Winer, David

views updated


David Winer is the founder and CEO of User-Land Software, a Burlingame, California-based developer of Internet tools. A member of the World Wide Web Consortium's board of advisors, since 1998 Winer has worked with Microsoft Corp. to create a standard protocol for extensible markup language (XML), which many Internet experts believe will revolutionize the way computers communicate and the ways in which the Internet can be accessed by various devices. In 2000, Winer and Microsoft developed Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), a crucial component in Microsoft's plan, known as.Net, to connect all types of computing appliances to each other and to the Internet.

While a student at the University of Wisconsin during the 1970s, Winer began developing an outlining program for the Pascal programming language. In 1980, he moved to California, hoping to sell his program to Apple Computer Co. When Apple proved more interested in the database functions of the program than the outlining functions, Winer took his application to Personal Software, developer of the groundbreaking VisiCalc spreadsheet program. Personal Software hired Winer to work on a program called VisiText, which would be based on the software Winer had developed as a college student. The product never made it to market, but Winer left Personal Software with enough capital to found his own company, Living Videotext, in 1983. At the time, Winer's outlining applicationby then named Think-Tankhad begun to gain recognition as presentation software. ThinkTank 128, one of the first business software programs developed for the Macintosh computer, was launched in June of 1984. Two years later, Living Videotext shipped MORE 1.0, an enhanced version of ThinkTank that included an automated bullet chart feature. Winer sold his firm to Symantec Corp. the following year.

After taking some time off, Winer created his second company, UserLand Software, in November of 1988. One of the firm's first major products, the Frontier scripting environment and application server, was offered to Macintosh users in January of 1992. However, Apple's release of AppleScript overshadowed Frontier. Frustrated, Winer left UserLand in January of 1994. Later that year, he launched Dave-Net, an online newsletter that grew popular among technology professionals and later came to be known as a prime example of "blogging." According to an April 2001 article in Government Computer News, "Blogging, as it is sometimes called, entails posting one's thoughts, opinions, and other minutiae on the Web. Several pieces of downloadable software make this process almost too easyfor example, Dan Bricklin's free-on-the-Net Blogger, at, and UserLand Software Inc.'s Manila, at UserLand's founder, Dave Winer, is the master of the form." Winer also spent the mid-1990s working as a contributing editor for Hotwired.

Winer returned to UserLand in 1996 to spearhead the development of Frontier for Windows 95 and Windows NT, believing that a Windows-based version of the application would be well suited to Internet programming. In 1997, Winer was named a Seybold Fellow for his innovations in Web-based publishing. Winer shifted his firm's focus in 1998 to Web development. Frontier 5.1, compatible with both Windows and Macintosh platforms, was enhanced with several Web publishing capabilities including a Web server and an object-oriented database. Throughout 1999 and 2000, UserLand continued to evolve from a scripting software manufacturer into a maker of Web tools for writers, designers, and graphic artists. In 2001, Winer spearheaded the launch of Radio UserLand, a Web application server for desktop computers that includes Web-log and syndicated newsreader functions. He continues to work on Internet standards and Web publishing tools.


Colby, Clifford. "Frontier Heads to Windows." MacWEEK. September 9, 1996.

"Dave's Manila Playtown," 2001. Available from

Fink, R. "Spielberg He Ain't." Government Computer News. April 30, 2001.

Markoff, John. "Internet Critic Takes on Microsoft." The New York Times. April 9, 2001. Available from

Morgenstern, David. "Frontier Blazing Internet Trail." Mac-WEEK. June 29, 1998.

"Radio Userland Calling." May 3, 2001.

"Userland Software Inc." Inc. November 15, 2000.

SEE ALSO: Apple Computer Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Microsoft Windows; World Wide Web Consortium (W3C); XML