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Pheasant.js makes colors manipulations easy.


Server-side (Node)

npm install pheasant

Then use:

var Pheasant = require( 'pheasant' );


Include the build/pheasant.min.js file in your page. There’s no dependency, only 15ko of pure JavaScript (4.4ko gzip’d). Pheasant can also be used as an AMD module.


Pheasant exposes one object, Pheasant. It has the following methods:


This function returns a Pheasant.Color object of the parsed string, or null if it can’t be parsed (see the support table below for the supported formats).

Pheasant.parse( 'red' ); // red 
Pheasant.parse( '#0F0' ); // green 
Pheasant.parse( '#0000FF' ); // blue 
Pheasant.parse( 'rgb(128, 128, 128)' ); // gray 
Pheasant.parse( 'rgb(10%, 10%, 10%, 0.3)' ); // transparent gray 
Pheasant.parse( 'rgba(255, 192, 203, 0.5)' ); // transparent pink 
Pheasant.parse( 'hsl(240, 100%, 50%)' ); // blue 
Pheasant.parse( 'hsla(120, 100%, 25%, 1)' ); // green 


This function takes two arguments, the first is the string to parse and the second is the identifier of the format to convert to.

Pheasant.parse( 'pink' ).toString( 'rgba' ); // 'rgba(255,192,203,1)' 
Pheasant.convert( 'pink', 'rgba' ); // 'rgba(255,192,203,1)' 


This function takes one argument, a string, and return the first identifier of its format, if it’s a supported one. It returns null if it can’t guess the format.

Pheasant.guessFormat( '#ccc' ); // 'hex3' 
Pheasant.guessFormat( '#cccbbb' ); // 'hex6' 
Pheasant.guessFormat( '#cccb' ); // null 


This function takes an object as its argument, and return a range of colors. The object must have the following properties:

  • from: The color to start the range with. It can be a valid color string, or a Pheasant.Color object.
  • to: The color to end the range with. As from, it can be a valid color string, or a Pheasant.Color object.

Additionally, the object can have the following optional properties:

  • length: the length of the range (default to 100).
  • type: the type of the range values. It must be one of the following:
    • 'string' (default): Each value is a string describing the color. If you provide a format attribute, it’ll be used. If it’s not provided and if the two colors (from and to) both are strings of the same format, this is the one which will be used. If none of theses conditions are met, the default format will be used.
    • 'object': Each value is a Pheasant.Color object.
    • 'rgb': Each value is an array of three numbers, the red, green and blue channels.
    • 'rgba': Same as 'rgb', but with the alpha channel.
  • format: this attribute is used only if the type is not provided or is set to 'string'. It defines the format used for the colors strings.

This function returns an empty array if from and/or to are missing, and/or if the length is lesser or equal to zero, and/or if the type attribute is not valid, and/or the format attribute is not valid, and/or from (or to) is a string which cannot be parsed. Some values in the range may be null if you choose the colorName format, since some values don’t have a name (e.g. rgba(1, 1, 1)).

// [ '#fff', '#fff', '#fff' ] 
Pheasant.range({ from: '#fff', to: '#fff', length: 3 });
// ["#abc", "#89a", "#568", "#345", "#123"] 
Pheasant.range({ from: '#ABC', to: '#123', length: 5 });
// ["#40bf40", "#3ca13c", "#378337", "#336633", "#2e482e", "#2a2a2a"] 
    from: 'hsl(120, 50%, 50%)',
    to: 'rgb(42, 42, 42)',
    length: 6,
    format: 'hex6'

Color objects

You can create a Color object using the following constructor:

var color = new Pheasant.Color( red, green, blue, alpha );

alpha is optional (default to 1), and red, green and blue should be integers between 0 and 255.

Color objects has four attributes, .red, .green, .blue and .alpha. They also have two convenient methods: .getRGB() and .getRGBA(), which return an array of .red, .green and .blue properties, plus the .alpha one for .getRGBA().

Pheasant.parse( 'navy' ).blue; // 128 


You can use the .toString() method to convert colors to the format you want. Without argument, it convert the color to the default format (#ABCDEF). You can specify the format you want as a string. See the format identifiers below.

