back to article Forget tabs – the new war is commas versus spaces: Web heads urged by browser devs to embrace modern CSS

The web is being reworked to display a rainbow of previously unavailable colors, but part of the transition demands abandoning commas for spaces when coding CSS color-space parameters. Word of the new cruelty went out via Twitter on Thursday when Mathias Bynens, who works on Google's Chrome team, advised web developers to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems like attention...


  2. Jonathan Richards 1

    The fight below \040

    > an effort ... by Tab Atkins Jr. get rid of unnecessary commas ...

    In the (61, 66, 139) corner, Tab vs. \054 in the (255,0,0) corner.

    But is he a VT \013 or an HT \009?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The fight below \040

      I see the (,,255) corner is not addressible using the new notation...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've not done any CSS in years, but that new syntax looks far harder to read, the comma and space provides a nice break between the values, and hsl(198deg 28% 50% / 50%) is that 50% / 50% 100% ?, no idea if that's a calculation or 3 different values or what right off. If its 3 values, as space is the value separator, what is the / meaning, no value?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Stupid millennials

      Readability is not a concern for "modern" advocates in code or anywhere else. Just look at the sad fate of the Oxford comma. It's not even a modern concept - the Bronze Age didn't use any punctuation.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Stupid millennials

        the Bronze Age didn't use any punctuation.

        They didn't use toilet paper either.

        Today, is touch and cloth go whether we can get any either.

      2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Stupid millennials

        What sad fate of the Oxford comma? As an editor of scientific papers, I use it every day. It has the potential to remove ambiguity and never creates it. No brainer. Most journals I work with even require it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stupid millennials

          I use it, and frequently so.

          1. Spamfast

            Re: Stupid millennials

            I use it, and frequently so. I like. Have an up-vote.

            What sad fate of the Oxford comma? As an editor of scientific papers, I use it every day. It has the potential to remove ambiguity and never creates it. No brainer. Most journals I work with even require it.

            It's a poorly written sentence that relies on an Oxford comma to disambiguate between meanings that are both plausible in context.

            Now, donning my asbestos writing gloves, where do we stand on the possessive apostrophe? Would pedants like us be happier if it were abolished so we wouldn't have to rail against greengrocers' signs?

            Discuss ...

            1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

              Re: Stupid millennials

              It's a lackadaisical writer who avoids clarifying meaning where ambiguity may remain.

              The possessive's use is self-evident when discussing possessives, Grocers' grosser grotesqueries notwithstanding.

            2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

              Re: Stupid millennials

              It's a poorly written sentence that relies on an Oxford comma to disambiguate between meanings that are both plausible in context.

              Why? To use an example I just found: “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.” You could spend several minutes thinking about how to re-phrase that to avoid ambiguity. However, you could instead just take almost zero time having included a comma in the first place and move on knowing there is no chance of ambiguity and the phrasing of your sentence is exactly as you wanted in the first place. Rhythm and tone often matter. Why would anyone somersault around and bend the structure of a sentence just because of an ideological opposition to a simple punctuation convention that causes no problems and solves many?

              I'm guessing you also do somersaults to studiously avoid splitting infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions: both are things I'm happy to put up with. So there.

              1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

                Re: Stupid millennials

                The latter is something up with which I shall not put.

              2. WereWoof

                Re: Stupid millennials

                It remind sme of this joke:

                he European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

                As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

                In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

                There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

                In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

                Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

                Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

                By the 4th yer peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

                During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

                Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

                Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

              3. Spamfast

                Re: Stupid millennials

                Where's the Oxford comma in “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

                “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod, and a dildo collector.” contains an Oxford comma.

                By your measure though, it's still ambiguous because it could still be two or three highlights. What should I do - put two commas after "Mandela"?!

                I don't need an Oxford comma to rule out Nelson being divine or ancient because I'm not superstitious and I haven't been living in a cave for the past fifty years so I know that he was a person and that people can't be demigods and don't live to 800. This means that the sentence must be referencing three highlights not two or one. One has to be sensible about when something might need a clearer formulation!

                An Oxford comma is easy to miss so something that is genuinely ambiguous may still require a double-take even if it has one. If you need to use a screen reader it can be even more confusing.

                As for infinitives & prepositions then when I'm writing a CV, product brief or grant proposal you're damn right I avoid split & trailing ones respectively. I've been on both ends of the processes in question and believe me, weeding out the submissions with poor grammar is usually done early on. If you can't be arsed to get that right I have to question your commitment.

        2. JLV
          Thumb Down

          Re: Stupid millennials

          > Shoulda taken a break, not an Oxford comma

          Billie Eilish, purebred millennial "my strange addiction". First time my OK Boomer self, English 2nd lang, looked up that particular grammar structure. Don't assume stupidity from others, unless others == Trump.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid millennials

        I have a similar problem with a millenial where I work. All the guy wants to do is try things that, to anyone with experience, will obviously fail or result in problems down the track.

        One great example was concerning a process that took around 30 minutes to produce a result that was used down the line by further processes. His idea was to just put all the code (not sure what he was going to do about the numerous parameters) into a common library so all those downstream processes could just produce the numbers themselves "because it's simpler and there's no need to worry about timing". Incidentally he's ignorant of how easy it is for modern job schedulers to take account of dependencies. I tried explaining that, sometimes, in order to get greater performance or efficiency systems naturally become more complex. I think I could almost see the words entering one ear and filtering unimpeded out of the other.

