Brian Burg (he/him)

Seattle-based hacker, designer and researcher. I make tools that help people debug and test their programs more effectively. PhD '15 @ UW CSE; BS '10 @ Purdue CS.


#Gainful Employment

I currently work on web browsers at Apple. Since 2020, I am the lead engineer for Safari's web developer tools such as Web Inspector and WebDriver. In my role, I lead major efforts using a variety of skill sets: user research, prototyping, feature design, implementation, validation, testing, integration, maintenance, standardization, and documentation.

From 2016 to 2019, I added WebDriver support to Safari and MobileSafari. I planned and executed all aspects of the product: feature planning, development, bug fixing, testing, CI support, telemetry, bug triage/diagnostics, standards work, documentation, and partner outreach.

While working on WebDriver, I also took on other projects related to Web Inspector, including demoing at WWDC, adding telemetry and RTL support, writing unit test libraries, and representing Apple in the W3C Browser Tools & Testing Working Group.

#Dissertation Work

Deterministic replay is a fundamental enabling technology for advanced developer tools. My dissertation work investigates deterministic replay in the browser: how to capture and replay web applications; affordances for navigating to relevant program states; and debugging tools that use past program states to explain behavior.

Dolos is a modern, low-overhead deterministic replay infrastructure for capturing web application behavior. Dolos is being upstreamed into the WebKit project.

Timelapse is the first user interface for capturing and replaying web application executions directly from the browser's developer tools.

Probes enable a developer to add logging statements to a live or captured execution while it runs. Time-indexed outputs are a scheme for indexing and seeking playback to text outputs such as console logging.

Scry is a tool for understanding how and why a web application's visual output changes. Using Scry, a developer can peek at all operations on a DOM node and trace style and appearance changes back to specific JavaScript statements.

#Open Source

I am a reviewer on the WebKit project, with a focus on better tools for web developers and browser vendors. I began upstreaming Dolos and other parts of my dissertation while I was still earning my PhD.

Servo is an experimental browser written in Rust that explores new ways to parallelize, decompose, and secure a rendering engine for web content. I prototyped the current layout subsystem (block/inline/text layout), and worked on many other things.

# Other Projects

webkit-dashboard: a redesign of the WebKit test history dashboard, with better visual encodings, search and filtering features, and better performance.

glsl-simulator: an experimental simulator for WebGL Shader Language. Using the simulator, browser developer tools can implement standard debugging tools such as stepping through control flow, introspecting live state and adding logging.

jsprobes: an experiment in providing cross-platform browser instrumentation that's scriptable from JavaScript and distributable through the Firefox addon system.

C3: a research infrastructure for extensible, type-safe web browsers. I wrote a rendering engine for inlines, blocks, floats, and tables in C#.

#Academic Publications

Scry: Explaining Visual Changes in Web Interfaces.
Brian Burg, Amy J. Ko, Michael D. Ernst

Interactive Navigation of Captured Executions via Program Output.
Brian Burg, Katie Madonna, Amy J. Ko, Michael D. Ernst.

'War Stories' of Debugging.
Gregory L. Nelson, Brian Burg, Daniela Rosner.

Interactive record/replay for web application debugging.
Brian Burg, Richard Bailey, Amy J. Ko, Michael D. Ernst.

The eval that men do: a large-scale study of the use of eval in JavaScript applications.
Gregor Richards, Christian Hammer, Brian Burg, Jan Vitek

C3: An extensible, reconfigurable platform for HTML-based applications.
Benjamin S. Lerner, Brian Burg, Herman Venter, Wolfram Schulte.

An analysis of the dynamic behavior of JavaScript programs.
Gregor Richards, Sylvain Lebresne, Brian Burg, Jan Vitek.