Bite-sized CSS & HTML nuggets

Working with 8-digit hex colors (aRGB) in Internet Explorer filters

You’ve probably come across the use of CSS filters as fallback techniques for RGBa colors or CSS gradients for example. They have their limitations and implications, but they do come in handy sometimes. They look something like this:

.awesomesauce {
    background: rgba(0,0,0,.6);
    filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr=#99000000,endColorstr=#99000000);

Maybe you’ve noticed these weird colors that have 8 instead of the usual 6 hexadecimal digits. Well, these are aRGB colors, used in Internet Explorer filters but also in Android development among others.

The syntax is pretty easy: first a pair of digits for the alpha channel and then 3 pairs for the RGB channels, just like regular hex colors. But instead of specifying alpha as a percentage or a floating point like for RGBa colors, it is defined in a range from 00 to FF. To calculate the hex value from a decimal number in JavaScript:

hexAlpha = Math.floor(decimalAlpha * 255).toString(16);
// so:
// rgba(255,255,255,0) = #00ffffff
// rgba(0,0,0,.5) = #7f000000
// rgba(255,255,0,1) = #ffffff00 = #ffff00 = #ff0

To make it even easier, there are several RGBa to aRGB convertors out there.