Pheasant.parse( 'red' ).toString(); // '#f00' 
Pheasant.parse( '#00F' ).toString( 'colorName' ); // 'blue' 
var c = Pheasant.parse( 'rgb(245, 245, 220)' );
c.toString( 'colorName' ); // 'beige' 
c.toString( 'hsl' ); // 'hsl(60,56%,91%)' 

Since it may be painful to write Pheasant.parse( 'foo' ).toString( 'bar' ) for a one-time conversion, Pheasant has a method for that: .convert.


This method returns an array of red, green and blue values.

Pheasant.parse( 'red' ).getRGB(); // [ 255, 0, 0 ] 


This method returns an array of red, green, blue, and opacity values.

Pheasant.parse( 'red' ).getRGBA();                // [ 255,   0,   0, 1   ] 
Pheasant.parse('hsla(42,12%,99%,0.5)').getRGBA(); // [ 253, 253, 252, 0.5 ] 


This method returns the equivalent HSL values of the color (hue, saturation, lightness).

Pheasant.parse('red').getHSL();  // [  0, 100, 50 ] 
Pheasant.parse('#ffe').getHSL(); // [ 60, 100, 97 ] 


This method returns the equivalent HSV values of the color (hue, saturation, value). HSV is also called HSB (“value” being replaced by “brightness”), so an alias method called .getHSB is also available (this is exactly the same).

Pheasant.parse('green').getHSV(); // [ 120, 100, 50 ] 


This method returns a new object representing the negative of the current color. It preserves the alpha channel.

var c1 = new Pheasant.color( 42, 42, 42 ),
    c2 = c1.negative();
c2.getRGB(); // [ 213, 213, 213 ]
Pheasant.parse( 'white' ).negative().toString( 'colorName' ); // 'black'


This method returns the brightness index of the color. This is an integer between 0 (dark) and 255 (white). It can be used to mesure the contrast between two colors.

Pheasant.parse( '#fff' ).brightness(); // 255 
Pheasant.parse('rgb(42, 10, 134)').brightness(); // 34 


This method tests if the color is darker than another color. You can pass it a Color object or a string.

Pheasant.parse( '#fff' ).isDarkerThan( '#eee' ); // false 
Pheasant.parse( 'red' ).isDarkerThan( '#FAFAFA' ); // true 


This method tests if the color is lighter than another color. You can pass it a Color object or a string.

Pheasant.parse( '#fff' ).isLighterThan( '#eee' ); // true 
Pheasant.parse( 'red' ).isLighterThan( '#FAFAFA' ); // false 


This method tests the equality between this color and another. You can pass it a Color object or a string.

Pheasant.parse( '#000' ).eq( 'rgba( 0, 0, 0)' ); // true 


This method returns the brightness contrast between the current color and another. It’s an integer between 0 and 255.

Pheasant.parse('blue').brightnessContrast('yellow') // true 
Pheasant.parse('blue').brightnessContrast('darkblue'); // false 


This method returns the hue contrast between the current color and another. It’s an integer between 0 and 765. For the best readability, the brightness contrast between the text color and the background color should be higher than 125, and the hue contrast higher than 500.

Color Formats

Built-in Support

All standard CSS/SVG colors formats are supported.

Format Parsing Stringifying Identifiers
#ABC hex3, hexa3
#ABCDEF hex6, hexa4
color names colorName, colourName
hsl() hsl
hsla() hsla
rgb()* rgb
rgba()* rgba

Format identifiers are case-insensitive.

(*): The rgb() and rgba() formats also support percentages values, like rgb(20%, 10%, 45%) and rgba(35%, 0%, 100%, 0.2). If you want to force percentages in the output, append % to each identifier: rgb% and rgba%.

