created_at2018-09-21 14:49:22.936409
updated_at2023-07-15 00:19:27.276937
descriptiontrue-colour ↔ ANSI terminal palette converter
Michal Nazarewicz (mina86)



True-colour ↔ ANSI terminal palette converter Docs License

ansi_colours converts between 24-bit sRGB colours and 8-bit colour palette used by ANSI terminals such as xterm or rxvt-unicode in 256-colour mode. The most common use case is when using 24-bit colours in a terminal emulator which only support 8-bit colour palette. It allows true-colours to be approximated by values supported by the terminal.

When mapping true-colour into available 256-colour palette, it tries to balance accuracy and performance. It doesn’t implement the fastest algorithm nor is it the most accurate, instead it uses a formula which should be fast enough and accurate enough for most use-cases.


The algorithm has C and Rust implementations and can be easily used from C, C++ or Rust. The two implementations are equivalent and are provided for best performance. Since version 1.0.4 the Rust crate has sped up by 25% when doing True Colour → ANSI index conversion and 75% when doing conversion in the other direction.


Using this package with Cargo projects is as simple as adding a single dependency:

ansi_colours = "1.2"

and then using one of functions that the library provides:

use ansi_colours::*;

fn main() {
    // Colour at given index:
    println!("{:-3}: {:?}", 50, rgb_from_ansi256(50));

    // Approximate true-colour by colour in the palette:
    let rgb = (100, 200, 150);
    let index = ansi256_from_rgb(rgb);
    println!("{:?} ~ {:-3} {:?}", rgb, index, rgb_from_ansi256(index));

To facilitate better interoperability the crate defines rgb (enabled by default), ansi_term and termcolor cargo features which add support to crates with the same name.

C and C++

The easiest way to use this library in C or C++ is to copy the ansi_colour.h and ansi256.c files to your project, set up compilation step for the ansi256.c file, add the header file to the include path and once all that is done use the two provided functions:

#include <stdio.h>

#include "ansi_colours.h"

int main() {
    // Colour at given index:
    printf("%-3u #%06x\n",  50, rgb_from_ansi256(50));

    // Approximate true-colour by colour in the palette:
    uint32_t rgb = 0x64C896;
    uint8_t index = ansi256_from_rgb(rgb);
    printf("#%06x ~ %-3u %06x\n", rgb, index, rgb_from_ansi256(index));

    return 0;

Unfortunately neither C nor C++ ecosystem has a centralised package distribution service so there currently is no more convenient solution.

Commit count: 55

cargo fmt