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Xml2rfc generates RFCs and IETF drafts from document source in XML according to the IETF xml2rfc v2 and v3 vocabularies.

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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 grammars in RFC7749 (for v2 documents) or RFC7991 (for v3 documents). Note that the grammar for v3 is still being refined, and changes will eventually be captured in the bis draft for 7991. Changes not yet captured can be seen in the xml2rfc source v3.rng.

xml2rfc provides a variety of output formats. See the command line help for a full list of formats. It also provides conversion from v2 to v3, and can run the preptool on its input.


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 2.21.1 (11 Mar 2019)

This is a bugfix release, containing a number of fixes and adjustments in response to issues reported by the RFC Editor staff. Excerpt from the commit log:

  • Fixed an incorrect <u> format in a test file.

  • Broadened the handling of <svg> viewBox attribute values, to permit commas and enclosing parentheses.

  • Added some missing default_options settings. Moved the calculation of various element tag sets (inline tags, for instance) out of the BaseV3Writer class to avoid doing the same thing repeatedly when not necessary.

  • Fixed a flawed check for the presence of at least one required element in the <u> format specification.

  • Added a z-index setting to avoid links being overlaid by h* padding stretching up over previous elements.

  • Added a new option –no-pagination, and a startup check for missing default options.

Version 2.21.0 (04 Mar 2019)

This release introduces the switch –no-org-info to control the display of author organization information on the front page, for vocabulary v2 documents, and the <organization> attribute “showOnFrontPage” to do the same for v3 documents. The handling is different for the two in order to avoid retrofitting new attributes to the v2 DTD. From the commit log:

  • Added support for a –no-org-info switch, to suppress organization rendering on the first page for v2 renderers.

  • Added support for the showOnFrontPage attribute to v3 renderers, and a test case for the showOnFrontPage attribute.

  • Added <organization> attribute “showOnFirstPage” (default “true”) to the schema.

Version 2.20.1 (27 Feb 2019)

  • Handle initials==Null return value from short_author_name_parts(). Fixes issue #397

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