web safe palette in photoshop, and then viewing my page in netscape on the SAME MACHINE, the color was skewed. (Curiously enough, the color in question was actually closer to what I'd intended in netscape on a different (Mac) OS).

It didn't take me long to decide that there was pretty much no hope of complete color concordance, and I gave up, and just tried to make something that would look decent even if the colors drifted. That's pretty much what you have to do. Sort of like computer security?....

Are the 15-bit colors really not a subset of 24? (2)

Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) | about 14 years ago | (#794023)

In the article, the authors claim that when your monitor is in 15-bit mode, there are 32,768 colors it can display, and that these are chosen uniformly in a 32x32x32 quantization of RGB-space. This is correct. However, they also claim that none of these colors exist in true-color mode (except black and white and other pure colors) because, for example:

In 15-bit mode, the color (1,1,1) where each number is in the range 0-31 gives us about 3.23% gray.

In 24-bit mode, the closest colors you seem to have are (8,8,8) and (9,9,9) in the range 0-255 which correspond to 3.13% gray and 3.53% gray.

However, this assumes that at a hardware level, there is a difference in the signal being sent to the monitor between 3.23% and 3.13% for each color channel. Is that really the case? My guess would be that when you're in high color (15-bit) mode, each pixel gets translated to its nearest 24-bit equivalent inside of the video card before the signal sent to the monitor. This is almost certainly the case when the connection to the monitor is digital, like in some new flat-panel displays. Anybody know about this for sure?

What about PNGs? (1)

ERICmurphy (216776) | about 14 years ago | (#794024)

I know that PNGs don't work in the majority of browses, but would they have the same problem? I bet they would. Also there would be alpha-channel problems. Does anyone know more about this?

Re:It sucks because it wastes time (2)

Luminous (192747) | about 14 years ago | (#794025)

This reminds me when I was visiting a friends company and was playing on their website. I forced the browser to use my choice of link color and background color. It caused a few minutes of hubbub when his boss realized that their clients might be able to do this and make the website look really bad.

In the end, the best thing a designer can do is to Keep It Simple, Stupid. Too many colors too much going on will cause it to look bad on someone's machine.

Web is not print (2)

TheTomcat (53158) | about 14 years ago | (#794026)

I'm glad to see that they addressed the concept that different rules apply to different media.

My favorite is:
STRATEGY 9 -- Go back to print design.

Anyway, I ran into this trouble a couple weeks ago. What I _REALLY_ hate is if you have a GIF that's a solid color (say #006000) and you set the BGCOLOR of a table or body to the EXACT SAME COLOR, the browser displays the GIF and the BG differently. Drives me nuts.

Some day there will be a browser that actually works. Some day a long time after that, most people will be using a browser that actually works.

Until then, I'm forced to send design back to the design team over and over until they get a clue.

Someone else hire me. []

High-color *DITHERING*... (4)

whatnotever (116284) | about 14 years ago | (#794027)

Yet another inaccuracy in the article:

These "senior" whatever-they-are's didn't bother to look closely at their tests. They say that the color mismatches occur in high-color modes because the browser has to pick between (as an example) 1.9 and 2.1, from an original 2.0, and it doesn't always pick the same thing...

If they would look at their example images (ghost.gif and obvious.gif, linked from within the article), they would see that the BGCOLOR for the table cell was solid, but the GIF was *dithered*. They claim that it is a bug in the browser. You could consider it a bug, I suppose, but it's really just the fact that the browser assumes that BGCOLORS should be solid, and thus picks the nearest color, whereas images are quite often *not* solid shades of color, and they usually benefit from dithering.

Another nitpick: The fact that they claim these colors that don't pass their test in high color aren't "web safe" is inane, at best. They consider these colors "unsafe" because they are shifted slightly in high-color? Um, how often can you get colors to display consistently across all sets of hardware/software? Never. A little color shifting is irrelevant. *Maybe* you can have an issue with high-color dithering (which they didn't seem to notice), but that's pushing it...

