The Tragicomic History of CSS Color Names

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Geoff Graham on

Ever wondered why we have CSS color names like tomato, salmon and darkgoldenrod? Ars Technica on the evolution (and convolution) of the “Named Colors” spec:

Backlash ensued. The color database had been subjected to the whims of so many different programmers that it became deeply disorganized, leading some to argue it had no place in CSS. Critics attacked its naming scheme: “dark gray” was lighter than “gray”; there was a “medium violet red” but no “violet red”; “light goldenrod yellow” had no corresponding “goldenrod yellow.” In total 17 colors had dark versions, but only 13 had light ones. Color distribution was also uneven, skewing toward reds and greens and away from blues.

Nerds having trouble naming things? You don’t say.

There are murmurs from the deep about future versions of color naming with a more standardized approach. Where variations like “dark”, “light”, “deep”, or “dull” have specified meaning, and certainly come off the fingers easier than programmatic coloring like rgb or hsl.

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