        This is one of many half-baked ill-conceived ideas of his. Unfortunately, because he's an academic high achiever, the boss listens to him like it's a sermon from Christ. Classic case of book-smart vs real-world smart.

        1. SuperGeek

          Re: Stupid millennials

          "I tried explaining that, sometimes, in order to get greater performance or efficiency systems naturally become more complex."

          I agree. It's like CANbus. Ignorant people that don't appreciate or understand it think it's too complex, because "it's computerized and full of sensors". Those computers, along with the diagnostic ability of fault codes for each fault, make things SIMPLER and EASIER. No more spending HOURS diagnosing shitty carburettor based DUMB systems!

          OK, things go wrong (rarely the computer itself), but the basics are you have input, process and output. If an input is faulty (sensor, wiring) the process cannot happen, thereby no output, or output affected. They just love blaming computers. I'm assuming coding is the same?

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Stupid millennials

          I had a case of "but its elegant and readable". Yes, it was elegant and human readable. Unfortunately it was a complete pigs-ear, when it came to actually being executable.

          Under moderate server load (250 guests over 4 load-balanced front end servers), the script to get the menu structure for the site would keel over and timeout at 2 minutes!

          Re-structuring the query to be (still) human readable, but actually optimized for what the computer had to do, the query time was reduced to < 500ms when all 4 load balancers were handling 250 sessions each.

          It isn't just a "millenial" problem, it has affected poor programmers ever since I have worked in IT, going back to the early 80s. There are programmers who understand how the underlying hardware, operating system and application stack work and those that can just churn out "pretty" code. Oh, and those that just shouldn't be let near a computer in the first place!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stupid millennials

          ...sometimes, in order to get greater performance or efficiency systems naturally become more complex...

          Oh I see this all too regularly. Its depressing. Far too many PHBs think that having something happen 'at the push of a button' is an easy thing to do. They have no concept of the amount of work that needs to happen once the 'button' is pushed.

          Then you'll get the 'That button - can you get it to do this/that/the other. Its already there, surely its an easy change....'.

          Suddenly you're going from a button that would deploy a system to a button that they want to deploy a system, install software, configure stuff, do some stuff (but maybe not, depends on a few things) and then take the dog for a walk.

          But its still 'just a button' to the PHB....

      4. veti Silver badge

        Re: Stupid millennials

        On the contrary, the Oxford comma, after languishing for several decades, is enjoying a comeback right now.

        Nobody cares about readability of CSS because nobody writes it by hand. We have tools that can do the job better, for any value of "better" that values results vs effort as opposed to outmoded concepts such as brevity or efficiency.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Stupid millennials

          I write it by hand all the time. You think I'm going to rely solely on a bunch of frameworks and generators to do all the work? I've seen the results of those things. No thanks.

          1. IGnatius T Foobar !

            Re: Stupid millennials

            Not to mention ... if you write your CSS by hand, it's likely to outlive the tools that others are using to generate CSS.

      5. IGnatius T Foobar !

        Re: Stupid millennials

        I always use Oxford commas and the 4096-color #FFFFFF color space. Feh.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "/ 50%" is the opacity. rgba(0, 0, 0, 50%) is equivalent to rgb(0 0 0 / 50%)

      1. Glen 1

        The fact it needed to be said shows that it is a bad idea.

        If I wanted to put up with non-obvious crap like that, I'd use VIM/EMACS

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          It's literally in the spec. If you can't be arsed to read it, you - wait, you don't use vi OR emacs? Ah. I think I see the problem.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "It's literally in the spec."

            The phrase "if you read the manual" does not excuse poor user experience - in fact, it's an indication of it. If something (functionality, behaviour, etc) is non-obvious to a good proportion of the intended user/customer base, then whoever designed it messed up.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              RTFM. A phrase so well known in IT, you can probably manage that one without looking it up.

              No matter how good the design, there will always be the kind of user that would rather spend 20 minutes writing an email (or 5 writing a comment) to complain, instead of 2 minutes to read the documentation. Some people literally can't help themselves.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Coming soon


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coming soon


      1. BrownishMonstr

        Re: Coming soon

        Sir, I use it, therefore I am not an Azi.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Coming soon

          You should be alert. Your country needs lerts.

  5. Robert Grant Silver badge

    since 2016 there's been an effort spearheaded by Tab Atkins Jr, a developer on the Google Chrome team, and Elika Etamad (@fantasai), a member of W3C CSS Working Group and a Mozilla contributor, to get rid of unnecessary commas in CSS code related to color

    Really addressing the big problems there.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "Get used to the modern"

      related, when I hear the word "modern" I prepare for the *cringe*...

      And if arbitrarily creating some "new way" to do things BREAKS EXISTING THINGS... the resulting chaos won't be worth it [except to the eggheads who came up with 'yet another "modern" to foist upon us']

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "Get used to the modern"

        Have you ever been learning a new language or something, and then you come across one command or instruction which works in a completely different way to every other command in that language?

        That's why they're changing this. It was the equivalent of a car with imperial sized lug nuts when every other fastener was metric.

        1. rtharrison

          Re: "Get used to the modern"

          Obviously you would change all the metric stuff to imperial.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "Get used to the modern"

            That might be too "modern for Bob". I'm sure he still measures his nuts in millifurlongs!