Duhhh, I feel special because I picked apart an article written by guys making lots of money... :-P

Re:15-bit color is only stored in 16-bit chunks (2)

korr (32867) | about 14 years ago | (#794028)

Actually, that is incorrect. '15-bit' color data is indeed stored in 16-bit chunks, however when the distinction between 15-bit and 16-bit color data is being discussed, 15-bit usually refers to pixel data in the 5-5-5 (5 bits for each color component), where as 16-bit refers to it in the 5-6-5 format (5 bits for blue and red, 6 bits for green). The 5-6-5 format has 65536 unique colors, and the 5-5-5 format has 32768 unique colors. The pixel format of your high-color modes depends on your video card. Most video cards these days use 5-6-5 as their high-color pixel format, which does indeed give you a full 65536 colors.

The extra bit in 5-5-5 could theoretically be used for an alpha channel, however in reality it is almost always ignored.

The advantages of the 5-5-5 format is that the color components are more equal, so you get a full 32 shades of true grey rather than the pseudo almost-greys of the 5-6-5 format. Of course, for most photographic data you want as much color depth as possible, so the 5-6-5 format is preferred.

Re:Even those 22 aren't web-safe... (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | about 14 years ago | (#794029)

Perhaps it's CSS that Netscape 4.x doesn't understand correctly?

Netscrape 4.x definitely has some issues with its CSS implementation. Mainly I've seen problems with its interpretation of layout attributes, though it wouldn't surprise me if some text-color attributes might be screwed up as well.

Recent Mozilla builds seem to work much better, as does Internet Explorer.

/ v \
(IIGS( Scott Alfter (remove Voyager's hull # to send mail)

"web-safe palette" has nothing to do with quality (2)

Speare (84249) | about 14 years ago | (#794030)

The concept of a web-space palette has nothing to do with consistency between hardware setups.

The concept of a web-space palette has everything to do with using one general but limited set of colors for all images, when the hardware has only 8bpp in which to render.

If you're using a video card in a 8bpp hardware mode (common in 1994), the hardware must use a palette: a lookup from 8bpp indices to the analog RGB triple. There is only ONE hardware lookup table for all applications that have access to the screen.

In such a scenario, the graphics manager (Windows GDI, the MacOS equivalent, or whatever other system) generally gave the foreground app priority. It could load as many colors into the hardware lookup as it wanted (up to the obvious 256). All other apps had to use a "logical palette", which was a wishlist. The manager would map any spares to the best colors from all background apps' wishlists, and map any other graphics to the nearest equivalent in the definitive lookup.

Changing the hardware lookup meant "palette flashes", most commonly seen when switching between two graphics applications, each of which trying to optimally select colors for its graphics documents. The flash was because the hardware lookup changes took place instantaneously, while the software had to refresh their images at whatever speed the CPU and video memory accesses allowed for.

A web browser, unlike a graphics app, is used to render many images at once. Thus, it must in turn emulate the SAME sort of wishlist strategy for each image, not just each application.

The 216 color "safe" palette was proposed, because this was the most theoretically evenly spaced set of RGB values that filled the whole RGB gamut (6 levels R, 6 levels G, 6 levels B, 6*6*6=216, 216<256).

If the web browser app registered the 216 colors (plus any common shades of gray used by the default OS GUI), then it always had *some* chance of making a reasonable nearest-color compromise in every image it was asked to draw.

There is NO way to make 100% match between different mediums. Two different digital-to-analog chips (DACs) made from the same wafer of silicon will still have different thermal and amp response curves. The best you can do is approximate.

Macs and SGIs have inherently focused more on color reproduction quality, but they still vary a lot. PC cards are more interested in pixel pushing than in DAC quality, but they're better than ever at making good color. The reputations stick: Mac goes for high-saturation color, while PC goes for a flatter gamma.

That's not even getting into RGB vs CMYK color spaces... the monitor, even in "true color" 24bpp modes, can only approximate about half of the actual color space available to the human eye. Print media can also get only about two thirds.

Good logo designers have to consider embroidery, silkscreening on fabric, silkscreening on plastics, diecut metals, print and onscreen uses for that logo. You think the web was a limited environment for color choices!

In short: "Safe palettes" are good for reducing compromised color selections, and a common palette from app to app helps in reducing that hardware palette lookup flashing. If you're in a higher color mode, you don't get any of the latter case, and the 216 colors are irrelevant to the compromises made in the former case.

But you STILL won't look like your neighbor.

