The Contributional Tim Bray

Tim Bray

"For many years before the Web there were many different ways of publishing information. There were many different ways of doing hypertext”

- Tim Bray

As Apple goes on the offensive against Android, it risks alienating more and more developers. Today, another prominent developer chose the opposing side. Tim Bray, a well-known software architect and tech blogger, is joining Google to help rally even more developers around the Android open-source mobile operating system.

Tim Bray is the co-inventor of the XML Web standard, and most recently worked at Sun Microsystems. In a blog post, he explains that he is drawn to Google because of the issues on Apple's closed and controlled environment from a developer’s perspective.

Early Life

Timothy William Bray was born on June 21st, 1955, in Alberta, Canada. He grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science.

After graduating university, Bray joined Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in Toronto as a software specialist. In 1983, Bray left DEC for Microtel Pacific Research. He joined the New Oxford English Dictionary project at the University of Waterloo in 1987 as a manager. It was during this time Bray worked with SGML, a technology that would later become central to both Open Text Corporation and his XML and Atom standardization work.

In June 2009, Bray received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Guelph.


During 1989-1990, Tim Bray served as the part-time CEO of Waterloo Maple Inc.. Waterloo Maple is the developer of the popular Maple mathematical software.

Bray left the new OED project in 1989 to co-found Open Text Corporation with two of his colleagues. Open Text commercialized the search engine employed in the new OED project. In 1995, Open Text released the Open Text Index, one of the first popular commercial web search engines. Open Text Corporation is now publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol OTEX. From 1991 until 1996, Tim held the position of Senior Vice President.

Between 1996 and 1999, Bray, as an Invited Expert at the World Wide Web Consortium, co-edited the XML and XML namespace specifications. While working through the project, Bray accepted a consulting engagement with Netscape, provoking protests from Netscape competitor Microsoft who had supported the initial moves to bring SGML to the web.

When Bray was temporarily asked to resign the editorship, an intense dispute revolved in the Working Group. This was eventually solved by the appointment of Microsoft's Jean Paoli as third co-editor.

Along with his wife Dr. Lauren Wood, Tim Bray ran Textuality, a successful consulting practice in the field of web and publishing technology. He was contracted by Netscape in 1999, along with Ramanathan V. Guha, in part to create a new version of Meta Content Framework called Resource Description Framework (RDF), which used the XML language.

Later that year, Bray founded Antarctica Systems, a company based in Vancouver, Canada, that specializes in visualization-based business analytics.

In 2001, Tim Bray wrote an article called Taxi to the Future for which proposed a means to improve web client user experience and web server system performance via a Transform-Aggregate-send XML-Interact architecture. This proposed system is very similar to the Ajax paradigm which was popularized in 2008 and 2009.

Between 2001 and 2004 he served as a Tim Berners-Lee appointee to the W3C Technical Architecture Group.

Bray was co-chairing, with Paul Hoffman, the Atom-focused Atompub Working Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force until October 2007. Atom is a web syndication format developed to address perceived deficiencies with the RSS 2.0 format.

Bray has written many software applications, including Bonnie which was the inspiration for Bonnie++, a Unix file system benchmarking tool aimed at performing a number of simple tests of hard drive and file system performance, Lark, the first XML Processor, and APE the Atom Protocol Exerciser.

Bray was Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems from early 2004 to early 2010. Since then he has served as a Developer Advocate at Google, focusing on Android. In February, Google stated that it is selling 60,000 Android handsets a day while Apple confirmed 97,000 units. Android is making steady gains in market share against Apple which Bray described it as a horse race.

Bray’s decision to join Android is just the latest example of a growing backlash among developers to Apple’s autocratic ways. Specifically, Bray likes Android's developer-friendliness, its full suite of interfaces, its open-source nature, its strong Google backing, its open market, and its strong competition to the Apple's iPhone.