How could I store a color in a database field?


Colors Problem Overview

I have to store colors in database.

How could I store a color in a best manner in the database field?, by color name or something else??

Colors Solutions

Solution 1 - Colors

If its for a HTML Page, storing the #RRGGBB tag as a string is probably enough.

If its for .NET , it supports building a color from its ARGB Value

System.Drawing.Color c = System.Drawing.Color.FromArgb(int);

int x = c.ToArgb();

so you could just store that int.

Solution 2 - Colors

The ideal storage format depends on how you plan to use the database.

The simplest solution is of course just storing everything as a 6-byte ASCII hex string of the RGB color, without support for any other format. Though you may run into issues if you later wanted to support additional formats.

For readability, flexibility, and ease of access, using a plain string is a good idea. The difference in storage space between a hex color string and a raw integer is negligible in most cases. For a speed boost you can set the color field to be indexed. And for flexibility, you could add one or more of the following features:

  • Assume the contextual default color if NULL, blank, or invalid
  • Accept an optional trailing alpha byte 00-FF, assuming FF (opaque) if omitted
  • Accept both full (AABBCC) and shorthand (ABC) syntax, which is half the size, faster to type, and supported by CSS
  • Support an optional leading # digit, which is common
  • Support raw strings, to hold anything CSS supports like "rgba(255,255,255,1)" or "red"
  • Support custom color mode strings like "cmyk(), hsv(), hsl(), lab()", etc.
  • Assume RGB(A) hex strings if it begins with a # or the length is 3, 4, 6, or 8 and contains only [0-9A-Fa-f]

To optimize search and sort speed, as well as disk use, storing as an unsigned integer is the way to go. This is because a single number is faster to search through than a string of characters, can be stored internally as small as a few bits, and you can still filter by color channels in your queries using FromArgb() and similar functions. The downside is your code then needs to constantly convert things back and forth for every color field in every query, which may actually offset any database speed gain.

A hybrid approach may be worth exploring. For example, consider a table of all possible 8-bit-per-channel RGB values, with fields composed of things like id, rgbhex, cssname, cmyk, hsl, hsv, lab, rgb, etc. You'd need to automate the creation of such a table since it would be so large (16777216 entries). It would add over 16 MB to your table, but the advantage to this solution is that all your color values would just be a single integer id field linked with a foreign key to the color lookup table. Fast sorts and searches, any color data you need without any conversion, and extremely extensible. You could also keep the table in its own database file to be shared by any other database or script in your application. Admittedly this solution is overkill for most cases.

Solution 3 - Colors

Probably the colour value would be best, e.g. #FFFFFF or #FF0000

Solution 4 - Colors

Store a colour as a 24 or 32 bit integer, like in HTML/CSS i.e. #FF00CC but converted to an integer not a string.

Integers will take up less space then strings (especially VCHARs).

Solution 5 - Colors

Store it as an int

Use ToArgb and FromArgb to set and get the values.

Solution 6 - Colors

I think it depends. If you just need to store the color, then hex notation should be fine. If you need to perform queries against specific color channels, then you'd want smallint fields for each color channel (be it RGB, ARGB, CYMK, etc).

So, for simple storage, keep it simple. If you need to perform analysis, you'll need to consider alternate options as dictated by your problem domain.

Solution 7 - Colors

I suggest having a 3 column color lookup table:

ID int; Name varchar(40) null; ColorVal char(8) or int (depending on how you're representing colors)

For unnamed colors just leave the name field null

Solution 8 - Colors

I'd go for hexadecimal notation if the colors are limited to web colors.

So for example #0000FF for blue.

More info here:

Solution 9 - Colors

What format are you looking to store the colors in? CMTK, RGB, Pantone? It kinda helps to know... the strictly #RGB hex format works great if its for web colors or an application but not so good if you're trying to mix paints.

Solution 10 - Colors

I store it as a char(9).

  • Included the '#'-sign so that I don't have to prepend it in code and use it immediately
  • Normal char instead of nchar
  • Stores the transparancy

Solution 11 - Colors

Why don't you use both? Table structure would be Int ARGB for the Key and a varchar for the Name.

ARGB (Key), Name
FF000000  ,White


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Content TypeOriginal AuthorOriginal Content on Stackoverflow
QuestionDhanapalView Question on Stackoverflow
Solution 1 - ColorsEoin CampbellView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 2 - ColorsBeejorView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 3 - ColorsJimmehView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 4 - ColorsRichard StellingView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 5 - ColorsGeoff ApplefordView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 6 - ColorsRyan EmerleView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 7 - ColorsC. RossView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 8 - ColorsGerrie SchenckView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 9 - ColorsChristopher KleinView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 10 - ColorsJowenView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 11 - ColorsMrTellyView Answer on Stackoverflow