Jean Paoli

Jean Paoli has been a leader in the SGML community since its early days; he was chief technologist at Grif S.A., for many years the leading European vendor of SGML authoring technology.

Well-connected to the European research establishment that was the birthplace of the WWW, he was aware of its importance before most people knew it existed.

He joined Microsoft in 1996 and, shortly thereafter, was a founding member of the XML effort. He deserves a very large part of the credit for waking Microsoft up to the importance of descriptive markup in general and XML in particular.

Jean's contributions to the XML WG debate got careful attention not only because of who he represented, but because he knows what he's talking about. He never actually did any editorial work on the XML specification; the appearance of his name in the list of editors achieved two important political goals:

  1. Helping ensure the acceptance of XML by getting Microsoft's name on the cover, and
  2. Defusing a political brouhaha that blew up shortly after I, after having served as a WG member and co-editor on a pro bono basis for some 8 months, signed a consulting contract with Netscape whereby I acted as their eyes, ears, and voice on the XML WG. Microsoft, unable to tolerate their competitor being in an apparently favored position, demanded (and temporarily got) my dismissal as co-editor. Jean's appointment was part of the bargain that restored me to the co-editorship. In fairness to Jean, it should be pointed out that he never asked for the posting, and rumor has it that he actively resisted it, but it was such an obviously good idea that it got quick consensus support.

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Copyright © 1998, Tim Bray. All rights reserved.