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Håkon Wium Lie (born July 16, 1965) is a Norwegian web pioneer, a standards activist, and the Chief Technology Officer of Opera Software from 1998 until the browser was sold to new owners in 2016. He is best known for developing Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) while working with Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1994.

Håkon Wium Lie
Håkon Wium Lie, March 2009
Halden, Norway
EmployerOpera Software
Known forCascading Style Sheets
WebsitePersonal homepage of Håkon W. Lie


Education and careerEdit

Håkon Wium Lie attended Østfold University College, West Georgia College, and MIT Media Lab, receiving an MS in Visual Studies in 1991.

On February 17, 2006, he successfully defended his PhD thesis at the University of Oslo. His PhD thesis is background to the origins of CSS and a rationale to some of the design decisions behind it – particularly as to why some features were not included and why CSS avoids trying to become DSSSL.[1][2]

He has worked for, among others, the W3C, INRIA, CERN, MIT Media Lab, and Norwegian telecom research in Televerket.

Web StandardsEdit

While working with Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1994, he proposed the concept of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).[3] As a showcase and testbed, he integrated CSS into the Arena web browser, which becamee the first CSS implementation.[4]

After joining W3C in 1995, he worked on the CSS specifications, including CSS1[5], CSS2[6], and RFC 2318 (March 1998). Over the next decade, CSS established itself as one of the fundamental web standards, with profound impact on typography, aesthetics, and accessibility on the web.[7]

Along with his work on the CSS specifications, Wium Lie has been an activist for standards in general.

In 2005, he wrote an open letter to Bill Gates of Microsoft, asking why Microsoft's Internet Explorer did not support common web standards.[8] A few day later, when Bill Gates announced that Internet Explorer 7 would be launched, Wium Lie responed by launching the Acid2 challenge to Microsoft. [9] Although primarily targeted at Microsoft, the Acid2 test was also difficult for other browsers. Since then, Acid2 and the subsequent Acid3 have established themselves as benchmark tests which all browsers are measured against.[10]

In 2006, Wium Lie started campaigning for browsers to support downloadable web fonts using common font formats.[11][12][13] As of 2011, all major browser vendors have implemented web fonts this way.[14]

In 2007, Wium Lie started campaigning for the video element to make it easier to publish video on the web.[15]At Google I/O in 2011, Wium Lie presented the video element in combination with the WebM format which Google had open-sourced.[16][17]

In 2008, he was spokesperson for a group of technical committee members who resigned over the decision by Standards Norway to vote for the approval of OOXML.[18]

Wium Lie has also promoted the concept of printing from the web.[19] The third edition of his book on CSS, co-authored with Bert Bos, was produced from HTML and CSS files.[20][21] These files were then converted to PDF by the Prince XML + CSS formatter. In 2005, he joined the board of YesLogic, the company that makes the Prince formatter.

Building on his experience with web printing, in 2011 Wium Lie proposed to extend CSS to support pagination on screens.[22]

He has argued against the use of formatting objects and CSS Regions on the web.[23][24]

CTO of Opera SoftwareEdit

In April 1999, Wium Lie joined Opera Software in Oslo, Norway as CTO. His move was motivated by seeing Opera programmers make more progress on implementing CSS in three months than what Netscape and Microsoft had achieved in three years.[25]

At Opera, he spearheaded the development of mobile browsers, in particular small-screen rendering of web pages. Small-screen rendering enabled Opera to show normal web pages on the small screens commonly found on feature phones running the Opera Mini browser.[26]

When Opera Software filed a complaint against Microsoft in the EU over Internet Explorer in 2007, Wium Lie was a spokesperson, stressing the need for Microsoft to fully support web standards in their browser.[27] Opera's complaint led to a settlement where Microsoft started offering rival browsers from a browser choice screen to Windows users in Europe, and Wium Lie declared this a victory for the web.[28]

In 2013, Opera started a gradual transition from its own Presto web engin, to the WebKit engine also used by Safari and Google Chrome. Wium Lie said that it made most sense to work with the open-source communities than to continue developing a its own engine.[29]

Political and civic activitiesEdit

In 2012 he co-founded the Pirate Party of Norway, and he ran as their candidate in the 2013 election.