            1. ovation1357

              Re: "Get used to the modern"

              Alice might be interested in Bob's nuts!

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: "Get used to the modern"

                Only if they are hand turned. None of this modern mass production rubbish!

              2. bombastic bob Silver badge

                Re: "Get used to the modern"

                i got two sets o tools to handle that...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Get used to the modern"

            Why would you change metric stuff to imperial?

            That's a completely ridiculous idea when the world is moving to ElReg's standard units for measurement.

            For a start, I think ElReg should support the use of vantablack while avoiding any royalty issues by defining it as (∞,∞,∞)

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: "Get used to the modern"

              "For a start, I think ElReg should support the use of vantablack while avoiding any royalty issues by defining it as (∞,∞,∞)"

              Shirley that would be ultra white? InfiniBlacktm would be (-∞,-∞,-∞)

              1. P. Lee

                Re: "Get used to the modern"

                Is that the rwo's complement version of infinity?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Get used to the modern"

              I keep waiting for Trump to come up with a totally new measurement system.

              "I think it is a good idea" said the POTUS.

              "We will call it the 'Trump'. IT will have a variable lenght that is based upon how long my nose is.

              People all over the USA cringe with embarrasment.

              This sort of fiddling with CSS is really not needed. There are far more important things that need fixing.

              Fiddling while Rome burns.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: "Get used to the modern"

          What you do in that case is have a *new* API that takes the parameters the "correct" way.

          setcolour(int a) // do not use in new code, translates to a call to rgb()

          setrgb(long r,g,b) // new API

        3. quxinot

          Re: "Get used to the modern"

          >That's why they're changing this. It was the equivalent of a car with imperial sized lug nuts when every other fastener was metric.<

          This may not be the best place for that particular analogy. At least one of my cars needed a 19mm socket to remove the lug nuts--which is wholly interchangable with 3/4" for that application.

          Nevermind things like the tires having a nominal width measured in mm and being fit to wheels measured in inches.

          1. Ogi

            Re: "Get used to the modern"

            It was not uncommon in older British cars to have a mixture of metric and imperial, especially for designs that have their roots in the time before metrification of the UK.

            Case in point, the Jaguar V12 engine, which had a mixture of imperial and metric threads, as the engine was originally imperial, and with time newer bits added to it were metric.

            Then some cars had imperial sized heads on their bolts, so garages could use the tools they already had, but metric sized threads. So unless you knew in advance (or checked each bolt), you could not assume that an imperial headed bolt/screw was actually imperial threaded as well.

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: "Get used to the modern"

              It was not uncommon in older British cars to have a mixture of metric and imperial, especially for designs that have their roots in the time before metrification of the UK.

              Some things still do: the Canadian-built Can-Am Spyder 3-wheelers, which use a mixture of American-built and Canadian-built parts.

              And drive me crazy every time I work on it. If I would have known this before purchase, I may have second-guessed that decision.

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge

                Re: "Get used to the modern"

                I've had a couple of Ford cars (though my Mustang is 20 years old now) with both metric AND imperial sized bolts/nuts on it. Depending on what system you work on, you grab the appropriate sized tool and pretty much everything on THAT system will be of the same standard. But yeah, brake system metric, engine imperial - kinda like that. Have both sets of tools handy. Not that expensive, though.

                I'd expect even MORE metric stuff on newer American cars. But, as mentioned before, not ALL...

                1. phuzz Silver badge

                  Re: "Get used to the modern"

                  In the UK a typical socket set will come with half imperial, half metric, tools. Similarly, tape measures and rulers have inches down one side, cm down the other.

                  1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                    Re: "Get used to the modern"

                    Aren't disk drive mounting screws something similar? I remember it took me ages to track down the right size.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: "Get used to the modern"

            As I recall, 13mm is 9/16" - comes in handy sometimes. I haven't done mechanic work in some time, though. Decided a while back that getting greasy and knucklebusters for 8 hours was worth 3 or 4 times the cost of 'my time' than the local specialty auto place for 'whatever repair' getting the thing done while I lazily wander around the local Walmart or Target... or in some cases, get a free ride back home, do work for money, then they pick me up when its done and I drive home.

            Doing a project car for fun would be different, but maintaining "transportation car" not so much...

            (still have a pretty good set of tools, though, imperial AND metric, not being used)

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Get used to the modern"

          So the needs of one command exceeds the needs of the many?

          Spock would turn in his grave....

        5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: "Get used to the modern"

          the equivalent of a car with imperial sized lug nuts when every other fastener was metric.

          To attach the wheels with their 255/45R17 tyres?

    2. Erix

      Indeed, what they really should have been doing is getting rid of unnecessary Tab

    3. Spamfast

      Really addressing the big problems there.

      Well, that gave me a chuckle, Bob. Ta.

      I always fall back on the classics in these circumstances.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Seriously WTF is wrong with web development these days that they come out with shite like this?

    1. EmilPer.

      Re: WTF


    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      It's Chrome, they do it because they can.

    3. Mage

      Re: WTF

      Yes, it's stupid. It's natural and readable to separate parameters with commas.

      Is someone at Google a bully?

      1. AVee

        Re: WTF


      2. DJV Silver badge

        Is someone at Google a bully?

        I thought it was a job requirement.

