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Web Developers and Artists -- What does a color really look like?

By Andrew Pollack on 06/23/2009 at 01:55 PM EDT

The two images in the sample to the right - which LOOK like different colors, are not. they are the same web page and being displayed on the same computer with nearly the same settings. In both cases, the color is defined as "#15433D".

The only difference, is that the one on top is shown in Firefox using the relatively little known feature introduced in version 3.x which uses the color profile configuration you have set up for your monitor when it renders images.

These settings are "gfx.color_management.enabled" and "gfx.color_management.display_profile". You can turn them on by typing "about:config" into the address bar in Firefox 3.x, or you can use the Color Management Add-On to switch it on and off.

My laptop is pretty standard issue. It's a Dell D820 with a 15" LCD, and is set to use the color profile that came for that display. Telling Firefox to use this profile doesn't change most images, but it DOES change some defined colors pretty dramatically. Many JPG and some other file formats for images actually contain their own color profiles, and using these settings will tell Firefox to use those as well.

As Firefox goes, so goes the other browsers, so don't be surprised if this doesn't become much more wide spread. When I ask what does "#15433D" actually look like, I think you'd better give real thought to that because it may just be your next big Web Browser Compatibility Issue.


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