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Xml2rfc generates RFCs and IETF drafts from document source in XML according to the dtd in RFC2629.

Project description


The IETF uses a specific format for the standards and other documents it publishes as RFCs, and for the draft documents which are produced when developing documents for publications. There exists a number of different tools to facilitate the formatting of drafts and RFCs according to the existing rules, and this tool, xml2rfc, is one of them. It takes as input an xml file which contains the text and meta-information about author names etc., and transforms it into suitably formatted output. The input xml file should follow the DTD given in RFC2629 (or it’s inofficial successor).

The current incarnation of xml2rfc provides output in the following formats: Paginated and unpaginated ascii text, html, nroff, and expanded xml. Only the paginated text format is currently (January 2013) accepable as draft submissions to the IETF.


System Install

To install a system-wide version of xml2rfc, download and unpack the xml2rfc distribution package, then cd into the resulting package directory and run:

$ python install

Alternatively, if you have the ‘pip’ command (‘Pip Installs Packages’) installed, you can run pip to download and install the package:

$ pip install xml2rfc

User Install

If you want to perform a local installation for a specific user, you have a couple of options. You may use python’s default location of user site-packages by specifying the flag --user. These locations are:

  • UNIX: $HOME/.local/lib/python<ver>/site-packages

  • OSX: $HOME/Library/Python/<ver>/lib/python/site-packages

  • Windows: %APPDATA%/Python/Python<ver>/site-packages

You can additionally combine the flag --install-scripts with --user to specify a directory on your PATH to install the xml2rfc executable to. For example, the following command:

$ python install --user --install-scripts=$HOME/bin

will install the xml2rfc library and data to your local site-packages directory, and an executable python script xml2rfc to $HOME/bin.

Custom Install

The option --prefix allows you to specify the base path for all installation files. The script will exit with an error if your PYTHONPATH is not correctly configured to contain the library path the script tries to install to.

The command is used as follows:

$ python install --prefix=<path>

For further fine-tuning of the installation behavior, you can get a list of all available options by running:

$ python install --help


xml2rfc accepts a single XML document as input and outputs to one or more conversion formats.

Basic Usage: xml2rfc SOURCE [options] FORMATS...


The following parameters affect how xml2rfc behaves, however none are required.






purge the cache and exit



show the help message and exit



disable DTD validation step



don’t use the network to resolve references



dont print anything



print extra information



display the version number and exit



specify the base name for output files



specify an alternate cache directory to write to



run as if todays date is DATE (format: yyyy-mm-dd)

-d DTD


specify an alternate dtd file



specify an output filename


At least one but as many as all of the following output formats must be specified. The destination file will be created according to the argument given to –filename. If no argument was given, it will create the file(s) “output.format”. If no format is specified, xml2rfc will default to paginated text (--text).




outputs to a text file, unpaginated


outputs to a text file with proper page breaks


outputs to an nroff file


outputs to an html file


outputs to an XML file with all references expanded

xml2rfc draft.xml
xml2rfc draft.xml --dtd=alt.dtd --basename=draft-1.0 --text --nroff --html


xml2rfc depends on the following packages:


Version 2.11.1 (11 Oct 2018)

  • Changed linebreaking for URLs in boilerplate and references to the old behaviour (don’t break), added stream abbreviations according to RFC5741, and changed EMail: to Email: in RFC mode.

  • Added the align attribute for element <table> to the schema.

  • Changed the v2v3 converter handling of the table align attribute, and fixed an issue with lost whitespace after <spanx>.

  • Added STD to the seriesInfo sort order list.

  • Added an error message for <date> month content that is neither a month name or a number.

Version 2.11.0 (07 Oct 2018)

This release is a result of the issue discussions on xml2rfc-dev, and attempt to follow the discussion and projected resolution of issues #36-#40. This results in a number of incompatibilities with previous releases, with respect to the v3 tools, as expected. The v2 tools are unaffected. Details:

  • Changed the default table alignment to ‘center’, in order to match v2.

  • Changed the <dl> ‘hanging’ attribute name to ‘newline’, based on the discussion of issue #38, in the schema, v2v3 converter and text formatter.

  • Added an attribute ‘indent’ to <dl> in the schema, according to the discussion of issue #39. Added v2v3 and text support for the same.

  • Added markers=’true’ in the v2v3 converter for sourcecode with markers, and tweaked render_sourcecode() to honour the ‘markers’ setting.

  • Removed the disallowed align attribute on sourcecode.

  • Removed <br> from the schema, according to the resolution of issue #37.

  • Tweaked the handling of the document title to only reflow if needed, with some refactoring.

  • Corrected the handling of the align attribute on <artwork> and <figure>.

  • Changed <prepTime> to hold an RFC 3339 timestamp with seconds resolution.

  • Fixed a couple of issues with v2v3 conversion warnings, and added source line information for all elements created during conversion.

  • Fixed a buglet in sourcode rendering.

  • Added a warning about lxml versions that lack validation error xpath information, and tweaked the warn() method.

Version 2.10.3 (22 Sep 2018)

This bugfix release works around a problem with lxml versions before 3.8.0, and brings some other fixes and tweaks:

  • Tweaked validation output to not break if validation error log elements lack xpath information. Fixes issue #376. (lxml<3.8.0 does not provide the xpath of the offending element in error.path).

  • Fixed a couple of issues with v2v3 conversion warnings, and added element sourceline information for all elements created during conversion.

  • Fixed a buglet in sourcode rendering.

  • Added a warning about lxml versions that lack validation error xpath information, and tweaked the warn() method.

  • Tweaked the rendering of <eref>.

  • Added <blockquote> to the list of block level elements in isblock().

  • Added some values to xml2rfc.base.default_options, necessary when using xml2rfc as a library module (i.e., not getting options from through command-line invocation).

  • Added attribute markers=”true”|”false” to <sourcecode> and changed the v3 text formatter to only output code markers if <sourcecode> has attribute markers set to true.

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