Håkon Wium Lie

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Håkon Wium Lie
Håkon Wium Lie, March 2009
Born (1965-07-27) July 27, 1965 (age 53)
Halden, Norway
EmployerOpera Software
Known forCascading Style Sheets
WebsitePersonal homepage of Håkon W. Lie

Håkon Wium Lie (born 1965 in Halden) is a Norwegian web pioneer, a standards activist, a founding member of the Pirate Party of Norway, and the former Chief Technology Officer of Opera Software.

He is best known for proposing[1] the concept of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) while working with Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1994.

Education and career[edit]

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.

While working with Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1994,[1] he proposed the concept of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). As an employee at W3C, he developed CSS into a W3C Recommendation with Bert Bos.[2] As a showcase and testbed, he integrated CSS into the Arena web browser.[2] CSS is one of the fundamental web standards, with profound impact on typography, aesthetics, and accessibility on the web.

Along with his work on the CSS specifications, Wium Lie has been an activist for standards in general. He challenged Microsoft to improve their support for standards in Internet Explorer and proposed the Acid2 test which was later developed and published by the Web Standards Project.[3][4] He has argued against the use of formatting objects and CSS Regions on the web.[5][6]

In 2006, Wium Lie started campaigning for browsers to support downloadable web fonts using common font formats.[7][8][9] As of 2011, all major browser vendors have implemented web fonts this way.[10] In 2007, Wium Lie started campaigning for the video element to make it easier to publish video on the web.[11][12]

Wium Lie has also promoted the concept of printing from the web.[13] His book on CSS, co-authored with Bert Bos, was produced from HTML and CSS files.[14][15] 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.[16]

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

  • In December 1996, he became known as the CSS1 W3C Recommendation editor.
  • In April 1999, he joined Opera Software.
  • In 2014, he proposed to use the two unused Norwegian TLDs (.sj and .bv) to create privacy-enhanced zones.[17][18]
  • In 2015, he was the CTO of the Kon-Tiki2 Expedition and sailed from Lima to Easter Island on a balsawood raft

In 2018, Wium Lie was sued by Lovdata for publishing Norwegian court decisions on rettspraksis.no, 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 has asked for changes in how Lovdata is organized.[19][20]

Personal life[edit]

Wium Lie lives in Oslo, Norway. There, he has started web-based campaigns against high-rise buildings[21] and advertising in the public space.[22] Wium Lie also maintains a woodworking studio and runs an organic farm.[23]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

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.[24]

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[25].

See also[edit]


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. ^ a b http://www.w3.org/People/howcome/p/cascade.html
  2. ^ a b Håkon Wium Lie; Bert Bos. "Chapter 20 - The CSS saga". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  3. ^ Opera to MS: Get real about interoperability, Mr Gates
  4. ^ Wium Lie's initial description of Acid2
  5. ^ Formatting Objects considered harmful
  6. ^ CSS Regions Considered Harmful
  7. ^ Microsoft's forgotten monopoly
  8. ^ Web fonts: the view from the free world
  9. ^ CSS @ Ten: The Next Big Thing
  10. ^ Samples at: Webfonts demo and test pages. for Prince, Safari, Opera 10 alpha, and a special build of Firefox. Retrieved 02-Aug-2009.
  11. ^ A call for video on the web
  12. ^ Håkon Wium Lie giving a Google Tech Talk on <video>
  13. ^ Håkon Wium Lie and Michael Day giving a Google Tech Talk on printing from the web on YouTube
  14. ^ Printing a Book with CSS: Boom!
  15. ^ A description of how the CSS book was produced from HTML and CSS into PDF
  16. ^ Opera brings fondleslab-style reading to bog-standard web
  17. ^ Håkon Wium Lie Net names for safe shelter, 31 July 2014, fetched Feb 25 2017
  18. ^ Stig Øyvann How two remote Arctic territories became the front line in the battle for internet privacy, 01 Oct 2014, fetched Feb 25 2017
  19. ^ Being Sued [1]
  20. ^ Norwegian court orders volunteers to take down public domain court verdicts and pay copyright troll's legal bills [2]
  21. ^ StoppBlokk campaign
  22. ^ Stans!no campaign against advertising in Oslo
  23. ^ "Håkon Wium Le", The Setup, October 7, 2014
  24. ^ "1999 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 1999. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeC26IO1WV8
  26. ^ Nielsen, Henrik Frystyk (7 June 2002). "Libwww Hackers". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 2 June 2010.

External links[edit]