Liam Quin

Topic Overview

I’ve done a lot of specialist work, so it’d be unfair to expect any one person to be familiar with all the same areas and technologies. Here I’ve listed my experience in different areas and given a little description of what they are.

XML Technologies


The Extensible Style Language, Transformations (XSLT) language is a domain-specific language for transforming trees. Alarmingly for programmers, it uses an XML syntax, but is very powerful.

I’ve written XSLT professionally for clients as well as for employers and for my own use. I’ve also helped others learn it, and was a member of the W3C XSLT Working Group.


XML Query (XQuery) is a declarative functional language that extends XPath into a powerful data integration and querying language.

I represented W3C on the W3C XML Query Working Group from 2001 until it closed in 2018 and have expert knowledge of the language.


W3C XML Schema (XSD) is a large and complex language with an XML syntax; it’s used to constrain the grammar and contents of XML documents and also to provide a type system for languages such as XPath, XSLT and XQuery.

I represented W3C in the XSD 1.1 work. I’ve written book chapters about XML Schema and used it although no-one can master it and retain full sanity.


The XML Pipeline Language, XProc, is another language with an XML syntax, this time for connecting together XSLT, schema validation, XQuery, XInclude and other processing.

I've written pipelines and also manipulated them with XSLT. It turns out that XProc is a difficult language, but that once working the pipelines are fast and reliable.


The XSL Formatting Objects Specification (XSL-FO) provides a powerful way to format complex XML documents for print or to PDF using XML markup and CSS properties together with a lot of additional concepts.

I was staff contact for the XSL-FO Working Group and later chaired it, and also worked on editing version 2.0 of the specificaiton.

I also chaired a w3C Workshop on the future of print and XSL.

We ended the work on XSL-FO because it became clear to me that the future was in CSS for print.

Web Technologies


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a Member-funded organization that produces specifications for how they think the World Wide Web should work. The inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is the Director, and there are between fifty and one hundred full-time staff. The W3Chandles data formats that travel over the Internet using protocols defined jointly by the IETF and W3C.

I joined W3C as a full-time staff member in August 2001 and worked there for 17 years, managing the XML department, giving talks and helping groups of people produce specifications.


Cascading Style Sheets are how Web page designers and authors control the look of Web pages, including fonts and text size,colours and layout.

I’ve been a user of CSS since it was first supported, was at the first public meeting about CSS in 1995, and I’ve participated in the CSS Working Group for several years, most recently as a staff contact.


The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a loosely-organized collection of individual engineers split into Working Groups; These groups define the way the Internet itself works, the protocols that computers use to communicate with each other.

I was involved with the IETF as a Member of the Working Group that first defined a standard for HTML and also for my work in full-text retrieval with my lq-text software.


The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the text-based data format for sharing information onthe World Wide Web.

Work on HTML standards moved from the IETF to the W3C, where it was largely unsuccessful for a long time. My main involvement at W3C was facilitating a task force between the HTML and Accessibility groups. However, I’m also very familiar with HTML.


Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a markup-based representation (using an XML syntax) for diagrams that can be shown at any resolution and can be made accessible.

I was staff contact for the SVG Working Group at W3C in 2017 and 2018, and was also consulted by Working Group members for review of various features during the previous fifteen years.

In 2003 my own Web site featured extensive use of an SVG-based user interface and I’ve worked with the language heavily ever since.

Programming and Scripting

In 1989 I released lq-text, a text retrieval package I had written in C. It’s over 50,000 lines of code and is still one of the fastest text retrieval packages out there.

I’ve done a lot with Perl, because of my focus on text processing, and with the Unix shell because of work on systems integration. I first used Unix in 1981 and never looked back!

I released a game that I wrote in PostScript for the Sun NeWS Windowing System once; I've written thousands upon thousands of lines of Scheme (a LISP derivative), worked on the source for the Unix troff command, have ported software and fixed bugs, and yes, I still use the vi editor. Along with Oxygen for XML work: use tools that are appropriate.

About Liam

I have a background in computer science but with a strong interest in graphic design. I tend to have an overall view of a wide range of areas in technology and design as well as deep knowledge in XML and text processing.

I do consulting, including XSLT and XQuery programming, document analysis and DTD development, architecture and strategy, document conversion, XML and HTML to print with XSL-FO or CSS, and more besides.

I also run a small stock image firm, FromOldBooks.Org, which is unusual in that it includes ot only vintage art scanned from old books but also extracts from the books themselves to place the images in context.

Blockchain and Credentials

Verifiable Claims

The Verifiable Claims data model builds on Distributed Identifiers (DIDs) and on Blockchain infrastructures to put people in charge of their own trusted credentials.

I was W3C staff contact for the VC Working Group.


Distributed Identifiers (DIDs) use blockchain and Web technologies to let anyone create a pointer to information.

The W3C Credentials Community Group works on the DID spec; DIDs are part of the underpinnings for Verifiable Credentials, a spec produced by the W3C VC Working Group.

I wrote an official W3C blog entry about the technology.

Libre and Open Software


lq-text is a fast, free, open source text retriveal package written in C, primarily for Unix and Linx systems. It was first released (on Usenet) in 1989.

In 1988 at Unixsys (UK) Ltd we had a potential client who wanted text retrieval but existing commercial packages were too expensive, so I wrote package to meet their needs, nx/text. I was permitted to make this open source and worked on it extensively for several years. Did I mention that it’s fast?


I'm a member of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) team and also speak at conferences such as LibreGraphicsMeeting.

I use GIMP to edit images for sale on my microstock Web site, as well as for personal photography. These days its very suitable for professional work.

Graphic Design

Book Design

I designed (layout, typography) the book that the late Yuri Rubinksy started and Murray Maloney finished, Sgml on the Web: Small Steps Beyond HTML.

The book won praise for its readability.


The practice of fine writing, for example with a broad-edged pen.

My calligraphy has been featured on the front cover of Time magazine. Hey, if you can’t say this stuff in your CV whats the use?

This CV

I made this CV from scratch in a text editor (vi).

This CV

The design was inspired in part by work that Jen Simmons and her design work.

I used the Alegreya font by Juan Pablo del Peral to give a slightly informal calligraphic feel.