Browser-Safe Color Palette

I’ve been creating and publishing content on the Internet for more than a decade.

Back in those early days when I first began, one of the very few fundamental rules of web design was to use a browser-safe color scheme that could be properly displayed with graphics cards and CRT monitors that were limited to displaying a mere 256 colors — a once-common limitation that is in deep contrast to today’s ultra-high-end equipment that can generate in excess of 200 trillion colors.

For new designs, I often consulted online references to help me choose the right colors. Unfortunately the color palette was always presented in rectangular charts, making it difficult to select subtle differences in tonal relationships.

I wanted a better solution. It took over two years (not all at once, mind you!) to create a pure HTML layout that was mathematically sound, visually communicative, useful, and (dare I say) cool. I am proud to say that my visual reorganization of the palette was one of the first published successful attempts to do so, if not the first.

Today, while there is certainly no harm in using the standard web-safe palette, the need for using it seems antiquated and outdated, and many designers ignore the old mandate — assuming they even know about it in the first place. However, there are still valid reasons to stick with the old rules, or at least remember and be aware of them.

As the Internet becomes more and more accessible by devices other than your flat-panel monitor that can handle 16 billion colors, it may still make sense to use the browser-safe versions; it was only a few years ago that Internet-enabled cell phones surpassed the ability to display 256 colors. Both safe mode and the default display settings right out of the box on many Windows machines are still set to 256 colors. Many people don’t know that they can change that setting, let alone know how to do it.

Choose a palette suitable for your visitors. If your website audience is expected to be students, enterprise users, seekers of multimedia, or more high-tech users, stepping outside the palette is fine. Google (targeting all of the world’s users) tends to use browser-safe colors more frequently than sites like Facebook, Flickr, or YouTube.

Another subtle and often-overlooked benefit to using the 256-color palette is that the more common 16.7-million-color palette of today makes it much easier for web designers with absolutely no knowledge of color theory to create horrifically ugly websites just that much easier!

My advice is two-fold: Do what you want, but play it somewhat “safe”. Web-safe colors are still the best choice for large flat surfaces of color, especially when overlaid text is involved. Almost anything else goes for the rest.

The palette in this 2007 posting was a republishing of the original one I finished in 1998. Keep in mind that in order for the colors to be represented properly, my model includes all 256 possible color combinations for symmetry, not just the 216 “safe” colors.

Warcraft Guide to Movie Trailers

Yet another 24-hour project (the third!) from World of Warcraft’s Azeroth Film Institute.

To recap, the goal is to complete a video from concept to first rendering within 24 hours. Final rendering and some polishing can occur afterward, but the 24-hour deadline is firm.

I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I did making it! I am particularly proud of the matching of lyrics to the antics of my gnomish Marvin the Robot character (especially at 1:25), and the “blowing things up” scenes starting at 1:17.

The main reason for the deadline is because that’s about the maximum length of time my wife can stand me glued to my computer at one sitting watching the same clips over and over again. Any longer than that is a virtual impossibility, the finite improbablity of which can be calculated by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Blunderflame Level 42 Mechanical Dragonling Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer — which I managed to scrape off the soles of my boots after visiting Mulgore last Friday.

Happy Autumnal Equinox, Equinox!

Author’s Note: After all these years, this short video remains my favorite creation so far.

Vista Can Not See XP Computers

The Problem

When you run Network Map on a Microsoft Windows Vista-based computer, computers that are running Windows XP do not appear on the network diagram.

The Solution

Microsoft says that that’s not Vista’s fault, rather it is a problem with your XP computer for not supporting Link-Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD). Therefore, your outdated Windows XP requires a patch.

Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed…
* Microsoft Windows XP Professional
* Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

The Rant

Does anyone else see a problem with this? Why is this considered a “confirmed problem” with XP? Shouldn’t this be a “confirmed problem” with Vista? Did it ever occur to any of the nimrods at Microsoft to include some basic backwards-compatibility in Vista?

Oh, I get it now! It’s my fault for wanting to see the other computers in my network the same way I’ve been able to for the past six years. What was I thinking?!

Thankfully, Microsoft is not in the automotive industry, otherwise we’d see more notices like this:.

Thank you for purchasing Microsoft Antenna Ball™ v2.0. Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that the aerial to which you are attempting to attach said Antenna Ball is not compatible with the Microsoft Heliosphere Electromagnetic Locking Protocol (HELP).

Resolution: To resolve this problem, remove the existing aerial and install Microsoft Aerial™ v3.5 before attempting to install Microsoft Antenna Ball.

Prerequisites: To install Aerial v3.5, you must have Windows Car Radio Aerial Protocol™ (SP2) installed in the vehicle, available from the Microsoft Download Center.

You may download Microsoft CRAP free of charge, but Microsoft HELP is only available after purchase of something really expensive. We’ll let you know what it is and how much it will cost you when we finish uploading your Microsoft Money files for analysis. You may not obtain or attempt to obtain Microsoft HELP through any means not intentionally made available by Microsoft.

Release Notes: There are reports of the titanium shell of Antenna Ball 2.0 impacting the windshield when traveling over 20 MPH, causing crack lines and divots in inferiorly manufactured windshields. Microsoft recommends Home users avoid speeds in excess of 15 MPH. Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate users may download the Microsoft Special High-Impact Titanium™ patch. Microsoft SHÍT is free.

Good luck getting HELP.


Looks like Microsoft is entering the automotive industry with its adaptive heads-up user interface for automobiles. Gives you a brand-new perspective on the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).