Re:The problem here is.... (2)

Vassily Overveight (211619) | about 14 years ago | (#794031)

Well, why don't you just suggest that they demand that site visitors must have a particular brand of monitor and video card before being allowed to enter? They can even require that potential visitors mail them receipts showing that they own the necessay items before receiving a password. That way they can pre-qualify the entire user base. Problem solved :-).

Oooh! I just had another thought. They can furnish each potential visitor with a pantone card set and gamma correction software, and insist that they adjust their monitors until they get just the right shading. Yeah, that'll work.

Two choices... (2)

sdo1 (213835) | about 14 years ago | (#794032)

OK, so when doing web graphics, I've got two choices...

1) Use a low-color palette and have graphics and pages that look generally crappy to everyone, or

2) Stick with the "don't worry about it" method and have graphics and pages that only look crappy to those with amazingly low color palettes.


who cares (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | about 14 years ago | (#794033)

Am I the only one who thinks this is a non-issue created by people obsessed over aesthetics and graphic design? I have never once come accross a site whose color combination has limited the functionality of the site. Sure, if you have photorealistic images or something, they might look slightly different, but really, for most cases, does precise matching of color matter *that* much (not to slight the color blind). I mean, the BSD and YRO sections of Slashdot are pretty damn ugly, but somehow I still manager to cope. Are there really people out there who are going "Hey, this site looks subtly different on my Mac! Damn you! Burn in hell! I will never buy your products!".

Who really cares if the colors are a bit off? (and I understand if it's a matter of principle - you don't design poorly if you know there is a right way to do something, but still...this seems like splitting hairs)

Color-blindness - relevant for ALL presentations (3)

skoda (211470) | about 14 years ago | (#794034)

As a scientist, I give presentations occaisionally, and a (male) audience member later told me he was red-green color-blind, as was ~10% of the male population.

Since then, I've tried to never use both red & green as the only distinguising characteristic on a chart, etc.

While I'm at it - blue & red should not be placed next to each other, generally. Since they fall roughly at opposite ends of the visible spectrum, the eye's focal power differs the most between those colors. As your eye/brain tries to focus properly on two colors that require slightly different adaptations, you can perceive a "vibration" -- the boundary between the red & blue will have a high-frequency shimmering or vibrating appearance.

This is not universal, and is most noticeable between bright solids with adjacent, straight edges.

Further OT - it can also be used to interesting effect. There's a laser-tag place nearby, and the carpet has a blue-grid pattern offset on a red-grid pattern, illuminated partly by blacklights. From the observation gallery it has a 3D effect, with the carpet looking as if it has 12" deep holes in it. I believe it's due to the red-blue focusing issue.
D. Fischer

A little evidence to back you up... (2)

Master of Kode Fu (63421) | about 14 years ago | (#794035)

There's evidence to back up your statement: [] , a subscription service that provides browser stats based on samples culled from sites that user their server stats technology, used to be free about a year ago. Even back then, their stats seemed to indicate that the prevalent setup for machines was 800*600 and 16-bit colour.

Re:15-bit color *is* 16-bit color (1)

iamriley (51622) | about 14 years ago | (#794036)

Similarly, 15/16-bit color is three 5-bit channels and a 1-bit padding/alpha channel, yielding 32768 colors, not 65536

As I understand it, the way 16-bit color is handled depends on the card. Some cards only use 15 bits for color (5 for each bit) and some use all 16. Of those that use all 16, green usually has the extra bit because tests (not that I've ever seen these tests) show that the human eye is more sensitive to green than it is to red or blue.

This (and some other inaccuracies in the article) cast some doubt as to how much the authors really understood what they were saying. For example, the web-safe palette still does protect you from dithering, and that's important.

From the article:

"[T]he colors that the system chooses are usually good (solid, true colors), but they're not exactly what you thought you were getting when you originally selected the colors for your site."

That said, the authors were very upfront about not being experts on the subject, so there very likely were some technical detail errors. I'm no expert either, so I couldn't point them out, but I can tell you that the two examples you give are certainly not inaccuracies.

lynx??? (1)

Alio (88083) | about 14 years ago | (#794037)

Why didn't they include lynx in the survey?

Sorry, one more thing. :) (2)

whatnotever (116284) | about 14 years ago | (#794038)

They say, "Unless you work entirely in black and white, approximately half your general audience won't properly see the colors you select for your site."

