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Color Laboratory Requirements

It pains me to write this page. One of the driving ideas behind the web is universal accessibility. While the color laboratory enables others to create more accessible content, this tool is not itself as accessible as I would wish. Some requirements may prevent access by users who are in our primary target audience. I apologize for those requirements, but found the current implementation to be the best compromise between conflicting pressures. Some of those pressures include a desire to have a speedy and responsive user interface, my limited experience with javascript, and a desire to provide as useful a tool as possible to as many users as possible given the amount of free time I have available for this project.

Software Requirements

The color laboratory has been tested on Mac OS and Windows versions of Mozilla (v. 0.9.2), Netscape Navigator (v. 4.7.7), Internet Explorer (v. 5 Mac; v. 5.5 Win), and Opera (v. 5.0b1.305 Mac; 5.12 Win). Additionally, we tested with the Mac-only web browser iCab (v. 2.5.2). Opera had enough serious bugs that the tool could not work around them without moving to a primarily server-side implementation (which would dramatically reduce responsiveness). Mozilla had only one minor rendering bug, which did not diminish usability at all. Navigator, Internet Explorer, and iCab exhibited no bugs. I personally prefer to use Mozilla, as I find that it calculates and renders very quickly.

Should you wish to use another web browser, the color laboratory requires support for javascript/ecmascript, frames, and client-side image maps, as well as support for HTML tables. Please email me at with any feedback regarding your experiences with this tool in any browser brand, version, or platform not listed above. Also email me if you can suggest workarounds to browser bugs or fixes to any bugs in my code.

Hardware Requirements

Use of this tool involves some messy math (for the color simulation), and quite a bit of table-within-table rendering (for the swatches). Faster computers will obviously perform these operations quicker. To reduce the number of calculations, simulated colors are cached with each color swatch so that they don't need to be re-calculated when you return to a previously-calculated simulation. This trades RAM for speed. I have yet to encounter a problem with this trade, but those in tight RAM situations might run into trouble. I've found the tool to be usable on a 200MHz machine, but I generally prefer to run it on my usual desktop which runs at 500MHz. Your milage may vary.

If your monitor is only set to display 256 colors, then you will very certainly see distorted color output. In order to render the variations in color, your monitor must be set to at least 'thousands of colors' (16-bit color). A very small minority of color differences can only be disambiguated under 'millions of colors' (and on a high quality monitor, viewed by a user without significant vision deficits). These few cases concern the simulation different gamma levels, when the change in gamma is slight. In most cases, 'thousands of colors' will be perfectly fine.

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