SGML: Memory of Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

SGML: Memory of Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

[From:, a report on SGML '95, by Linda Burman, President of L. A. Burman Associates]

In memoriam: Yuri Rubinsky

"Yuri Rubinsky, president and co-founder of SoftQuad, Inc. and chair of the SGML conferences since 1988, died suddenly on January 21, 1996. Yuri's opening keynote address had become an institution of the SGML conferences. Every year, he and conference co-chair, Tommie Usdin, delivered the SGML Year in Review, a compendium of all of the SGML activities that had taken place throughout the world over the previous year. This year Yuri announced that he was retiring the Year in Review because there were just too many activities to be described in the time allotted, regardless of how fast the presenters attempted to speak. Instead, he titled his opening keynote "Where are we? How did we get here?"

As always, Yuri was thoughtful and insightful -- and entertaining. He commented that "despite the crowd at this event and the somewhat overwhelming presence of the world's largest SGML application, the World Wide Web, SGML doesn't feel . . . like Windows 95." He said he was finally convinced that the greater world is not going to use SGML for everything. Even though SGML has "infiltrated such an impressive list of higher echelons" and is in software sold by Microsoft and WordPerfect, it is not part of all of the software that those and other companies sell because using SGML for everything requires huge steps that many companies aren't willing to take. However, SGML has become a real tool, no longer the province of visionaries and engineers. It has been shown to work and indeed its HTML application has shown that it can succeed far beyond what anyone might have imagined SGML could do.Yuri concluded by saying that "SGML is now a rich part of the toolset we use to do our work."

It seems impossible that Yuri will not be at SGML '96. Charming, warm, funny, tireless in checking every detail of the conference, encouraging anyone who is taking even small steps along the road to an SGML implementation, always taking time to comment on a new idea or respond to a request for information or advice, Yuri Rubinsky will be sorely missed.

The world of SGML will go on -- partly because Yuri worked so hard to build its foundation. But it will never be quite the same.