Ahem. Let's rephrase that: "No one but you will properly see the colors you select for your site." If they think that slight color shifts are a problem, they need to standardize everyone else's: browsers, OSs, graphics cards, monitors, viewing conditions, and eyes. Enjoy.

This should have been obvious (4)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | about 14 years ago | (#794039)

Forget True vs High color. There are more basic issues at work:

1) Non-color devices: Palms, cell-phones, terminals, lynx, etc.

2) The reason people care about "websafe" colors is that they want the client to see what the designer designed. But if I adjust the settings on my end, I don't see it anyway. "The settings on my end" include everything from constrast/brightness/etc on my monitor to the individual color tweaks available on some TVs (as in "WebTV").

It is literally impossible (not just difficult) to make this work, so why not design around it? Stop making pretty colors cover the fact that you have no content and actually give me some meaningful information.
Linux MAPI Server!

Re:Two choices... (2)

Luminous (192747) | about 14 years ago | (#794040)

And those people who have low color pallettes have gotten use to dithered colors. In their mind, that is what the web looks like. They have their resolution set at 640x480 and damn if they are going to change it. They like just five colors (red, green, blue, black, and white) and if they can see a purple a yellow and by golly an orange that doesn't dither, they are tickled pink.

I don't mean to be cruel to these users, but at some point in time designers have to stop designing for the lowest common denominator and move up to the second lowest common denominator.

Good Testing Methodologies (1)

helleman (62840) | about 14 years ago | (#794041)

I found it refreshing to see some decent software testing going on. Why does it take two yahoos to find out that there are serious rendering differences in browsers? I guess this is another result of the 'browser wars'. Freaking guys, get together and come up with a standard!

If only people TESTED their software. Jeeze, you think somebody at Micro$oft would have at least found that silly rendering bug.

I guess that's the problem when you aren't working from a spec (just make it up as you go....) Is there a spec stating how colours are to be rendered mathematically? Ie round up or round down in these cases?

It seems logical to me that in order to solve some of these ambiguious choices there has to be a spec.

Re:Well... (1)

Mr. Piccolo (18045) | about 14 years ago | (#794042)

<PEDANTIC>Or orange and black...</PEDANTIC>

Web-safe: not for many Slashdot users (1)

juniorbird (74686) | about 14 years ago | (#794043)

You'll note in this article that they tested their palette on Macs and Windows machines only. No flavors of Linux, no Solaris, no HP/UX...

Why? Because every platform has a different 256-color palette. So those Web-safe colors aren't Web-save on most X-Windowing machines anyway.

Re:Forget the web-safe palette! (2)

John Jorsett (171560) | about 14 years ago | (#794044)

I have to agree with the sentiment of 'tough luck, 8-bit users'. I'll use web-safe colors if it doesn't cost me anything (like on a page background color or simple drawing, for example), but most of the time I assume my visitors will have at least 16-bit color. I've had people who had 8-bit color look at these pages and they don't seem to mind; they're so accustomed to everything looking bad that my pages don't stand out any more than the others in that regard.

Pish-tosh (5)

rho (6063) | about 14 years ago | (#794045)

Old-timey graphic designer motto (which isn't taught in schools anymore, to judge by Wired and it's ilk):

No graphic design is better than bad graphic design

I'm kinda old-fogey about this. If it's black, you read it. If it's blue, you click on it. If it's grey, it's the background.

Jeez... If you're site is all about matching colors and transparent GIFs, you've got a brochureware site. Don't sweat it -- people will look at it once and never come back.

(Browsing Slashdot in "simple HTML mode"...)

Re:Web safe? I care not. (2)

Phroggy (441) | about 14 years ago | (#794046)

Inequality in Browsers doesn't mean i should have to suffer just 'cos you do.

You've missed the point completely. It's not that "whiny ten year old technology huggers" don't want you to see more than 22 colors, it's that because there are so many different browsers out there, and if a Web designer uses colors other than those specific ones, the colors will be displayed incorrectly by some browsers - possibly by yours. The graphics will still display, of course, but they won't be as the designer intended.

This, of course, is on top of all the quirks of layout rendering that make it impossible to design a decent-looking page that validates [] as clean HTML, and even still appear very different on some browsers.


