Web Technologies

In 1992, the university I was an undergraduate at decided to give Internet access to any student who wanted it. Most universities at the time only allowed postgrads and faculty access. It was still dialup only, to an Ultrix box with 40MB RAM, but I was hooked: email, USENET, ftp, telnet, www, gopher—I was into it all. By 1994 I knew I need to specialize a little if I wanted to dive deep and so decided to immerse myself in the Web. I started lurking on the IETF working group for HTML and reading up on its SGML foundations. SGML was of particular interest to me as it was also relevant to my interest in corpus linguistics.

I was soon giving courses on HTML and ended up being asked to be the university's first webmaster. In early 1996, I was putting a lot of thought into how SGML could be better used on the web and, while an intern at Sun Labs, developed Delegating SGML Catalogs which I presented at an SGML Open meeting. There I met Jon Bosak who a little later invited me to join the SGML Working Group at the W3C to help work on the challenge of SGML for the Web. Although not part of the core team that developed the first XML spec, I was involved in a lot of education and evangelism around using XML. I started the first website dedicated to XML and started speaking at more and more conferences.

In 1998, I started teaching a class in Web Site Management to both undergraduates and postgraduates at Curtin Business School. It covered core technologies, information architecture and a lot of what would now be referred to as UX. I continued to speak at conferences, mostly about XML, often giving the introductory tutorial on the subject.

In 1999, I was hired by Bowstreet, a startup in New Hampshire focused on XML and Web Services. My primary job, especially in the early days, was conference speaking and standards committee participation. I was heavily involved in XML-related specifications but less so other areas, although I did contribute to harmonization of CSS and XSL-FO notions. I also wrote the first open source implementation of XSL-FO, which is now Apache FOP, and one of the first implementation of RDF and RDF Schemas in Python.

Since I left Bowstreet at the end of 2001, I haven't been as involved in web standards although I did participate in the Atom Protocol work at the IETF and did an implementation in Python. I wrote a Python web framework called Leonardo which came out of this site. I also started a Python port of PWT called Pyjamas. Since 2006, I've been a big user of Django and, in 2008, started the Pinax project which I'm still actively leading.

Other than Pinax and various open-source Django apps, I'm now primarily a user of web technologies, developing many websites through Eldarion. I use HTML, CSS, Javascript and jQuery on a daily basis but don't closely follow their development.