Color management support added to Firefox 3

The latest Firefox 3 alpha has added support for color management, a standard technique defined by the International Color Consortium to ensure consistent color presentation for images no matter they are displayed on paper, a CRT screen, an LCD, fabric, etc.

The ICC offers an ICC2 and ICC4 standards compatibility test and I ran it with Firefox 2 (to the left) and Firefox 3 Alpha 7. You can see the results below.

Firefox 2, ICC testFirefox 3, ICC test

While image color improvement will not be as dramatic as these test image could suggest there will certainly be an difference. For example, when you take a picture with your digital camera (specially in RAW format), it not only saves information about the colors but also the amount of light available, distance and other factors that may affect how an image is perceived. This details are stored in a color profile which as of Firefox 2 is just ignored.

In Firefox 3 Alpha 7, these profiles are used to tune the image to your display to better reproduce the original scene, a must for amateur and professional photographers, clothing and fabric related e-stores, paint, food, and mostly everywhere a true representation of color is important.

Color management is turned off by default to prevent subtle color variations affecting the overall look of web sites. To enable it you must set gfx.color_management.enabled to true (via about:config) and restart Firefox.

Source: Mike Beltzner’s blog.

22 thoughts on “Color management support added to Firefox 3”

  1. Is there any way for web sites developpers to force the use of the color management feature when it is needed – ie. a photo website – via javascript or anything else?

  2. Unfortunately this is only half the problem, proper profiling and a color aware browser is a good first step, but it doesn’t help if the party viewing an image has a horribly calibrated monitor. That aside I’m happy to have it for my use!

  3. It may have been supported in the Alpha 7, but doesn’t seem to be supported ont he final version of FF 3.0. I get the first image instead of the expected result on FF 3.0 final.

  4. Just coming across this as I was noticing that FF3 still doesn’t support color management, which I thought it should have. Well, as the last paragraph states, you specifically have to turn it on! How pointless is that?!?

    Let’s ask ourselves, who the heck cares about color profiles? Obviously only the professionals that care about their images looking right to as many people as possible. But is the average John Doe going to know what a color profile is or would he even care? All he wants to see is an image and that better looks right! The average user is NEVER even gonna come up with the idea that the image could look better if he had something like a color profile capable display tool. It’s even unlikelier than NEVER that this user is gonna look for some geeky config code to turn it on!

    This is just the most pointless feature of FF3! If this is not turned on by default, it will NEVER EVER be used by the average user! Or do you expect that the professionals only show their work to other professionals that understand color profiles? No!!! – I can’t believe it, I’m so frustrated right now… Finally I thought things would start to look better when FF3 finally supports it (IE sometime with version 8 or 9 maybe) but no, it’s like not supporting it at all!

    “Color management is turned off by default to prevent subtle color variations affecting the overall look of web sites.” Really? Ever designed a website? As probably most professionals use Photoshop (which supports color profiles) to design sites, a website “would” look EXACTLY the same if opened in a browser that supports color profiles. Well, in FF & IE not so much!

    The most basic thing a browser needs to do, is; display information! How about displaying the information CORRECTLY? (without the user having to configure anything!) Back to work, Mozilla… Take some hints from Apple’s Safari.

    1. EDL, who care’s ? anyone that is doing photography! They may not be “average”, but if we are smart enough to operate a DSLR in manual and use photoshop, I think we’re smart enough to turn on the feature
      While it’s true the John Doe can’t tell the difference between a sepia and a black and white, some of us can. I do agree that (if this is what you’re ranting about) FF should have had it to default to ON rather than off. But then it sounds like you’re arguing, who has calibrated monitors to begin with? That’s a sad argument actually, just as most don’t understand sRGB and RGB differences (like web creators)!

      1. Who cares? As I already mentioned above, the professionals care about color profiles. It has to look right to the end user, without them having to care about anything. And end user doesn’t just mean John Doe who has no clue about anything, this can also be media buyers, art directors, producers, etc… they all may not understand and care about color profiles, but they understand whether something looks right or not. All they do is make decisions upon appearances, they do not want to care about anything technical. They have their people to care about the technical aspect of things. Honestly though, most of those “technical” people (aka designers that are supposed to understand the software and it’s workflow) understand that there is something like a color profile in Photoshop but that it could be used anywhere else, they are completely unaware of.

        Color profiling does not only pertain to photography, it’s important for (web) design as well. If you find yourself adding adjustment layers to comps in Photoshop, exporting 100x until you finally match somewhat the same tone in the browser as well, then you will understand why “dumb” browsers should be a thing of the past.

        Whether one has a calibrated monitor is a whole other story… belonging to other (yet) uncontrollable factors like display specs, quality, lifetime, viewing environment, etc. Since there is at least one factor that can be controlled in the color consistency chain to provide better viewing experiences and workflows, then why would you omit it? Again, I do not understand why would you build in a new feature and not turn it on by default?? I repeat, NO ONE will turn it on (apart from the few that specifically search for the reason why FF3 is displaying it wrong and they specifically know that it supposed to be right in FF3). Hence, the feature just simply doesn’t exist.

        But I give you that, why am I ranting about? As long as Flash doesn’t know how to handle color profiles, it may be as well FF4 until this is turned on by default…

  5. ive been useing firefox for over 2 years and i find that its getting slower :(.. and alot of errors and firefox failing to close and so on .. i’, tempted to look at safari

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