Re:Actual Content (2)

skoda (211470) | about 14 years ago | (#794047)

On my personal site, I made graphics that looked good on my computer and stopped there. :) Well, I did some basic testing by viewing them at 4 different screen resolutions, and looked at a few things at different color depths. That helped with gross errors. But I didn't bother with I just didn't bother with subtle color-web-safeifying. Of course, having a five color paletee probably helped too.

Recently, looked at it on my dad's laptop through his AOL account, and it looked almost exactly as it is supposed to, javascript and all.

Oh yes, I have content too :)
D. Fischer

Glosses over issue of accuracy vs. consistency (5)

Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) | about 14 years ago | (#794048)

One of the most interesting things I learned in this article is how inconsistent web browsers are when attempting to render colors in 15 or 16-bit modes. I can imagine this happens because sloppy programmers might convert from an 8-bit number to a 5-bit number by doing a bit-shift, incorrectly ignoring the less significant bits.

This is a big deal, for example, if you need solid colors (like table BGCOLORS) seamlessly blending with GIF images. I can imagine this coming up sometimes, but not THAT often. Luckily they offered some suggestions to remedy this problem (like using a transparent color in your GIF where it blends with the background).

The authors of the article, however, seem to imply that one concern is that the colors people see are not the colors you intended for them to see. This is a different issue entirely! Just the fact that most monitors have brightness/contrast controls, plus the differences in gamma used by Macs and PCs, and other factors like this virtually guarantee that most users will not see exactly the color you intended.

Re:who cares (1)

blameless (203912) | about 14 years ago | (#794049)

It's more than just an issue of colors rendering differently on different platforms.

In some cases, Netscape displays indexed colors differently in a GIF than when specified in HTML as a bgcolor.

I've run into situtations where a GIF that has a specific RGB value is inserted into a table cell (or body tag) with the bgcolor attribute set to the matching hex value, and there is a distinct shift at the image's edge. And this is when the machine (PC or Mac) is set at 8-, 16-, or 24-bit color.

I've never seen it happen on IE, though.

The workaround is to use transparency in the GIF, but that's not always practical. Sometimes you have to reslice the image & rebuild the table.

And Cultural Sensitivity as well (3)

jabber01 (225154) | about 14 years ago | (#794050)

Especially for international business, web designers ought to be aware of the psychological payload of color schemes.

You would NEVER, for example, expect to do business with someone whom you pick up in a white limo in China - White is a color reserved for funerals, and typically associated with death.

Also, keep in mind the industry you are dealing with. For example, in Nuclear circles, where many people started out in the Navy, red means ON(hot) and green means OFF(cold)... So a flashing red marker might get misinterpreted.

But then again, developing a web site with your audience in mind is common sense, isn't it? Well, isn't it?

The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

99% of your audience are not anal web developers.. (3)

magnanamous_cow_herd (222627) | about 14 years ago | (#794051)

A secretary in my office has a windows95 machine that the sysadmin never installed the correct video driver on. Her machine is set on "default display" which only displays 256 colors.

It never bothered her that everything looked really weird.

Consider your audience.
Design accordingly.

Roughly 99.9% of the general population are not anal retentive web developers.

Re:The problem here is.... (3)

PurpleBob (63566) | about 14 years ago | (#794052)

Okay. There's a really cool thing you can do to help clear up this "vague assertion". It's called... RTFA [] .

People shouldn't have to repeat information from the article for your convenience.
No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.

Re:Not even on the same MACHINE-but it doesn't mat (2)

rho (6063) | about 14 years ago | (#794053)

I know your exact problem. Photoshop 5.5, right? Go to the RGB settings under Color Settings under the File menu. Change it to Monitor RGB or Adobe RGB 1998. Also turn off the embedding of a profile for RGB images.

Photoshop 5.5 has a lot of nice stuff, but fungling with my colors is a big bugaboo.

Web-Safe is obsolete (1)

tschak (90399) | about 14 years ago | (#794054)

The web safe colors (aka Netscape Color cube) was useful back in the days of Netscape 1.0 and 14.4 modems. These colors are the few that woudn't get dithered on a 8-bit (256 color) screen. Say nothing about color accuracy.

Now, in the days of 8mb video cards in even the worst computers you can buy and high speed connections, limiting your web design to those 'web safe' colors is just plain stupid. Use a JPEG or PNG, damn it!

