This is certainly a “low priority” task, but sometimes my brain gets burned out on the high priority stuff, and I want to just have a bit of fun, while still improving the product. (And, the details do matter.)
When I designed the basic CSS for ICS Calendar, I very deliberately chose absolutely neutral colors for everything. I knew the plugin would be used on a wide range of sites with different designs, and I assumed, especially before the plugin really started to take off, that anyone who was using it would just code in their own colors to override mine, if they wanted.
Eventually, when it came time to start adding “premium” features for ICS Calendar Pro, I decided to leverage the Customizer (ah, the poor, doomed Customizer — I still think it’s a better way to let people modify their sites than Full Site Editing, but that’s a topic for another post) with some options to modify the color palette, fonts, and a few other general parameters.
ICS Calendar Pro’s Customizer tools allow admins to set specific colors — any color they like! — for several elements of the calendar layout, but it also includes a set of color palettes that will handle all of the details for you.
The color palettes all have one or two main colors, but I decided to give them whimsical names based on the time of day. So you have “sunrise” (yellows and oranges), “midday” (blues), “sunset” (reds) and “midnight” (kind of a purple-heavy “dark mode”). Later I decided to add four more palettes with whimsical names, this time based on the four seasons, so you have “spring” (greens), “summer” (pinks and purples), “autumn” (browns), and “winter” (cool grays).
But there is one specific thing that all of these color palettes have in common, and it’s something I’ve regretted committing to almost since I started: they all use CSS named colors, not hex or RGB values.
Partly this was a matter of expedience. I could spend endless days refining color palettes if I allowed myself to use any of the 16 million shades available in the realm of 8-bit color codes. (Not to mention transparency!) So instead I limited myself arbitrarily to the 140 named colors.
And, oh, are they arbitrary!
A few of the color palettes ended up working out pretty well… I am particularly fond of sunrise, summer and winter. But the others have some weird outlying colors that don’t blend well with the others, mainly because there just aren’t enough good named variants of blue, for instance.
As odd as the selection of available hues may be, their given names are even weirder. Needless to say the names are all in English, creating barriers for non-English speakers or even English speakers who don’t fit the demographic of the small group of people who originally came up with most of the names, in some cases decades ago. (The history of how the color names came to be is interesting.)
I think, without a doubt, the best example of how much the naming process went awry is the fact that there are two colors named
gray. Guess which one is darker. Of course, they needed a dark gray that was, you know, actually darker than the regular gray, so they came up with… uh…