      3. swm

        Re: WTF

        "It's natural and readable to separate parameters with commas."

        And then there is LISP

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: WTF

          A bad programmer always blames the language.

          1. Glen 1

            Re: WTF

            While a poor artist blames their tools. A mediocre artist can tell the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver.

    4. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      They know it's BS - that's why they've branded it as Modern. Like MS and Windows 8. Implies that those against it are regressive and resistant to change.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: WTF

        Yes - too many *HORRIBLE* things considered to be "Modern"

        1. Rol

          Re: WTF

          I more often find modern to mean we have found a cheaper way to do something, that most end users would hardly notice was a downgrade to the quality, that society, over the past few millennia, had gotten accustomed to.

          (I was going to replace the commas with spaces, but that would be too silly for words)

          1. Ogi

            Re: WTF

            Yeah, its funny how "newer" has come to mean "worse than before".

            Once upon a time newer was considered better, I used to look forward to software upgrades, because useful features would be added, bugs would be fixed and performance would be improved.

            Nowadays upgrades usually mean worse performance/more bloat, more lockdown, more spying, more "monetization" of every nook and cranny they can find, more "online only" subscriptions they want me to have, and usually a different set of bugs introduced.

            Indeed for some software I go out of my way to avoid upgrading as long as possible, and I am obviously in the majority, as it is a big enough problem that some of them have started doing forced upgrades (where there is no technical reason you can't use the old version anymore, they just block you until you upgrade because they can).

            Even outside of software, newer tends to mean "more flimsy" and "more cheaply built" for the same price, or more. Sometimes when (after many years of using an item) it comes to replace it, the same item is more expensive, yet more cheaply built, and fails faster than the old one. Only good thing is that physical manufacturers have not found a way to force me to use newer items, so there is a thriving second hand market in them.

            1. Cave-Homme

              Re: WTF

              Spot on!

        2. P. Lee

          Re: WTF

          Is it like "hearing the notes which aren't there" in jazz?

          You have to see the commas which aren't there?

          Coming soon - double quotes used to surround parameter names in case they have a space in them...

      2. P. Lee

        Re: WTF

        Maybe they are planning a post-modern language, where syntax is just social construct and each interpreter brings its own meaning to the code.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: WTF

          Replace spaces with tabs in this case in order to increase distancing.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: WTF

          *urp* - my keyboard! that mental image caused me digestive distress...

          (what's up? My LUNCH, THAT's what's UP!)

    5. Bruce Ordway

      Re: WTF

      >>commas versus spaces

      I'm not a fan of syntax change but I'll survive.

      >>We have no access to one third of the colors in most modern monitors.

      But....I'm not sure why I care about this?

      1. eionmac

        Re: WTF

        Can humans in ordinary speech define these colours?

        Can humans eyes detect these colours as discrete unique colours ?

        We have enough problems with humans not agreeing on 'blue' / 'green'.

        Is it of any use to humans viewing a screen?

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: WTF

          As someone who is very colour-blind and also knowing how bad the colour calibration is on different monitors I can’t see why they need to be able to address so many colours.

          Mind you there is probably some designer out there who wants to move one colour register by a tenth of a percent to make it true to their ideal, although you would have thought using Pantone colours would be best as they can be the same no matter what you want to present to (screen, print etc)

          1. John Crisp

            Re: WTF

            Not quite so.

            I am no guru on this but know enough to be dangerous.

            It all depends on your gamut.

            We frequently struggle to explain to customers that what they see on their screen is not necessarily what they will see when it is printed.

            Pantones were designed for printing and never designed for screens. They would make an awful screen reference as they cover nowhere near what a screen is capable of reproducing. (And they are copyrighted by Abobe as well.....)

            There are plenty of colours that won't reproduce accurately in one medium or the other... notably greens I think.

            For those fortunate enough to have good eyesight, surprising small changes in colour can make a big difference.

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: Pantones

              @John Crisp

              But that, making CSS compatible with wide gamut, in no way solves your stated problem. Color reproduction accuracy is in absolutely no way guaranteed, just because your customer's monitor is wide gamut and your new, shiny web site has the new CSS implemented. Breadth of ability in no way, shape or form linked to the accuracy of said ability; only if the monitor has color calibration, used frequently with an accurate sensor and software, can you believe in decent color reproduction accuracy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WTF

          I'm only interested in the skin tones anyway!

          Not a programmer or a web designer, but how difficult is it to set the API to accept commas or spaces?

          I bet he demands that pineapple be banned from pizza...

      2. rtharrison

        Re: WTF

        > >>We have no access to one third of the colors in most modern monitors.

        > But....I'm not sure why I care about this?

        We can visualise all the Unicorn vomit with this new format.

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: WTF

        You will care about them, passionately, the minute your rivals start using them in ways you can't.

    6. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      "WTF is wrong with web development"

      THAT is a VERY long list...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF

        Web development and IOT are the playgrounds of the millennial. AI is their chosen multi-tool.

        I steer clear from all those areas. Keeps me sane.

    7. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      Alas, its not just web development. Language development has similar traits.

      What's wrong is a lack of education about how things work combined with a sort of "Not Invented Here" arrogance. A typical example that I had to deal with was some clever buggers who invented a scripting language to go inside an embedded system. I casually ask them about the syntax of this language (as in "BNF.1?" but I didn't mention it by name for fear of sounding a bit old fashioned) and was told effectively "We don't need no steenkin' syntax" or words to that effect. The result was "a tad messy" and took forever to develop and test, by hey, these guys are geniuses so what do I know?

