Henrik Frystyk Nielsen – Pioneer of the World Wide Web


Henrik Frystyk Nielsen is a widely respected computer scientist and engineer. He is renowned for his influential work on the World Wide Web along with other achievements regarding computer protocols.

Henrik was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 1st 1969. Nielsen attended Aalborg University is his home country of Denmark receiving his Masters Degree in Engineering of Telecommunications, August 1994.

After attending university, Nielsen was named Tim Berners-Lee’s first graduate student at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research). Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, created the World Wide Web along with Robert Cailliau, between 1989 and 1990. Nielsen worked in the same office as Norwegian Håkon Wium Lie, another web pioneer best known for proposing the concept of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Together they developed the Arena web browser, an early test-bed web browser and web authoring tool for the Unix computer operating system. Arena was widely used and very popular at the beginning of the World Wide Web. At this time, Nielsen was working closely with Berners-Lee and also began working with one of the principal authors of the HTTP specification, Roy Fielding.


In 1994, Nielsen was asked to join the technical staff of the newly formed World Wide Web Consortium or W3C, by Berners-Lee. Nielsen decided to join the staff of W3C in March 1995. He then continued with his work on HTTP and other web protocol topics such as Line Mode Browser; the second web browser ever created and libwww; a highly modular client-side web API for Unix and Windows.


Nielsen was one of the leading authors of the HTTP specifications released in 1996, later over-seeing the progress of HTTP 1.1, known as the “next generation” and released in 1999. In July 1999, he left W3C and within the next month joined the staff at Microsoft. This is where Nielsen began work on SOAP 1.1, a protocol specification for exchanging information in the implementation of web services in computer networks. Along with Noah Mendelsohn and others, Nielsen helped it develop from an XML-based object serialisation protocol, to a lightweight message orientated protocol for exchanging semi-structured information in a highly decentralised environment.


Nielsen became the editor of the W3C XML Protocol Working Group in 2000, which over time evolved into SOAP 1.2. Three years later, Nielsen started a new project with fellow computer scientist, George Chrysanthakopoulos. Their project focused on carrying out a new web-orientated application model, along with an associated programming model that could be suitable for highly concurrent and distributed environments. A product of the incubation is DSSP, a SOAP-based protocol that augments the web and HTTP model with analytical data handling and event announcements.


Around late 2005, the incubation developed into productization as both Chrysanthakopoulos and Nielsen enlisted in the recently formed Microsoft Robotics Group. The original version of the Microsoft Robotics Studio was available for public use in June 2006.


At present, Nielsen works at Microsoft as the Principal Architect for the Windows Communication Foundation team. Nielsen has his own blog – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/henrikn/ and can also be found on Twitter – https://twitter.com/frystyk. He currently lives with his wife Janet and his two children in Seattle, USA.



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