It’s nice when The Reg covers my speeches, but it raises an issue that I guess I’m going to have to address every year until I die. I am neither the father nor inventor of XML!

As I said on Slashdot years ago, “There were 11 other people on the committee and a couple hundred more in the discussion group. Geez.”

If XML has a father, that’d be Jon Bosak, who has now retreated to upstate New York, where he worries sensibly about Peak oil.

I put more work into XML than most, in particular co-editing the actual spec with Michael Sperberg-McQueen (he wrote 80%, I wrote 40% and was slasher-in-chief). Then for a while, I was XML’s unofficial Chief Marketing Officer, and that was great fun, but ended more or less as the last millennium did.

But every single person who served on the original Working Group (a dozen or so) and Interest Group has a fair claim to be “co-inventor of XML”, and that’s what I say when people ask me.

[This subject is kind of embarrassing, so I will probably reject all comments unless they’re really funny.]


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Ray Waldin (Nov 22 2008, at 15:00)

That will make for a clever epitaph someday.

"Here lies neither the father nor inventor of XML"


From: Hanan Cohen (Nov 22 2008, at 15:47)

"XML People" was a great post that is worth re-linking to.


From: Murray (Nov 22 2008, at 17:35)

You certainly have plausible deniability as inventor of XML but you could still be the father; my partner Lisa, my parents, Lisa's parents, our grandparents and great grandparents as far back as you like to look were all contributers to our daughters DNA but only I am her father... we would really need to find the mother of XML in order to clear this up. (If the mother of all XML proves to be OOXML you could be in trouble).


From: Michael (Nov 22 2008, at 19:22)

Well some folks aren't happy with the use of XML, thus they pick the easiest person to "stick it to" - the most vocal. Its also a very notable thing - its normal for reporters to pick on the most notable achievement in a career (or notorious).

Also, I think this joke may be apt:

"A Scottish old timer in Scotland, in a bar, talking to a young man.

The Old Man says, "Lad, look out there to the field. Do ya see that fence? Look how well it's built. I built that fence stone by stone with me own two hands. I piled it for months."

"But do they call me McGreggor-the-Fence-Builder? Nooo..."

Then the old man gestured at the bar. "Look here at the bar. Do ya see how smooth and just it is? I planed that surface down by me own achin' back. I carved that wood with me own hard labour, for eight days."

"But do they call me McGreggor-the-Bar-builder? Nooo..."

Then the old man points out the window. "Eh, Laddy, look out to sea...Do ya see that pier that stretches out as far as the eye can see? I built that pier with the sweat off me back. I nailed it board by board."

"But do they call me McGreggor-the-Pier-Builder? Nooo..."

Then the old man looks around nervously, trying to make sure no one is paying attention.

"But ya shag one goat..."


From: Eric Meyer (Nov 22 2008, at 19:33)

I don't have anything really funny to say, just wanted to say that I know what you mean: I'm often described as the father, godfather, author, etc. of CSS. (Jeffrey Zeldman gets this too, though less often.) All of these labels are demonstrably far less accurate than your being termed the father/inventor of XML-- at least you wrote large portions of the spec! I contributed one property, a few ideas, some author perspective, and a whole lot of evangelism, explanation, and other promotional work.

It's that last part that did it-- just a classic case of the public face being taken for the prime mover. That this effect makes us uncomfortable and annoyed says a lot about the kind of people we are, I guess.


From: John (Nov 22 2008, at 19:47)

Why can't married people who served on the original Working Group and Interest Group have a fair claim to be "co-inventor of XML"? I sense discrimination.

Probably not funny enough...


From: Tony Fisk (Nov 23 2008, at 04:16)

So, I'm applying for a position and am asked for a list of the blogs and references I have used for my professional development. I cite the works of Misters 'XML' and 'CSS', and they *both* promptly pop up and say 'it wasn't us!'

(So much for my credibility... thanks guys! I'll use Stephen Fry instead, except he'll probably now deny having anything to do with Oscar Wilde! ;-)


From: len (Nov 24 2008, at 08:47)

Have t-shirt made that says


and wear it to all of your speeches.


From: huxley (Dec 12 2008, at 22:06)

I'm not Spartacus!


author · Dad
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November 22, 2008
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