[scribus-dev] New Intiative FreieFarbe/FreeColour announces Open Colours Systems Collection 1.0

"Christoph Schäfer" christoph-schaefer at gmx.de
Sat May 2 20:08:03 UTC 2015

I'm pleased to introduce a new member to the Libre Graphics Community: the German initiative FreieFarbe / FreeColour.

Please take note of their initial announcement below.



Announcement: Project FreieFarbe / FreeColour has been launched and Open Colour Systems Collection 1.0 has been released

Websites: www.freiefarbe.de and www.freecolour.org

FreieFarbe / FreeColour is a loose association of (until now) German-speaking colour professionals of all stripes, from designers to software developers. FreieFarbe / FreeColour intends to promote colour communication, and its interests aren't primarily commercial.

==Liberating Colour==

The founders of FreieFarbe / FreeColour are convinced that currently available proprietary and aggressively protected colour systems, like Pantone, NCS et al., aren't the best solutions to handle colour.

Hence FreieFarbe's / FreeColour's dedication to promote and work on the following objectives:

- Making colour literally and metaphorically calculable;

- Making existing and future colour system comparable;

- Simplifying colour communication;

- Overcoming excessive licensing, copyright and trademark protections for colours by providing better and open alternatives;

- Creating an online resource pool with the necessary knowledge for consistent colour workflows;

- Making the "mystery" that is colour comprehensible.

In other words: It wants to *liberate colour from its proprietary chains*.

FreieFarbe / FreeColour is open to everyone who is interested in contributing and willing to share personal or professional knowledge with a wider public. 

==The Future: CIE L*a*b* and HLC==

One step to liberate colours is the universal adaption of the CIE L*a*b* colour model, and this includes end users. Since CIE L*a*b* isn't very intuitive, FreieFarbe / FreeColour also promotes the use of the HLC (Hue, Lightness, Chroma) colour definition, which is easier to handle than pure L*a*b*. From a user point of view, it's similar to HSV in the RGB colour model, but much more reliable and flexible.

==Open Colour Systems Collection (OCSC) 1.0 Available for Download==

As of today, one of the founding members of FreieFarbe / FreeColour, Holger Everding, CEO and owner of dtp studio oldenburg, a German company specialised in colour software, has made available a collection of more than 350 commercial colour systems under a Creative Commons licence: The Open Colour Systems Collection (OCSC) 1.0. These colour palettes can be freely distributed with all Libre Graphics programmes.

Please note that the digital colour values in these palettes aren't necessarily identical with the official ones provided by the respective colour vendors. Instead, they are based on a sophisticated spectrometric measuring procedure of the official physical colour references (fans, swatches etc.). Thus, they are potentially even more "correct" than the official vendors' palette files. Also note that, for obvious reasons, the "big" colour systems (Pantone, RAL, NCS etc.) are not included, but it's more than a start. The colour systems cover all kinds of use cases: print, foils, paint, varnish, textiles and many more.

Regarding the licence, dtp studio decided to use a rather restrictive CC version: CC BY-ND 4.0. The simple reason for this choice is that users across programmes and platforms need to be assured that they are working with the same colour values when using a specific palette. In other words: It's an important part of the "colour communication" objective.

The colour palettes in dtp studio's proprietary software products were originally in the company's proprietary BCS binary format. These BCS palettes were accompanied by plain text and image files, which are being read by the respective programmes at runtime.

By contrast, the Open Colour Systems Collection is available in Swatchbooker's SBZ format. FreieFarbe / FreeColour and dtp studio are aware of the fact that the SBZ format isn't widely supported yet, but it seemed to be the only format that was fit for purpose:

- It allows for storing CIE L*a*b* values (since all Open Colour Systems Collection files use this colour model);

- It allows for storing metadata, including: description, copyright and licensing information, as well as metadata translation (the descriptions of the palettes are currently being stored in English and German in each file);

- There exists a reference implementation in the form of Swatchbooker;

- Since SBZ files are ZIP archives, it was possible to add a preview (a photograph of the real world colour fans or swatch) to most of them.

FreieFarbe / FreeColour and dtp studio would be pleased to cooperate with the Libre Graphics Community on improvements to the SBZ format, its eventual standardisation, or the development of better alternatives. Both would also be glad to explore future fields of cooperation with respect to the objectives mentioned above, including code development.

On behalf of FreieFarbe / FreeColour and dtp studio oldenburg

Holger Everding

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