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Re: Father of XML?
- From: Ron Schmelzer <email@example.com>
- To: Michael Fitzgerald <firstname.lastname@example.org>, xml-dev <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2001 08:47:13 -0400
In Jon Bosak's own words (excerpted from ZapThink's Pros and Cons of XML
"Like many of my colleagues in industry, I had learned the hard way that
nothing substantially less powerful than SGML was going to work over the
long run. So from the very earliest days of the World Wide Web Consortium,
there was a small group of us who kept saying, "You have to put SGML on the
web. HTML just won't work for the kinds of things we've been doing in
Now, the people in charge of the W3C were far from ignorant about SGML. Dan
Connolly, in particular, saw very early the need to standardize HTML itself
as a proper SGML language, and by the beginning of 1996, he had created a
placeholder for some future SGML work within the W3C. But W3C didn't have
the resources to pursue this direction, and outside of the few of us who had
already been through the development of large-scale electronic publishing
systems, no one else really understood the problem.
I had been pestering W3C about SGML and about DSSSL, the SGML stylesheet
language, right from the beginning, while I was still working at Novell, and
I kept this up after I went to work for Sun. Finally, in early May of 1996,
Dan challenged me to put Sun's money where my mouth was -- to organize and
lead a W3C working group to put SGML on the web. This was an unprecedented
offer, because up until then, all W3C working groups had been organized and
run by W3C staff. Dan's willingness to go beyond established practice was
the first key development in the process that led to XML.
Dan's offer came just as I was beginning a three-week series of WWW, SGML,
and ISO conferences in Europe. This tour put me in touch with just about
everyone I needed to talk to about the idea, and by the time I got back
home, I had managed to recruit some of the world's leading SGML experts for
the "Web SGML" initiative and had secured funding from my management at
Solaris Global Engineering and Information Services to carry out the work.
This was the second critical turn in the path to XML. Many people know that
XML grew out of the expertise of the SGML community, but few people realize
even today that the whole two-year effort to develop XML was organized, led,
and underwritten by Sun.
It was obvious from the beginning of what was originally called the Web SGML
Activity (the name XML was suggested by our technical lead, SGML/DSSSL guru
James Clark, several months later) that it would need the support of at
least one of the two major vendors of web browsers. In June of 1996 I
succeeded in persuading Jean Paoli of Microsoft to join the working group.
This turned out to be especially important, because in addition to his SGML
expertise, Jean was eventually able to convince Microsoft to adopt the
The basic design of XML was accomplished in eleven weeks of feverish
activity under the guidance of editors Tim Bray and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen.
The work started in the last few days of August 1996, and ended with the
release of the first XML draft at the SGML '96 conference in November. While
it took another year to finish working out all the details, virtually every
basic feature of XML as we know it today was specified in that first
published draft. This remarkable achievement is a tribute to the team spirit
and world-class expertise of the original design group. I am proud to have
had the honor of leading this group and proud of my management at Sun for
having had the vision to underwrite the effort. "
In Charles Goldfarb's own words from "The XML Handbook" by Charles F.
Goldfarb and Paul Prescod (ok, so this may be self serving, but serves as a
good reference point.)
Preface, Page xli:
"I invented SGML, I'm proud of it, and I'm awed that such a staggering
volume of the world's mission-critical information is represented in it.
I'm also proud of XML. I'm proud of my friend Jon Bosak who made it happen,
and I'm excited that the World Wide Web is becoming XML-based."
XML Industry Analysts
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Fitzgerald" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "xml-dev" <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2001 8:41 PM
Subject: Father of XML?
> I got flyer in the mail from SYS-CON. On the cover, it claims that Charles
> Goldfarb is the "father of XML." With all due respect to Mr. Goldfarb, I
> read last year that Jon Bosak was bequethed that title. Who gets the
> Is that a fair question or should I head for cover now?
> Wy'east Communications http://www.wyeast.net
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