Traffic-lights with CSS

Just before Christmas I wanted to build a site that helped developers understand the impact that using Web Platform features would have on there potential reach. For example, if I used WebGL what is my target reach and what additional features can I use without impacting my potential audience figures.

I launched Sweet. Anyway, that is not the point of this post. One of the features of this site is.

One of the core features I wanted to implement was a traffic light system that graded the features like a traffic light. Green = Good, Red = Bad, Amber = Be Warned.

My original implementation was just using some simple CSS classes.

.good {
  color: green;

.ok {
  color: amber;

.bad {
  color: red;

I knew this was bad, but using RGB I couldn’t work out sanely how to grade between 255,0,0, 255,126,0 and 0,255,0 without having logic in my code that looked like:

if (support < 25%) then .bad
if (support >25% and support < 75%) then .ok
if (support > 75%) then .good

added to that, I wanted the color to be more red than amber if it was at 35%.

Anyway, after a little chat with the awesome Paul Lewis, he mentioned that HSL (Hue, Saturation, Light) color scheme would be good for this problem because naturally the Hue value (0-359) rotates from Red, through Amber to Green (0 = Red, 45 = Amber, 90 = Green)

Red = color: hsla(0, 50%, 50%, 1) Amber = color: hsla(45, 50%, 50%, 1) Green = color: hsla(90, 50%, 50%, 1)

It is then simple given a value for percentage support to map that to 0-90 range and produce your traffic light colors.

element.styles.color = "hsla(" + ((percentage / 100) * 90) + ", 50%, 50%)";

Paul Kinlan

Trying to make the web and developers better.

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