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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 2.18.0 (06 Feb 2019)

This release provides additional support for <referencegroup> rendering, and and adds validation of fetched reference files before they are used or put in the reference cache. A warning for un-cited references was added to the preptool; this has been present for v2 renderers for a long time, but was absent from the v3 specification. A number of bugs have also been fixed. From the commit log:

  • Fixed an issue with the v3 html renderer when given an author without an address entry. Fixes issue #390.

  • Fixed a bug in the HTML renderer’s SVG reading exception code. Added support for a <referencegroup> target attribute, and suppression of target URLs for indivudual entries within a <referencegroup>.

  • Adjusted the text rendering of reference annotations to match the html rendering better. Added support for <referencegroup> target rendering. Suppressed rendering of target URLs for individual entries in a referencegroup.

  • Added a preptool check for reference citations, as earlier provided by v2 renderers. Made the reference section numbering code more general, to support additional levels in the future.

  • Added an attribute ‘target’ to <referencegroup>, in order to be able to link out to for instance IETF STD and BCP documents.

  • Added ValueError to the exceptions caught on ‘import weasyprint’ as a workaround for a problem in Python’s file under 3.7.

  • Added the Python version to the version list emitted with –version –verbose.

  • Added validation of included reference files before usage, to prevent html files fetched from dns-spoofing captive portals from being used.

Version 2.17.2 (28 Jan 2019)

  • Added a v3 text renderer for <referencegroup>, and made it possible to refer to a reference group anchor with <xref>.

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.

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