      I've had the same problem with other clever types in Marketing who seem to be paid to come up with new model designations for products. I ask them, plead with them, implore them even, to make their model designations Regular Expression friendly to no avail. (Trying to explain regular expressions....oh, forget it....)

      I put it all down to teaching people how to code without teaching them how to program. I also have had a pet theory for many years now that suggests that the reason why programmers do a lot of weird things is down to the simple fact they can't type. (A lot of keyboards -- especially laptops -- aren't designed to be that convenient to type on -- and yet you see generations of developers wedded to the damn things.)

    8. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      Don't worry, anything that is wrong with web development will be fixed by the next flavour-of-the-month web framework.

  7. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    What's wrong

    with 256 colours like God and Tim Berners-Lee intended?

    1. monty75

      Re: What's wrong

      216 web safe colours, thank you very much.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong

      256 colors - nothing that dithering can't fix (at the cost of a little bit of blur).

      But the cones in your eyes aren't as dense as the rods, so as long as the color is approximately correct, and the brightness _IS_ correct, it'll look JUST FINE!

      Squint a bit - there ya go!

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: What's wrong

        Bah! Men can only see 16 colours, this the EGA palette

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: What's wrong

        They are in the fovea. In fact, you don't HAVE rods in your fovea. Or at least, you shouldn't.

  8. Totally not a Cylon

    What's wrong with CGA?

    Why does a website need any more colours than the CGA standard?

    it even has 2 sets of colours for more choice....

    Nobody needs more than 4 colours on a page!

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with CGA?

      Nobody needs more than 4 colours on a page!

      What are the extra 2 colors for?

      1. Totally not a Cylon

        Re: What's wrong with CGA?

        There's always 8514/a,

        nice & simple; would you like green or orange?

        1. Vometia Munro Silver badge

          Re: What's wrong with CGA?

          Ugh, now I have memories of the 6847. Those memories may be nearly 40 years old but remembering the slightly muddier green or orange in place of black and all that aliasing still gives me a headache. And white that was definitely not the "bluey whiteness" that Bold advertised but some sort of mush they had to describe as "buff".

          And also the regional spellings. If the BBC Micro could find room for both COLOUR and COLOR... but all things considered, I think that's the least of our problems.

          The part of me that was occasionally required to wrestle with MVS (yeah I know, I have no grounds for complaint due to being the then new girl who knew Unix and was therefore highly suspect) thinks other people should share the joy and maybe CSS would be much more functional if it shared JCL's syntax. I suppose JCL was at least its own sort of consistent.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's wrong with CGA?

          I'll stick with HAM mode for the loading screens, and extra halfbrite for the sprites thanks.

  9. myhandler


    Custard yellow to express my excitement.

  10. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Can it do orange?

    The RGB colour scheme cannot do a vivid orange, unlike the human eye. Can this new scheme do it?

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Can it do orange?

      Interesting that you should mention that. I'm looking at the "Interactive Wide-Gamut Comparisons" page that El Reg linked to, and the only picture where I can detect any difference with my old screen on my old Lenovo is the sunset one, where the orange is notably more vivid.

      All the other pictures look the same, but then again I am using an laptop that dates from around 2011.

      1. Mark 65

        Re: Can it do orange?

        This does all seem rather pointless. I can see the difference in every picture, but that's because I'm using an Eizo monitor that is designed to do so. Most people won't be able to. Most also won't give a shit.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Can it do orange?

      I remember having fights with the design dept when I was in charge of accessibility over colour choices. It usually took a ten minute walk around various PCs in the building to show them that on most of the monitors no-one could see the difference they were asking for and if that didnt work a twenty minute calibration of their monitor to make it show the colours its was meant to show made their new visually stunning development go away.

      I guess we have moved on from the font wars where people expected a particular font to have some meaning that 6.5G people knew fuck all about and are moving to colour wars where only three people in an office in Chelsea who bought their badly calibrated monitors from the same batch at the same time can see some visual difference only when they've all had 6 cups of badger shit coffee in the early afternoon ennui from their vegan beef stew lunch while listening to Enya through Dr Dres.

      1. Glen 1

        Re: Can it do orange?

        " only three people in an office in Chelsea "

        If one of those 3 is the one signing the cheques for the client...

        See also: pixel perfect layout demands on a 8k+ monitor.... The only one in the company, but it's the bosses.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can it do orange?

          I do pixel perfect, but only cos it's quick and fast for me to.

          I don't expect others to notice or care. But I *do* expect them to not put standard video content in widescreen... or video landscape only (unless portrait absolutely must be used or fits the subject matter).

          When they ask why? "It does not matter, I don't care!!!" I ask them if they'd like me to work at Mcdonalds and serve them. Suddenly the little details "matter". :P

  11. Blackjack Silver badge


    Is way harder to find if you missed a space than finding that you missed a comma.

  12. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    So how do "modern monitors" do it?

    My understanding is that monitors can normally only represent a triangle in the horseshoe of the full color gamut, because they only have subpixels of three different colors (usually red, green and blue), and that by mixing them you can only represent the convex hull of these three colors (therefore triangle). You can choose colors that are as far apart as possible and as pure as possible, but you cannot represent the full gamut because you cannot have a subpixel in a color that does not exist outside of the horseshoe gamut (you'd need to find a way to activate only certain photoreceptor cones and not others, even though they normally both react to a different degree to the same lightwaves).

