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Profile of TIER Contributor Jim Fox, University of Washington

Posted on Feb 19, 2016 by Emily Eisbruch
Tags: Grouper, Shibboleth, TIER
Jim Fox

Jim Fox

The subject of this month's TIER Community Contributor Spotlight is University of Washington's Jim Fox.

After a lifetime of programming operating systems and applications (he remembers a time when you could open a memory door and see the bits), Jim's professional horizons were dramatically expanded in 1999 when RL "Bob" Morgan joined the University of Washington's Identity and Access Management group. Jim was introduced to Internet2, Shibboleth and Grouper, and has been enthusiastically involved in them ever since.

The university deployed a production Shibboleth Identity Provider years ago, when it was version 1.something, and this summer will see an upgrade to version 3.2.

"I really enjoy working with Shib 3," says Jim, "Most of our customizations that once required Java plugins can now be accomplished with simple configurations. I am generally wary of such wholesale rewriting of working code, but this one turned out very well."

The university operated its own group management service, but migrated to Grouper in 2010. As the university's existing API and UI are REST based, they are supported by an interface layer in front of Grouper. Jim hopes TIER will bring a REST API to Grouper.

In the past several years REST APIs have become ubiquitous at University of Washington. From his experience with both servers and clients Jim has grown to appreciate the power and flexibility of the REST architectural style. That it adapts so naturally and easily to messaging transport further affirms that belief.

To that end, Jim's hope for TIER is that it will support and encourage the REST style throughout the enterprise, allowing continuous, non-interruptive maintenance and replacement of component parts. "Our greatest challenges are upgrades to archaic, tightly coupled, monolithic systems."

In recent months, Jim has redoubled his contributions to Internet2 Trust and Identity work, remaining active on the Grouper developer calls and also becoming a regular contributor on the TIER Data Schema and API working group calls. A supporter of the RESTful approach to APIs, Jim is appreciated by his peers for consistently bringing a thoughtful and insightful perspective to the discussions and collaborative work.


Appreciation to Nathan Dors, Unviersity of Washington, for his help with this blog.