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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.


Installation of the python package is done as usual with ‘pip install xml2rfc’, using appropriate switches and/or sudo.

Installation of support libraries for the PDF-formatter

In order to generate PDFs, xml2rfc uses the WeasyPrint module, which depends on external libaries that must be installed as native packages on your platform, separately from the xml2rfc install.

First, install the Cairo, Pango, and GDK-PixBuf library files on your system. See installation instructions on the WeasyPrint Docs:

(Python 3 is not needed if your system Python is 2.7, though).

(On some OS X systems with System Integrity Protection active, you may need to create a symlink from your home directory to the library installation directory (often /opt/local/lib):

ln -s /opt/local/lib ~/lib

in order for weasyprint to find the installed cairo and pango libraries. Whether this is needed or not depends on whether you used macports or homebrew to install cairo and pango, and the homebrew / macport version.)

Next, install the pycairo and weasyprint python modules using pip. Depending on your system, you may need to use ‘sudo’ or install in user-specific directories, using the –user switch. On OS X in particular, you may also need to install a newer version of setuptools using –user before weasyprint can be installed. If you install with the –user switch, you may need to also set PYTHONPATH, e.g.,


for Python 2.7.

The basic pip commands (modify as needed according to the text above) are:

pip install ‘pycairo>=1.18’ ‘weasyprint<=0.42.3’

With these installed and available to xml2rfc, the –pdf switch will be enabled.

For PDF output, you also need to install the Noto font set. Download the full set from, and install as appropriate for your platform.


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

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

Run xml2rfc --help for a full listing of command-line options.


Version 2.17.1 (23 Jan 2019)

This release addresses a couple of issues with SCG rendering in HTML and PDF formats, pointed out by, and adds testing under Python 3.7:

  • Added code to add missing <svg> element attribute viewBox, and scale down large svg images for use in html and pdf renderings. Added an error case when the svg element doesn’t contain sufficient information (width and height, or viewBox) to do so. This improves the rendering in general, and in particular lets the PDF rendering show the full image, which was not always the case when viewBox was missing for a large image.

  • Added Python 3.7 to the tox test settings.

Version 2.17.0 (21 Jan 2019)

  • Added rudimentary support for ipr=”none”, in order to not shut out other standards bodies, such as the OpenID Foundation, that uses xml2rfc to produce documents. Idnits will make sure documents produced with ipr=”none” are not used in IETF submissions.

  • Updated docker/* files with additional packages, tweaks to permit docker builds to discard cache, and other minor changes.

  • Changed the url used to set xml:base in cached reference files to use the actual retrieval url, rather than the initially requested url, in order to correctly reflect redirects. Also added some related messages when running with –verbose.

  • Added a comment in v2v3 converted xml output giving the converter version, and made sure the root element always has a declaration of the XInclude namespace to make later insertion of <xi:include/> statements easy.

Version 2.16.3 (13 Jan 2019)

This release fixes a number of bugs in the v3 output formats, found thanks to review and testing done by the RFC Production Center (Alice, Sandy, and Megan). Thanks!

  • Added CSS styling to avoid page breaks inside dl entries (which implies not breaking a reference entry) and inside author address entries. Also added styling to avoid line breaks in reference URLs. This fixes a number of line- and page-break issues in the PDF output.

  • When rendering a reference, don’t run seriesInfo name and value together; separate with a space.

  • Added a missing colon to the Figure and Table captions when caption text has been specified.

  • Provided boilerplate templates as xml instead of as a text/plain blob internally, in order to make boilerplate URLs render as links in formats that supports it.

  • Added missing section numbers in the HTML output of reference sections.

  • Removed stripping of leading and trailing whitespace from <sourcecode> content.

  • Added ‘RFC NNNN: ‘ to the HTML document title for RFCs.

  • Added code to prevent line-breaking of reference tags containing dash in the text format.

  • Fixed rendering of author names in authors’ addressses section when the <address> element does not have a <postal> child element.

  • Fixed an issue with missing whitespace in text rendering of references with reference tags of length 9.

  • Fixed an issue where TLP version 4.0 was used instead of 5.0 used by preptool when inserting boilerplate text, causing the use of http:// instead of https:// URLs in modern document boilerplate.

  • Silenced some warnings that could occur during xml2rfc startup, triggered by pdf lib imports when the available external libs have old versions.

  • Fixed a bug in preptool.check_attribute_values(), and added code to strip leading and trailing whitespace for attribute values where whitespace is not meaningful. This will cause accidentally included leading and trailing whitespace to be accepted (with a comment during the preptool phase).

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