    So how is it possible for "modern monitors" to display more colors? Are they using four subpixels?

    1. a__d

      Re: So how do "modern monitors" do it?

      That would be an effective way to achieve the goal. For printed color, hexachrome added green and orange to the traditional cyan, magenta, yellow and black (kroma), in order to increase the possible gamut.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So how do "modern monitors" do it?

        Hexachrome is dead, but FOGRA55 is a current standard that uses 6-inks. The CSS color() function mentioned in the article adds support for these larger gamut spaces.

    2. cdrcat

      Re: So how do "modern monitors" do it?

      Say you have white (255,255,255). Now you want a red as bright as that white, maybe that should be represented as (765,0,0).

      Or maybe you want to have 10 bit colours, so you can choose between (1023,1023,1023) or (255.75,255.75,255.75) as representations that allow ten bits per channel to be declared.

      It’s all completely insane of course, since the page would have to say what colour space it was using, the gamma, and what representation it was using. Otherwise a browser couldn’t map the wide-gamut or 10-bit colours when someone used a normal 24 bit colour monitor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So how do "modern monitors" do it?

        That's exactly the point of the recent changes. sRGB has a very limited gamut - it's a lowest common denominator colorspace, but what you get when you specify #FF0000 or use the rgb() function, which are defined as using the sRGB colorspace.

        The new functions allow you to choose wider gamut spaces, which will be handed off to the system color management engine for rendering. It's not really a question of brightness - display-p3 for example, supported on iPhone displays, uses the same D65 whitepoint as sRGB - but it's more to do with extending the range in certain directions. You'll be able to make an orange, drawn in SVG with gradients, just a bit more orange.

        Once you get into the details of colour management it's horrendously complex.

  13. Peter Prof Fox


    How I love the smell of purity in the morning.

    Diddums! Hard for likkle machiney to read beastly syntax for those tewwible humans.

  14. The Count Is Dead

    You just had to go with...

    The Boy George pun didn't you? Now I'm gonna have that song stuck in my head all day.

    Damn you to hell!

  15. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Does the new standard support squant or fuligin? If not, spec is worthless.

    Mine's the one that's darker than black, thanks.

  16. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    What about the minus?

    At least you can use the minus in file names, something that some second-rate programming languages won't let you do. (I'm looking at you, python.)

    [BTW, before someone complains, I know CSS is not a programming language.]

  17. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Is he going to do away with Pi next?

    There was a reason for the original decision. Understand that, and explain why the logic no longer applies, and THEN I'll consider that you might be something other than an ***.

  18. cosymart


    I am waiting for colour and Roman numerals, bah humbug!

  19. IceC0ld

    T - omorrow


    T - hink

    S - emi colon's

    U - ser

    P - reference

  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Sounds unnecessary to me

    Sounds unnecessary to me.

    I mean, I don't care if these use commas or spaces -- I agree with the commenters that say the comma version is more readable, but don't really care. But, WHAT ACTUAL REASON is there to require the space-based syntax and not just accept both? I haven't seen any reason given other than "this guy prefers you use spaces".

    I also haven't seen any reason for having a high-gamut display either, but *shrug* OK that's fine.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sounds unnecessary to me

      "a high-gamut display"

      ..can be good if you are a graphic designer or avid photographer etc. A good CRT screen properly set up had a much wider colour gamut than the LCD screens that came along to replace them. That was of interest to me back then when the LCD transition was happening, but is not now so I don't know what the claimed "high gamut LCD/OLED/whatever" are capable of these days or, indeed, if they come even close to a good quality, properly set up and calibrated CRT screen could do years ago.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Sounds unnecessary to me

        CRT physically cannot have a wider gamut than OLED, because it has no true black. Modern displays are constrained by a colourspace that was designed when black didn't technically exist in display technologies, and when the memory available to represent a colour was far more limited than it is now.

        I'll let Tom Scott explain one of the issues this causes.

        OLED can physically display more colours, but obviously it only displays what it's told to display.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Sounds unnecessary to me

      The spec DOES accept both.

      You can use just commas, or commas surrounded by spaces. And now, if you want, you can also just use spaces.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Collapsing whitespace! That's passing one parameter with the value 0128192.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even better - convert to binary and strip out the unnecessary zeros (since they don't impart any actual data), then write an ever newer API that doesn't use zeros anywhere, only ones.

  22. tekHedd

    "optional and reorderable"

    The parts of CSS I find hardest to do on the fly, without yet another trip to StackOverflow are the "optional and reorderable" parts. So, of course, let's add more.

    I remember when I was junior and there were things like "language designers" and books on the theory of good user interface design and coding style, and they weren't trendy. Now even the Microsoft IDE is rejecting Microsoft's own best practices. :(

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: "optional and reorderable"

      I remember when left-clicking once on an edit box that didn't have the focus just focused it and moved the cursor. Double clicking selected all the text. These days single clicking selects everything and you have to click again to position the cursor where you want it.

      And all these flat buttons - often without any indication of whether they are enabled or not.

      And a lot of UI 'designers' apparently have no knowledge of what an accelerator key is nor what an accept or cancel key is.

