Saxonica: About the company

About Saxonica

Saxonica was founded in 2004 by Michael Kay, developer of the Saxon product, to bring his open-source Saxon product to the commercial market. Moving Saxon into the commercial space both mitigated the risk associated with open-source software lacking a support infrastructure, and ensured continued investment in moving the technology forwards. This strategy has enabled Saxonica to provide quality products and services to both the commercial and open-source user communities.

For the early part of its history, the development of Saxon pioneered the ultimate in agile software development: the single-person team. For many years, the designer was the implementor. The most important result of this approach is that there are no messy compromises in the design. It's a high-risk approach to software development, but when it works, the result is an unprecedented level of productivity, responsiveness to new requirements, and software quality. The success of Saxon is sufficient proof that the approach can indeed work.

Saxonica is no longer a one person shop, but the team is deliberately kept small and tight, so that the integrity of the design can be maintained.

As of October 2023, ownership of Saxonica has moved into an Employee Ownership Trust. The Trustees are Norm Tovey-Walsh, Sue Schreiber, and Michael Kay. Their task is to appoint directors and approve any big decisions (such as acquisitions). When making such decisions the Trust is obliged to take into consideration the best interests of the staff and the user community, including both paying customers and open-source users. Indeed, there's a specific clause in the trust deed noting that the company's software is used to deliver open data for the wider benefit of society at large, and the Trustees are required to take this into account.

We are confident that through this adminstrative change, the company will retain the core values that have been central to our success: innovation, commitment to standards, outstanding technical support, honesty and integrity, admitting to our mistakes when we make them, and above all being active contributors to the thriving community without which we would not exist.

When Saxonica moved to an Employee Ownership Trust, Norm Tovey-Walsh became the chief executive, and he remains one of our senior engineers. Norm has spent more than twenty years developing commercial and open source software. He has also been an active participant in international standards efforts at both the W3C and OASIS contributing to the development of many specifications; XML, XSLT, XQuery, XProc, DocBook, and XML Catalogs among them.

Michael Kay, the developer of Saxon, is now Saxonica's Director of Innovation. He has over forty years' experience in the software industry, acting as lead designer on a succession of software projects, most of which involved large development teams. He held one of the most senior technical positions in ICL, a $4bn software and services company, now part of Fujitsu. His knowledge of XSLT and XQuery is second to none: he is the editor of the XSLT 2.0 and 3.0 specifications, a joint editor of XPath 2.0 and XPath 3.0, and an invited expert on the XQuery Working Group. He is also the author of the best-selling XSLT Programmer's Reference from Wrox Press, most recently published in its fourth edition, covering both XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0.

Saxonica has been able to preserve the unique characteristics that made Saxon so successful, notably the speed of development, the direct relationship between developer and user, and the quality of the product. At the same time, it has placed this on a commercial footing, enabling users of the technology to have confidence in its stability and its future.

Despite its small size, Saxonica today counts some of the world's largest companies among its customer base. Several of the world's biggest banks have enterprise licenses; publishers around the world use Saxon as a core part of their XML workflow; and many of the biggest names in the software industry package Saxon-EE as a component of the applications they distribute or the services they deploy on the cloud.

Company information

Saxonica is a Limited Company registered in England and Wales.

Company number:


VAT registration number:

GB 834 1810 45

Registered address:

c/o Assets Accounting, Chartered Accountants
Chiltern Chambers
37 St Peters Avenue
Reading RG4 7DH
Berkshire, UK


Michael H. Kay PhD FBCS and Norm Tovey-Walsh