by Mark Harrower on June 23, 2009

I’m pleased to announce we’ve launched! After 8 years, which is about 80 in web years, it was time to update and overhaul the much-loved ColorBrewer. I was lucky to be a co-designer on the original and with the Flex development talents of Andy Woodruff we were finally able to implement ideas that had been kicking around. This remains totally free and adds some new features that’ll make using this easier and faster.


New Features include:

1. EXPORT: We never really had this before and now you have four ways to get colors out of ColorBrewer: export Adobe ASE color swatches directly into Illustrator or Photoshop, copy and paste color specs, download an Excel file of specs, or even run ColorBrewer right inside ArcGIS (thanks to the folks at the NCS).

2. MILLIONS OF SPOT/ACCENT COLORS: You can now check any spot color against the schemes, not just the pre-defined 8 we use to include. For example, you can now see how well your specific company colors work against any scheme – just type in the hex/rgb/cmyk values and take them for a test drive.

3. FILTERING: You can now narrow your search and find what you’re looking for much faster using filtering by colorblind-safe, print friendly, and photocopy-able check boxes.

4. TRANSPARENCY: This one was much requested, especially by folks who wanted to preview how well the color schemes worked on mash-up tiles and terrain/hillshading. This one was tough becuase the quality guarantee (and testing) behind the schemes was done with fully opaque colors and white backgrounds. So be carefully not to assume that the schemes will work as well once you start changing their opacity and merge them with other map layers, but if you are cautious (e.g., 3 or 4 colors) it may work for your needs.

One of our core ideas of our company is that we can and should donate some a portion of our time to fun side projects. Updating ColorBrewer was just such a labor of love and we believe, deeply, in the need for tools to support the on-going democratization of cartography and also the need for good design in the world. Cheers!

There are 11 comments in this article:

  1. June 23, 2009Andrea says:

    Hi Mark,
    it’s a great thing!!!

    Only a question: where is export button?

    Thank you,


  2. June 23, 2009Andrea says:

    Hi Mark,
    I have seen it ;-)

    best regards,


  3. June 23, 2009Zery says:

    Hi Mark,
    it’s a helpfull things, i have a question, in earlier version i can download the swf file so i can use it offline, is there a way in this version i can use it offline to??

  4. June 24, 2009Mark says:

    Hi Andrea – glad you like it! The export button is perhaps a bit hidden…it’s in the bottom left corner of the map.

  5. June 24, 2009Mark says:

    Hi Zery – This is a more complicated Flex project with some server interactions (not just a single file anymore), but down the road we could make a stand-alone Flex app that would run locally on your desktop…it’s just a matter of finding the time! Cheers.

  6. June 24, 2009Kevin says:

    “or even run ColorBrewer right inside ArcGIS (thanks to the folks at the NCS)”
    So how does one do that?
    Nice work!

  7. June 24, 2009Mark Harrower says:

    Kevin: Go to

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