      The original rules made sense. Then arty-farty types decided they wanted to 'differentiate' their product and that it would be 'cool' to look different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "optional and reorderable"

        Due to a problem with a modern smart phone, I temporarily had to use my old Apple iPhone (3G?) Them icons are soooo coooool with all the detail and colors!

  23. chuBb.

    Effing pointless

    Bet it has more to do with the shitty mac book keyboards breaking than any real problem. Because as soon as the page has loaded any color changes to it will be javascript based and so use commas to separate the arg list of the function anyway.

    Never been happier to have ditched frontend for interesting backend stuff 8 years ago just as html5 sorta fell over the line, aftrr I have had to suffer the indignity of having to make a ui the other day, amazingly they made css worse, well done guys have a no hand clap from me.

  24. Nick Stallman


    Why do I get the sense this is all so we can be blinded by HDR ads?

  25. Frumious Bandersnatch

    I propose a hyphen-less rendering of "comma-less"

    but then, I'd probably, logically, have to propose a hyphenless rendering of "hyphen-less"

    You know it makes sense.

    (You want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes? Well, you might want to take these Class C drugs. They come in red and blue ... but also purple!)

  26. Tom 7 Silver badge

    It will be compulsory to buy monitors that can

    display Octarine to do web development soon.

  27. Rol

    Thoroughly modern malfeance

    "What are you doing? Are you some kind of Nazi?"

    "I'm burning out of date books"

    "Out of date! Some of those tombs are ancient texts. They're irreplaceable"

    "Yeah, but they use outdated syntax which our modern systems no longer support"

    "But all that history will be lost forever"

    "No it won't, we have re-codified them into modern versions"

    "In other words, you're rewriting history"

    "No we are re-interpreting them using our advanced knowledge to conform with accepted standards"

    "And when new knowledge comes along, that would better understand what has gone before, there will be no before left to better understand. In computing terms you are deleting a source code that cannot properly be rebuilt by decompiling what's in current memory"

    "Hold on a minute. What has this got to do with commas and spaces in colour code?"

    "You do realise the old colour syntax will eventually be dropped by the dominant browser overlord, and billions of web pages stretching back to the beginning of the internet will get borked for future generations, unless of course our kindly internet overlord reinterprets them for us, with the obvious potential to rewrite history, and perhaps now charge a small fee for what was once freely accessible"

    "Why would they do that?"

    "Because they can. And there's nothing to be made out of freely available history, until you fence it in and put a turnstile on it. Just you wait, the colour palette is only the start. Bigger and more destructive changes will be on their way, forcing every webpage to be rewritten or become totally inaccessible"

    "You know. I never thought of it like that. I'll stop burning these books immediately"

    "Not just yet. I see you're clutching Donald Trump's biography, Fuck 'em 'till they're Dead"


    "You can throw that on the fire, and then, call it a day"

  28. Joe Gurman

    Modern Web design

    Does this even matter, when 95% of sites designed since 2010 or so use grey text on a slightly lighter grey background, or perhaps a beige one?

  29. volsano

    Google it!

    Maybe the mighty Googlers should try googling "backward compatibility" before requesting the whole world join their borg cube.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google it!

      I would make a joke about Bing'ing "compatibility", but microsoft threatened a patent lawsuit if I didn't buy a license for their invention of a scenario involving an electronic system that does not work properly.

  30. adnim

    I like semi colons

    it looks like I am having a shit ; from an empty stomach

  31. Glen 1

    If you're going to get rid of the commas, you should get rid of the brackets as well. ala Ruby.

    Its the same sort of (flawed) logic.

    1. chuBb.

      Why stop at brackets, let's make it case sensitive and un parse able if you use a tab instead 4 spaces, or a non power of 2 number of spaces, and for shits and giggles get rid of typewriter/teletyper hangovers, carriage return linebreak fuck it add new char called enter, ohh and get rid of ems as well because why should a monospaced capital M be a measuring unit

      (Im only half serious with half of these points, only half expect half of the people who would get the joke would)

      1. keith_w

        I half got the joke

      2. Glen 1

        I believe that's called python3 :P

  32. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Are the tab V spaces wars over?

    That's the only explanation for this being the new essential thing to fight over.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish I knew what you lot were talking about.

    1. Glen 1

      It's like nightmare on em street.

      You think you want to know, but then you wish you didn't, as you start having nightmares.

  34. Robert Grant Silver badge


    I hear now they're replacing all spaces with tabs. But all IDE linters are being forced to make the tabs one space in width.

    To be modern.

  35. Totally not a Cylon

    Makes me wonder

    How does LISP handle colo(u)r?

    (Never had to use it, but know what it's called....)

  36. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Screw you

    I'm making my comma five spaces wide.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    As you were

    As you were, friends. If Google doesn't like it they can get in touch. They've got all our phone numbers anyway.

  38. Denarius

    history reruns

    OK, back to VT340 and curses libraries. Simple, light and no Fush.

  39. poohbear

    More than enough

    Didn't someone once say "16.7 million colours ought to be more than enough for anyone" ?

  40. Spamfast

    Can't we just go back to OSF/Motif on greyscale monitors and be done with all this?

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    View from the inside

    Ha, marvellous. As it happens I'm rather close to this.