Re:Incorrect details (2)

Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) | about 14 years ago | (#794055)

In theory, an operating system can display any 256 colors, but your machine would take a real performance hit if it had to redraw its palette every time you toggled between applications. In theory, an operating system can display any 256 colors, but your machine would take a real performance hit if it had to redraw its palette every time you toggled between applications.

Well, I used to run "netscape -install" on my 8bit X server and that's exactly what it did.

Sure, on many operating systems, different programs swap in different palettes when different programs are in the foreground. On your 8-bit Xserver, netscape was swapping in its 216 favorite colors. The Mac's done this since 1987 and it still works great. But it wouldn't make sense for a web browser to swap in a new color palette for each new web page. Especially because then it would be impossible for two different sites to be displayed in different frames.

Re:I Am Confused. (1)

ralphb (15998) | about 14 years ago | (#794056)

You have colors in Lynx? Luxury! All I have is black & white (and inverse video for links).

Re:High-color *DITHERING*... (3)

Luminous (192747) | about 14 years ago | (#794057)

Another nitpick: The fact that they claim these colors that don't pass their test in high color aren't "web safe" is inane, at best. They consider these colors "unsafe" because they are shifted slightly in high-color?

I'd like to see these tests run again (or just looked at again) and count the number of colors that the color shifted but was only a slight degree. I understand why the colorshift is a factor as I had to design a website using frames that a .gif of a solid color had to match the BGROUND color of an adjacent frame in order to look correct. I suffered the subtle shifting problem and had to keep switching colors to get it right. What was worse was I only had the choice of dark blues and light grays.

But I think that is a rare problem as most of the time, as they mentioned in their article, transparency can be used to allow the BGROUND color come through and you will have a direct match.

Stupid Client Tricks (4)

TheTomcat (53158) | about 14 years ago | (#794058)

We had a client who was checking out their website on two different (same brand, model etc) laptops, same OS, same browser. Same color depth.

They couldn't figure out why the colors weren't exactly the same, and over the phone, we didn't catch the problem either. Naturally, they thought it was a problem with our design or programming.

So, when they were here for a meeting, they brought the laptops along, connected to the site, and said "There, see? The colors aren't the same."

They were right. The colors weren't the same despite exact same configurations on the two machines.

I _REALLY_ impressed them when I reached up and adjusted the brightness and contrast of the darker laptop.


You can't use 9 of them... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#794059)

If you are so flaming concerened about color that you think you need to use those 22 colors, you're really in trouble. Nine of the colors are either green or red. Why does this matter? Well colorblind people can't distinguish between green and red. So if color is that important to your site you'd better forget about it.

Re:Gamma (or lack thereof) and the web safe palett (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | about 14 years ago | (#794060)

That's very interesting. I'd never thought of it that way before. IIRC, hearing works the same way. (Every octave is a doubling of frequency.)

I wonder, then, why the "named" colors (purple, darkred, snow, cornflowerblue, etc) in browsers tend to be more prolific above 0xF0 and much less under about 0x30. Did Netscape think we needed more variations of off-white colors than off-black ones?

Re:Web is not print (1)

TobyWong (168498) | about 14 years ago | (#794061)

yes that is certainly annoying... the workaround is to make a little 10x10 pixel square the same colour as your main gif background and tile with that rather than just specifying a hex background colour...

Re:Not even on the same MACHINE-but it doesn't mat (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | about 14 years ago | (#794062)

Perhaps because the MacOS is designed with a more visually correct gamma than others. *shrug* And maybe Photoshop has its own built-in corrections on other platforms. Just an idea.

Re:Gamma (or lack thereof) and the web safe palett (2)

skoda (211470) | about 14 years ago | (#794063)

I read just enough color theory to survive my Ph.D. prelim several years ago, and promptly purged it from memory, so take this for what it's worth...

You're right, human perception is not a linear function. We perceive green most strongly, over red and blue (in terms of a fundamental RGB colorspace). Also, our perception efficiency is roughly a bell-curve for each spectrum (R, G, B) with the max at some particular hue of each one.

Our perception is also significantly affected by external conditions: adjacent colors, lighting.

Two adjacent (non-white) colors will be perceived differently than if isolated on a white background.