In 2014, he proposed to use the two unused Norwegian TLDs (.sj and .bv) to create privacy-enhanced zones.[30][31]

Wium Lie is a self-declared social democrat and he has contributed economically to cultural and political causes.[32] However, in 2017, he was an initial investor in the controversial right-wing[33][34] Norwegian online newspaper Resett stating it was meaningful to help provide a platform for Helge Lurås, a critic of NATO campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya, and Bjørn Ihler, a surviver of the Utøya massacre.[35][36][37][38][39][40]

Wium Lie is against Norwegian membership in the EEA and when the party Alliansen was formed as an anti-EEA party in 2017 he was on the election list for parliament for Akershus[41][42]. However, Wium Lie denounced the party before the election due to its shifting platform.[43]

In 2018, Wium Lie was sued by Lovdata for publishing Norwegian court decisions on, a volunteer web site. In less than 24 hours, the web site was closed by the Oslo court, and Wium Lie was sentenced to pay the legal bills of Lovdata. Under Norwegian law, court decisions are exempted from copyright but Wium Lie was not allowed to appear in court. In the wake of this decision, members of the Norwegian Parliament have asked for changes in how Lovdata is organized.[44] The case has been appealed and will be decided by the Supreme Court of Norway.

Personal lifeEdit

Wium Lie lives in Oslo, Norway. There, he has started web-based campaigns against high-rise buildings[45] and advertising in the public space.[46] Wium Lie also maintains a woodworking studio and runs an organic farm.[47]

Awards and recognitionsEdit

In 1999, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[48]

In 2017, Wium Lie held a keynote at the WeAreDevelopers Conference 2017, talking about his contributions to the web today with the creation of CSS, and how it has evolved together with the web itself up to its current state[49].

See alsoEdit


Lie and Bert Bos wrote a book on CSS, now in its third edition.

  • Cascading Style Sheets: Designing for the Web (1st ed.). ISBN 0-201-41998-X.
  • Cascading Style Sheets: Designing for the Web (2nd ed.). ISBN 0-201-59625-3.
  • Cascading Style Sheets: Designing for the Web (3rd ed.). ISBN 0-321-19312-1.