    First, commas have been optional in RGB and HSL for years. They're not needed for parsing - add them, or don't - it's personal preference. But given the following 5 ways to specify black with 50% opacity, personally I find the ones with commas the least useful.

    rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5)

    rgb(0, 0, 0, 0.5)

    rgb(0 0 0 / 0.5)



    Commas aren't allowed in the newer color functions like "lab", "lch" and "color" - they only add visual clutter in my opinion. But if you're the kind of person that struggles with short sequences of numbers without commas, yet are still convinced a career in IT is for you, try adding some more whitespace. You can even put the arguments on their own lines.

    Meanwhile, do yourself a favour and take a look at the CSS color functions. Here's a great Lch color picker (from Lea, as it happens): - and this one from some of the people at Adobe, which I really like, focusing on the creation of entire color themes that meet contrast requirements for accessibility: Other exciting (for me at least) things in the pipeline are ICC-based and high-gamut display colors.

    Greetings from a very long time commenter, anonymous today as also a member of the CSS working group.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: View from the inside

      they only add visual clutter in my opinion

      But did you forget about what happens when you stick a couple if calc()s in the parameter list and there's no commas to separate them?

      Because if you did forget that would be... unfortunate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: View from the inside

      Hmm. Mocks those of opposing viewpoints as lessers, then discloses excitement at "high-gamut display colors."

      You DO realize the world outside of your Mother's basement can read the tripe you just typed, don't you?

      Or perhaps you just work for Mozilla.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: View from the inside

        No I didn't forget about calc() - a function which also doesn't have commas between arguments, as it happens.

        You've managed to use four numbers - including calc expressions - without commas for 25 years with the "border" property. Now someone comes along and offers you the chance to use three numbers in rgb() without commas, and you scream murder on the grounds of legibility?

        Really what you're complaining about is change for change sake- this is a red-top publication, after all. But it's not even change. Your commas are still valid, and I predict it's going to stay that way until the heat death of the universe. Your geocitiies page from 25 years ago is as valid today as it was then. All that's new is you have the option of not using them.

        1. Glen 1

          Re: View from the inside

          "Your commas are still valid, and I predict it's going to stay that way until the heat death of the universe."

          from TFA:

          "lab(), lch(), and color(), don't work with commas"

          Sooo not valid.

          I'm don't do a lot of front end work, but...

          IMHO, you shouldn't be calling *functions* in static markup. Helper macros are *maybe* OK, but Its like putting code in a config file.

          If you *are* going to call functions/macros in your CSS, they should be consistent with the overwhelmingly de facto language used on the front end. The one that is going to be used to manipulate the markup once it's in the DOM.

          Otherwise its inconsistency for inconsistency's sake.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: View from the inside

            They're still valid in rgb() and hsl() - that's what everyone seems to be complaining about, that "you can rip my commas from my cold dead hands". The functions you list aren't supported in any browser yet, so there's no compatibility issue. And I think you've misunderstood the use of the term "function" in CSS, it simply means anything of the form "NNN(...)", such as "calc(5em + 10px)" or "attr(href url)", or selectors like "nth-child(2n+1)" . Notice any commas? There is no hard and fast rule one way or the other.

            There are billions of active users of CSS. Nothing is going to get broken - 20-year old syntax will remain valid. But going forward there's a desire to standardise, and if you're going to do that, you've got to pick one form or the other. With the standardised way of including a slash then alpha value at the end, the comma just looks... well, weird. "color(swop 1 0.2 0 0 / 0.5)" vs "color(swop 1, 0.2, 0, 0 / 0.5)".

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It starts off all innocent...

    ...and next thing you know it’s `(rgb 0 128 255)`

    A slippery slope I tell you!

  44. TeeCee Gold badge

    One Million Years From Now...

    Young Web developer bollocked for using deprecated commas in CSS.

    ('cos Rule One of anything that doesn't want to be dropped like a warm and steaming dog turd is; "Never Break Back-Compatibility".)

  45. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Tab vs. tabs

    Tab Atkins Jr, a developer on the Google Chrome team

    The ironic part about all of this is that as a millennial n00b ... Tab probably uses spaces.

  46. John70

    Broken Web

    It's not like web browser developers follow the standards to the letter now is it?

    Try the Acid3 test:

    On my machine the browsers scored:

    Firefox 95/100

    Chrome 95/100

    Edge 98/100 <-- Yes, Edge performed better than Firefox and Chrome. Go figure...

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Broken Web

      ACID3 was well intentioned, but doesn't reflect the standards. Have a google.

  47. thosrtanner

    > Why? Upcoming new features such as lab(), lch(), and color() use the same syntax (and don’t work with commas).

    Well they bloody should support commas then

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Exactly what I was thinking - it wasn't broken, so why do we need a new standard? Surely only a loony would believe that comma separated values apparently can only handle three items, no more, no less, and are incapable of going past 255 it would seem.

      I thought the idea of CSS and high level languages was to make it easier for humans to do this stuff, not harder. It appears I was wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Incapable of going past 255 - ironic for someone that can't manage to use Unicode properly in their username.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    J Butler and ilk

    Wait until the PC and gender benders like judith butler get a hold of this and totally mangle things up like they did to the English language... you ain't seen nuthin yet

  49. Chris Beach

    So from reading this and the various tweets, there is no valid reason why the new functions couldn't have supported comma's, and its just the function authors being dicks.

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