Silverlight: Convert hex string to Color

One of the things we take for granted in the Web world is the ability to define colors using hex notation. For example, #000000 is black, #FFFFFF is white, and so on.

Unfortunately Silverlight doesn’t have a built-in way to create a System.Windows.Media.Color structure using hex notation. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could write code like this?

// Create a color from its hex code
HexColor color = new HexColor("#FF0000");

// And use it anywhere we'd use a normal Color
// structure without having to cast anything
Brush brush = new SolidColorBrush(color);

Well, it turns out we can. Here’s a little class I created to do the job:

using System;
using System.Globalization;
using System.Text.RegularExpressions;
using System.Windows.Media;

public struct HexColor
    // Regex: This pattern matches hex codes in these two formats:
    // #000000 (no alpha value) and #FF000000 (alpha value at front).
    const string HEX_PATTERN = @"^\#([a-fA-F0-9]{6}|[a-fA-F0-9]{8})$";

    const int LENGTH_WITH_ALPHA = 8;

    Color _color;

    public HexColor(string hexCode)
        if (hexCode == null)
            throw new ArgumentNullException("hexCode");

        if (!Regex.IsMatch(hexCode, HEX_PATTERN))
            throw new ArgumentException(
                "Format must be #000000 or #FF000000 (no extra whitespace)",

        // shave off '#' symbol
        hexCode = hexCode.TrimStart('#');

        // if no alpha value specified, assume no transparency (0xFF)
        if (hexCode.Length != LENGTH_WITH_ALPHA)
            hexCode = String.Format("FF{0}", hexCode);

        _color = new Color();
        _color.A = byte.Parse(hexCode.Substring(0, 2), NumberStyles.AllowHexSpecifier);
        _color.R = byte.Parse(hexCode.Substring(2, 2), NumberStyles.AllowHexSpecifier);
        _color.G = byte.Parse(hexCode.Substring(4, 2), NumberStyles.AllowHexSpecifier);
        _color.B = byte.Parse(hexCode.Substring(6, 2), NumberStyles.AllowHexSpecifier);

    public byte A
        get { return _color.A; }
        set { _color.A = value; }

    public byte R
        get { return _color.R; }
        set { _color.R = value; }

    public byte G
        get { return _color.G; }
        set { _color.G = value; }

    public byte B
        get { return _color.B; }
        set { _color.B = value; }

    // Implicit cast from HexColor to Color
    public static implicit operator Color(HexColor hexColor)
        return hexColor._color;

    // Implicit cast from Color to HexColor
    public static implicit operator HexColor(Color color)
        HexColor c = new HexColor();
        c._color = color;
        return c;

    // Just like with Color, ToString() prints out the hex value of the
    // color in #ARGB format (example: #FF000000) by default.
    public override string ToString()
        return ToString(true);

    // I don't always need the alpha value, so I added an overload here
    // that lets me return the hex value in #RBG format (example: #000000).
    public string ToString(bool includeAlpha)
        if (includeAlpha)
            return _color.ToString();
            return String.Format("#{0}{1}{2}",

That’s it. Now I can seamlessly work with Colors and hex values interchangeably, and my life as a Silverlight developer has gotten a little bit easier.

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