  1. ^ "Disputas: Doktorand Håkon Wium Lie". Archived from the original on 2006-02-23.
  2. ^ Lie, Håkon Wium. "Phd. Thesis: Cascading Style Sheets".
  3. ^ Cascading HTML Style Sheets
  4. ^ Håkon Wium Lie; Bert Bos. "Chapter 20 - The CSS saga". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Cascading Style Sheets, level 1". World Wide Web Consortium. 1996-12-17.
  6. ^ "Cascading Style Sheets, level 1". World Wide Web Consortium. 1996-12-17.
  7. ^ Shankland, Stephen (2010-11-08). "Browser underdog Opera fights for its survival". And its chief technology officer, Håkon Wium Lie, worked with Web founder Tim Berners-Lee and founded the Web formatting technology called Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that's now one of the hottest areas of Web design.
  8. ^ "Opera to MS: Get real about interoperability, Mr Gates". The Register. 2005-02-11. So, Mr. Gates, writes Hakon Lie, you say you believe in interoperability. Then why, pray tell, doesn't the web page of your interoperability communiqué conform to the HTML4 standard as it claims to?
  9. ^ Lie, Håkon Wium (16 March 2005). "The Acid2 challenge to Microsoft". CNET. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2008. To ensure that IE 7 does not become another failed promise, the Web community will issue a challenge to Microsoft. We will produce a test page, code-named Acid2, that will actively use features Web designers crave, such as fixed positioning of elements.
  10. ^ "Acid2: The Guided Tour". The Web Standards Project. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  11. ^ Microsoft's forgotten monopoly
  12. ^ Web fonts: the view from the free world
  13. ^ CSS @ Ten: The Next Big Thing
  14. ^ Samples at: Webfonts demo and test pages. for Prince, Safari, Opera 10 alpha, and a special build of Firefox. Retrieved 02-Aug-2009.
  15. ^ A call for video on the web
  16. ^ Metz, Cade. "Opera CTO still sour on Google native code plugin". The Register. This morning, at Google I/O in downtown San Francisco, Wium Lie delivered a presentation on Opera's use of WebP, a new "lossy" image compression format open sourced by Google last fall.
  17. ^ Håkon Wium Lie giving a Google Tech Talk on <video>
  18. ^ "Norwegian standards body implodes over OOXML controversy". Opera CTO Håkon Wium Lie is among the technical committee members who are resigning over the OOXML decision. In the letter, he stresses the importance of open standards and the need for formats that are universally accessible to everyone.
  19. ^ Håkon Wium Lie and Michael Day giving a Google Tech Talk on printing from the web on YouTube
  20. ^ Printing a Book with CSS: Boom!
  21. ^ A description of how the CSS book was produced from HTML and CSS into PDF
  22. ^ Opera brings fondleslab-style reading to bog-standard web
  23. ^ Formatting Objects considered harmful
  24. ^ CSS Regions Considered Harmful
  25. ^ McAllister, Neil (2006-10-30). "Why Opera isn't planning to go open source". Computerworld. I joined Opera when I saw that Opera was able to implement as much of CSS in three months as Netscape and Microsoft could in three years
  26. ^ "A quart into a pint pot". The Economist. 2002-12-14. Thank goodness, then, for Opera, a Norwegian software firm. It has devised a clever new way to squeeze grown-up web pages on to diminutive devices, such as smartphones, so that they both look good and are easy to navigate. The trick is to reformat the web page in an intelligent way—by working out which parts are important and which not, says Hakon Lie, Opera's chief technology officer.
  27. ^ Dignan, Larry. "Opera files complaint against Microsoft in the EU over IE, Windows bundle; CTO makes Web standards case". ZDNet.
  28. ^ Meller, Paul. "EC, Microsoft Settlement Broadly Welcomed". The legally binding commitments Microsoft made in the browser case mark "a victory for the future of the Web and its users," Hakon Wium Lie, the chief technology officer at Opera said at a press conference.
  29. ^ Clarke, Gavin. "Opera joins Google/Apple in-crowd with shift to WebKit and Chromium". Opera chief technology officer Håkon Wium Lie said in a statement: "It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further.”
  30. ^ Håkon Wium Lie Net names for safe shelter, 31 July 2014, fetched Feb 25 2017
  31. ^ Stig Øyvann How two remote Arctic territories became the front line in the battle for internet privacy, 01 Oct 2014, fetched Feb 25 2017
  32. ^ "Ga kvart million til Operaen". 2007-11-23. Vi er jo alle sosialdemokrater, og ønsker fortsette med det ... Jeg er ikke en superrik person. Noen bruker penger på dyre biler, men mitt store innkjøp i år var en brukt elbil. Bare der sparte jeg nok en halv million
  33. ^ The New Normal: Scandals as a Standard Feature of Political Life in Nordic Countries [1]
  34. ^ Challenging Journalistic Authority: Media criticism in far-right alternative media [2]
  35. ^ Dette er eierne av Resett [3]
  36. ^ Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018 [4]
  37. ^ Lurås, Helge; Ulriksen, Ståle; Valther, Vegard (2010). "The Strategic Significance of Afghanistan. A Note of Caution to the NATO Summit". NUPI Policy Brief;. 9-2010.
  38. ^ "Libya ble en rent sinnelagsetisk operasjon, som etterlot seg kaos". 29 September 2015. Libya ble en rent sinnelagsetisk operasjon, som forutsigbart nok etterlot seg kaos. Noen av oss advarte mot dette da operasjonen tok til.
  39. ^ "A Norway massacre survivor explains how we need to pay more attention to the radicalization of white men". 2017-10-07. Should the world be concerned about the radicalization of white men? “Yes,” says Bjørn Ihler, “I almost got killed by one.”
  40. ^ "Ønsker konfrontasjon med Støre og Solberg". 2017-08-24. Jeg synes det er meningfylt å bidra til at nye stemmer som Helge Lurås og Bjørn Ihler får en plattform. Jeg har ingen rolle i redaksjonen, men jeg synes det Helge sier om trusselvurderingen av Russland virker fornuftig. Jeg synes ofte at norske medier demoniserer et naboland vi burde kunne ha gode relasjoner til, sier Håkon Wium Lie
  41. ^ Nytt politisk parti vil ha Norge ut av EØS [5]
  42. ^ NSDs valglistearkiv[6]
  43. ^ "Historien om milliardærenes nye nettavis" (no-NB) (2017-09-01). Retrieved 2019-04-23. "Det må her skytes inn at Håkon Wium Lie ikke lenger vil la seg assosiere med partiet. I en epost skriver han: Jeg tror det hadde vært fint å få en gründer på Stortinget, og det er slik jeg kjenner Hans Jørgen. At han til og med startet et firma som tilbyr sikker epost, er et ekstra pluss. Alliansens fanesak var kampen mot EØS-avtalen, som er et åk for Norge, og jeg sa derfor ja til å bli listeført. Så ser jeg også at valgkampen handler om andre temaer enn EØS, og jeg har måttet distansere meg fra uttalelser. Det er leit, og jeg regner meg ikke som kandidat, selv om jeg fortsatt står på listene."
  44. ^ Being Sued [7]
  45. ^ StoppBlokk campaign
  46. ^ Stans!no campaign against advertising in Oslo
  47. ^ "Håkon Wium Le", The Setup, October 7, 2014
  48. ^ "1999 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 1999. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Nielsen, Henrik Frystyk (7 June 2002). "Libwww Hackers". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 2 June 2010.

External linksEdit