XML Guru Speaks Out on New Role at Sun

In an eWEEK.com interview, XML co-author Tim Bray discusses his new role as technical director of Sun's software group.

Extensible Markup Language co-author Tim Bray has joined Sun Microsystems Inc. as technical director of the companys software group, reporting to Sun Software Chief Technology Officer John Fowler. Just a week after Sun Software chief Jonathan Schwartz revealed Suns move toward RSS(Really Simple Syndication), Bray discussed his charter at the intersection of RSS, XML and advanced search with eWEEK.coms Steve Gillmor.

What are your responsibilities and goals?

To a large extent, thats to be determined. Sun is real interested in a lot of the same things that I am. If you look at where things are going in the area of search and XML and RSS, you kind of smell a bit of a nexus happening in there with lots of exciting things coming out of it, and not just Jon but some other Sun VIPs are pretty hot on this stuff. And clearly this is a space that I come from. Im deliberately being a little bit vague, but if you look at my background, its fairly obvious the kind of things that Ive worked on over the years. If you look at Jons offices mandate, its very general, and the fact that I have a fairly broad spectrum of interests and experience was of interest to them.

Do you share the view that RSS represents a great opportunity for a new rich client center of the desktop?

I tend to be more of a server back-end kind of guy, and Im interested in the information flows. Now clearly, any modern desktop that doesnt include tools both for aggregating and writing logs and syndication feeds isnt as good as it could be. So clearly theres work there—but Im also interested in the back end. Im good friends with Dave Sifry over at Technorati, and there are a lot of potentially game-changing things coming down the pipe, and I dont think anybodys quite smart enough to see exactly what they all are at this point. But its a space that you want to be in and watch like a hawk and make sure youre doing the right things. I think youre one of the leaders on this, Steve, and Im preaching to the choir here.

One of the things Dave Sifry and I have been working on is the notion of attention …

Absolutely. I think thats potentially super hot stuff.

How do you think that would vector with what Sun is interested in doing?

I think Sun is in the early stages. Sun is already publishing a bunch of RSS feeds, and theres a lot more work that remains to be done on those RSS feeds. I cant sit here and say, "Yeah, attention is the way that were jumping," but the fact that theyre bringing me on board is an indication that were going to be taking this area really seriously and putting some cycles on figuring out what the right way to jump is.

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