All lights have a spectrum; put another way, few (none?) consumer & commerical lights produce "white" light. Mercury-vapor lamps (i.e. street lights) are distinctly yellow. Neon lights, I think, have more blue than sunlight. So on. This leads to the common experience of buying a purple shirt in a neon-lit store and finding out it's blue in the sunlight (or whatever; I don't recall the particular color shifts). Likewise, a certain blue, say, may be very appealing, but when surrounded by a certain green, say, it no longer appears as expected. Combine that with the lighting issues, and you've got a mess.

Related to lighting is the eye's light-adaptation level. When dark-adapted, nearly all color vision is lost, with the eye being most sensitive to red. So, a someone reading a magazine (or computer monitor) at night with dim lighting will see the colors differently than outside on a sunny day. (aside: I usually sleep on my side, so one eye is covered by the pillow and the other isn't. On a sunny morning, the non-covered eye is somewhat light-adapted whereas the other is more dark-adapted when I wake up. My green-lettered alarm clock then appears dual-colored. One eye sees the green but the other sees more yellow. Try it sometime: keep one eye covered for about 10 minutes and then look at strongly colored objects :)

Back to the original poster...uniformly spaced color doesn't seem like the best choice for human interface issues. But since when have computer programmers concerned themselves with human interface issues? :)
D. Fischer

Re:who cares (2)

Master of Kode Fu (63421) | about 14 years ago | (#794064)

I guess it's because it's an issue that's near and dear to their hearts. They are artists, after all. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that they thought various technical debates -- say, KDE vs. Gnome or Linux vs. Windows vs. MacOS vs. BeOs -- were non-issues created by people obsessed over licensing issues and software design.

There's a time and place for getting colour matches as close as possible. When you're trying to choose something based on colour, you'll probably want as close a match as possible (that's why they print J. Crew catalogs on good paper). If I were reading a news story with photos, colour matching would be less crucial, but it would be bad if the colours were completely off. In the case of the colours being way off on some Slashdot discussions, it's annoying but not so bad unless the colour combo rendered the aricles unreadable. The necessity of sweating over the details depends on the application and judicious use of the mantra, "the best is the enemy of the good." If I had a deadline, I wouldn't sweat over the fact that the about box's graphics weren't the exactly correct shade.

I do like it that some people concentrate on getting detail right. Take various GUIs. The icon redraw when opening a folder with a large number of files in the MacOS and in KDE and Gnome is much faster than in Windows 98. I won't even get into the garishly unsubtle choices in the Windows palette (even in 32-bit colour, you're stuck with the Win palette for colouring icons). Nothing major, but enough to give the feel that there's some shoddy construction under Windows' hood. Sometimes the little things do count.

I'm glad we have people who care about good design and aesthetics -- I'm all for beauty as long as functionality is not sacrificed, and I think it may be harmful in the long run if beauty is sacrificed on the altar of functionality. Bring on the iMac, the Terayon cable modem, the Vaio, Korg synths and Nokia phones. They work well, and they look good too.

Re:It sucks because it wastes time (2)

kootch (81702) | about 14 years ago | (#794065)

I think the above is the whole reason why CSS was implemented; as a means to allowing a designer to keep a client's client from changing their precious design into something really heinous that could potentially screw up the aesthetics of the site they labored (yea, right) and spent $500,000 to create.

Let me make this one thing abundantly clear (2)

KnightStalker (1929) | about 14 years ago | (#794066)

Good graphic design is better than no graphic design.
Useful != plain.
Useful != ugly.
Well designed sites include, but are not limited to, brochure sites.
Default background with text at the full width IS a design choice, and usually a bad one.

You can have a useful, well-organized site that people return to, AND doesn't look like it was designed by programmers who spend 14 hour days in their caves reading nothing but man pages.

Re:Web safe? I care not. (1)

mbadolato (105588) | about 14 years ago | (#794067)

Oh right, he took a shot at ten-year-olds. Ouch.

No I think he meant, huggers of 10 year old technology, not technology huggers that are 10 years old.

Re:The problem here is.... (3)

bug-eyed monster (89534) | about 14 years ago | (#794068)

The point is that the browser regards all presentational information provided in your web page as hints only. You may ask the browser to display something in Italic Arial, but you should not count on it, you may ask the browser to display something in the color #fceb20 but you should not count on that either.

Also, browser are free to apply different rules to presentational hints in the HTML content versus color information provided in graphical files. The main beef of the article in question is that browsers treat BGCOLOR directives, an HTML presentational hint, differently from color info in GIFs, which is not surprising at all because the two are totally unrelated items. It is quite possible to view a well-made HTML page without rendering the images, while it is also easy to view a GIF without a web browser.