Setting the default output format

The default ouput format (for toString) is hex6. You can change it with Pheasant.setDefaultStringFormat():

Pheasant.parse( 'lightgreen' ).toString(); // '#90ee90' 
Pheasant.setDefaultStringFormat( 'rgb' );
Pheasant.parse( 'lightgreen' ).toString(); // 'rgb(144,238,144)' 

Adding a format

You can add a new format with Pheasant.addFormat(). This method takes one argument, an object with the following properties:

  • name: the identifier(s) of the format. Must be a string (one identifier) or an array of strings (multiple identifiers).
  • parse: a function which convert a string in your format to a color object. It must return an object with the following, optional, properties:
    • red: the red channel (integer between 0 and 255)
    • blue: the blue channel (integer between 0 and 255)
    • green: the green channel (integer between 0 and 255)
    • alpha: the alpha channel (float between 0 and 1) If it can’t parse the string, it must return null. If the returned value is not null, it’ll be wrapped in a Pheasant.Color object.
  • stringify: a function wich convert a Pheasant.Color object to a string of your format. It must return null if it can’t stringify the color (e.g.: there’s NaN values in it).
  • normalize: Optional. If set to false, the parsed string won’t be normalized before being passed to your .parse function (the normalizing process force the string to lowercase and remove trailing spaces).
  • test: Optional. If it’s a function, it’ll be used to test whether a string is valid in this format or not. If it’s a regex, its .test method will be used. This attribute is used by the .guessFormat function.

The object must provide the parse and/or stringify attributes, and must provide the name attribute.

When a string is passed to Pheasant.parse, it tries to parse it with every available format. If no format can parse it (i.e. they all return null), it returns null.

The Pheasant.addFormat() method return either:

  • null if your format has only one name and it’s already taken
  • the name of your format if it’s available
  • an array of strings if your format has multiple names. Only the available names are returned

This means that if you try to register a new format with the identifier hex3 (already taken), it won’t be registered and the call will return null. If you try with HEX3, that’s the same since format identifiers are case-insensitive. If your format has two names, hex3 and hex_3, it will only be bound to hex_3, since hex3 is not available.

If you want to clear all the available formats, use the Pheasant.formats object:

Pheasant.formats = {};


Say you want to add a custom color format, which represent colors like that: custom:<blue>/<red>/<green>. It doesn’t support the alpha channel, and blue/red/green values are integer between 0 and 255. Here is how you can add this format:

Pheasant.addFormat((function() {
    // this regex match your format 
    var custom_re = /custom:(\d{1,3})\/(\d{1,3})\/(\d{1,3})/;
    return {
        name: 'custom', // the name 
        test: custom_re, // this is used to test if a string is valid in your format 
        parse: function( s ) {
            // parse the string 
            custom_re.lastIndex = 0;
            var brg = custom_re.exec( s );
            return { blue: +brg[1], red: +brg[2], green: +brg[3] };
        stringify: function( c ) {
            // stringify a Color object 
            return 'custom:' + + '/' + + '/' +;

You can now try your format:

Pheasant.guessFormat( 'custom:42/18/255' ); // 'custom' 
Pheasant.parse( 'custom:1/2/3' ).getRGB(); // [ 2, 3, 1 ] 
Pheasant.convert( '#ABC', 'custom' ); // "custom:204/170/187" 


Clone this repo, and then run make test-all:

git clone
cd Pheasant
make test-all

You have to install the dependencies if they’re not already installed:

npm -g install mocha chai uglify-js mocha-phantomjs
# install Node-JSCoverage 
git clone
cd node-jscoverage
./configure && make && make install

You also need PhantomJS.


See the LICENSE file (MIT).


Date format is DD/MM/YYYY.

v0.2.2 (08/10/2013)

  • Color#brightness, Color#brightnessContrast, Color#hueContrast
  • Color#isLighterThan & Color#isDarkerThan fixed
  • Color#getHSL, Color#getHSV, Color#getHSB

v0.2.1 (10/09/2013)

  • AMD support (#6)
  • On Node, Pheasant is now returned as the module itself (i.e. require('pheasant'), not require('pheasant').Pheasant), but the old method is still supported for backward compatibility.

v0.2.0 (12/03/2013)

  • Pheasant#range
  • Color#isLighterThan, Color#isDarkerThan, Color#eq
  • Minified version added
  • Better doc

v0.1.1 (10/03/2013)

  • Color#negative (#3)
  • test optional attribute support added on .addFormat argument
  • Pheasant.guessFormat added

v0.1.0 (09/03/2013)

First version.