Sun snatches up XML guru

Sun snatches up XML guru

Sun Microsystems has hired one of the creators of XML (Extensible Markup Language), Tim Bray, to help set the technical direction for its software group.

Bray, who begins work for the computer maker on Monday as a technology director, will report to the chief technology officer of Sun's software group, John Fowler.

Bray, who is 48, was one of the three editors of the XML 1.0 specification and the author of the first "parser" software designed to read XML documents and divide them into different components. Until recently, Bray served as chief technology officer for the visualisation software company he founded in 1999, Antarctica Systems.

XML is used to describe the contents of documents on the Internet and is seen as the "lingua franca" of business-to-business online commerce.

With his new position, Bray will help set Sun's future direction with respect to Web services and search technology. "I'm not immediately diving into product development," he said. "They want me there as a forward thinking person."

Sun has made XML and Web services an important part of its Java software strategy as it tries to compete for the hearts and minds of software developers against Microsoft's .Net.

One of the areas Bray expects to work on is developing new applications for Web logs, or "blogs," and the RSS (Resource Description Framework Site Summary) technology that grew out of them. "I think that this is potentially a game-changer in some respects, and there are quite a few folks at Sun who share that opinion," he said.

Though RSS is traditionally thought of as a Web publishing tool, it could be used for much more than keeping track of the latest posts to blogs and Web sites, Bray said. "I would like to have an RSS feed to my bank account, my credit card, and my stock portfolio," he said.

"Anybody who has gone very far into this is starting to get very excited," he said of the RSS phenomenon. "It's starting to feel like 1992 or 1993, when this Web thing was starting to stick its head out."

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