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JMP 7 Colors

During the development of JMP 7, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about color. At one extreme are the physicists studying optics and at another extreme are the biologists exploring color receptors and their connections to the brain. Somewhere in the middle is the study of the perception of color. What makes two colors look related? At what point does a color change from reddish to orangish? The simple models don't work too well to answer those kinds of questions, so color research has a psychological perspective with most new knowledge being gained from human experiments.

How does all this relate to JMP? Color is an important dimension of computer graphics, of course. Color can be used in a categorical way to represent distinct values, or it can be used in a continuous way to represent a scale of values. JMP has a general-purpose palette of 65 colors, organized as 5 shades of 12 hues, plus 5 achromatic shades.

JMP 6 color palette
JMP 6 palette (Windows/Linux version)

These are the colors conveniently available for graph markers, and the colors in the center row are the default colors for most categorical needs in JMP. In JMP 7, we have made minor updates to the palette to address some noted weak spots and have kept the overall structure of 5 shades by 12 hues for compatibility.

JMP 7 color palette
JMP 7 palette (Windows/Linux version)

Some of the hue spacing has changed so that, for instance, orange isn't as close to red as it was before, but the main change is in luminance. We've tried to make the colors in each row be more compatible in their luminance values. (What's luminance? Consider pure RGB green vs. pure RGB blue. They have the same magnitude in RGB space, but green is much more luminous -- has less contrast against white.) Previously, for instance, JMP's yellow was too light to see on a white background and blue was too dark to distinguish from black in some situations. Yellow is still lighter than blue, but now stands out better on a white background.

Of course, color perception depends a great deal on the environment and the observer, so the general-purpose palette is just a starting point. JMP 7 offers more ways to customize colors in your graphs. I'll explore those and other color features of JMP 7 in the next few postings.

If you want to know all about color models, I found a collection of informal and informative papers on color theory at handprint.com.

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Xan Gregg wrote:

I expect so, Chan. We decided to make blue-gray-red the default for JMP 7, but didn't get a chance to provide other options in all the places that need them.


Chan Sinnett wrote:

Hello Xan,

I had come to appreciate the version 6 treatment of "colors by column", because with 'continuous' it gave me an easy to interpret "ROYGBIV" Red-Orange-Yellow-..." (actually in reverse order - but that is OK, and probably with all 12 hue colors). But in Version 7, it comes out as Blue - less blue - grayish - gray - orangish - red.

How can I get my old ROYGBIV back?

(Sorry, I'm not a big script user ...yet)




Xan Gregg wrote:

Thanks for the input, Steve. I hope to address general color defaults in a future version.


Steve wrote:

I use JMP all the time at work but people have been requesting that RED be eliminated from the displays due to color-blind people having trouble seeing it. Many JMP elements (e.g. box plots) default to red and I can't seem to find a means of changing that setting in the menus.


Xan Gregg wrote:

Not sure what light blue line you mean? Were you trying to include a picture?



I understand about colors has changed, but why when I apply the option fill above, the zone above the light blue line appears pink?


Al Best wrote:

I'm using Windows (alas).

But now that I can program a specific RGB color I can get as "pure" a color as I'd like and get around the "gold" solution.


Xan Gregg wrote:

Thanks for the comment, Al.

I assume you are using a Mac, and I should have been explicit about the OS differences. Mac OS has always applied a different gamma correction to color values before sending them on to the monitor, and JMP uses a different palette on Mac OS to compensate for the gamma correction. As a result, if you look a Windows screenshot on a Mac or vice versa, there will be some color shift. And that's not yet considering the color distortions that are possible from a web browser and individual configurations.

Nonetheless, red, orange and yellow are less "pure" than before (we prefer to think "gold" instead of "muddy yellow"), and there are sometimes no perfect solutions, as you point out.


Al Best wrote:

Yes, the old Orange was too close to Red.

Yes, the old yellow was so close to white that it was nearly invisible.

But the new (v7 colors) are NOT an improvement.

Specifically, the new "red" ... As far as my eyes can see, the new red is some shade of purple ... I dont even see anything that I'd call red at all.

Specifically, the new "orange" is just muddy brown.

And the new "yellow" is also just muddier.

My bottom line is that in the Green-Blue-Purple shades there IS an improvement but in Red-Yellow, I definitely like the old Red-orange better ... and dont know how to solve the "invisible yellow" problem.