The "web-safety" of the colors as defined by the article is only an issue when an author is trying to match the colors inside a GIF with those inside the remainder of a page. A more intelligent author would assume that GIFs and HTML may be rendered by two totally separate engines (perhaps even plugins) within the same browser, and therefore not expect anything other than the minimal spatial relationships between the two.

I'm supposed to.... (3)

SquadBoy (167263) | about 14 years ago | (#794069)

take web color choice advice from the people who built this. [] Right...

Re:Screen resolution (1)

Denial of Service (199335) | about 14 years ago | (#794070)

I have one client who has a 21" monitor set to 640x480x8. I laugh out loud each and every time I see that thing.

Re:Screen resolution (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | about 14 years ago | (#794071)

The bane of my existence is screen resolution.

Really? After reading the sample conversation, it seems the bane of your existence is actually clueless clients that don't understand web publishing.

But yeah, I know what you mean.

Re:Even those 22 aren't web-safe... (1)

dentin (2175) | about 14 years ago | (#794072)

It's even worse than that: on my linux machine using netscape 3.0, 3 of the 22 don't render correctly; on my aix box running netscape 4.6, 10 of the 22 don't render correctly. There can only be 12 of these truly safe colors, probably less since I'll bet some of my failures don't overlap with yours.


Re:Forget the web-safe palette! (2)

The Man (684) | about 14 years ago | (#794073)

Amen to that! Anyone still using an 8-bit display needs to upgrade. Period. If you use 8-bit Indexed displays you are probably used to looking at everything dithered anyway, so what's the real difference if a web page doesn't look as good? I'd be much happier if designers would assume that either a) I have a 24/32 bit direct color display on a 1280x1024 screen or better, or b) I'm blind and/or using a text-only browser and want the ALT tags and such instead. Designing for an 8-bit indexed display is just foolish and subjects the rest of us to ugliness. Much like the "designed for 800x600" anachronisms that give us tiny text on the left side and a thrice-repeated sidebar background. The era of the 14-inch monitor running 640x480x8 is long gone; let's make the most of the improved technology!

That said, I don't believe most good web pages will use more than 3 or 4 colors anyway. The only situation I can really see this mattering for is things like photographs and artwork. Pages that are too complicated are ugly anyway.

Re:Incorrect details (1)

operagost (62405) | about 14 years ago | (#794074)

Well, I used to run "netscape -install" on my 8bit X server and that's exactly what it did.
Same on OS/2. On 256 color systems you can enable Palette Manager to allow pallette switching.

Re:Are the 15-bit colors really not a subset of 24 (1)

dangermouse (2242) | about 14 years ago | (#794075)

Well, that may be so, but you're still approximating. If your hardware is playing the closest-match game, you have the same problems of consistency you did when your software was playing it.

Re:Screen resolution (1)

blameless (203912) | about 14 years ago | (#794076)

Icons are frightening when they're that big.

Re:Forget the web-safe palette! (2)

Tony Shepps (333) | about 14 years ago | (#794077)

What's more, so many sites are ignoring 8-bit color at this point that users of the older technologies are used to seeing everything dithered and cruddy. This doesn't mean it's not a consideration, but...

Audio engineers, for example, should generally base their production work on studio "reference" monitors even though a lot of people are going to listen to their work through old 3" car speakers. It won't sound bad to those listeners, because to those listeners everything sounds equally bad.

Re:Color Standards? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 14 years ago | (#794078)

And that's very nice, but until we have monitors that work with subtractive color, patone isn't going to solve this problem. Pantones describe the colors of INK. While it's useful for computers to display a close approximation (it is of course, totally off the wall impossible for them to display the _precise_ match) Pantones really only need to be seperated properly. Of course, this is a gigantic pain in the ass for today's breed of lazy designers who are used to having computers that display color, so it's mostly done automatically now.

Anyone here old enough to remember pre-Mac computerized layout? I've worked on a Barco Mini-PDP - not all that much fun, but great in it's day. it was still in use as of '99;)

Re:Not even on the same MACHINE-but it doesn't mat (1)

dangermouse (2242) | about 14 years ago | (#794080)

I would just like to say: way to know your shit!
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