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

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 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 2.28.0 (15 Sep 2019)

  • Fixed the handling of empty <workgroup> entries when writing HTML, and added handling for multiple <workgroup> entries for text output. Fixes issue #425.

  • Fixed an inconsistency in the handling of non-ASCII author initials.

  • Added some XML cleanup before writing prepped output.

  • Fixed a case where for instance ‘Section b.2’ would be emitted instead of the correct ‘Appendix B.2’

  • Changed the restricted right margin for <dt> terms.

  • Added a check for conflicting schema information for v3 input files, and fixed a failure to heed the presence of preptool errors when genreating v3 format outputs.

  • Adjusted the library call default value for –legacy-date-format to match the command line setting.

  • Added a script to minify javascript (through an external service), and added a javascript minification step to the Makefile.

  • Added a html <div> for external metadata, and updated metadata.js to look for online metadata also for documents served from disk.

  • Fixed a problem with authors without any name, with only organization information present.

Version 2.27.1 (10 Sep 2019)

  • Refined the preptool code that inserts reference target URLs to use an more appropriate guess at the extension, depending on the base URL.

  • Corrected a mismatch between the default value for a switch in and

  • Changed the code for the –id-is-work-in-progress to avoid duplicate <refcontent> insertion.

Version 2.27.0 (09 Sep 2019)

  • Added a test for handling of &wj; and &nbsp; during text linebreaking.

  • Corrected the line break handling for &wj; and &zwsp; and changed to using a unicode private use code for internal “don’t break” handling, in order to make use of &wj; possible in the XML source input.

  • Added country name aliases for South Korea.

  • In text renderer: Reverted ‘Internet Draft’ to ‘Internet-Draft’ for series name rendering. Stripped empty parts from Updates: and Obsoletes: lists. Added removal of U+2060 (word joiner) before emitting rendered text.

  • Adjusted the preptool inserted reference target value for Internet-Drafts to include a trailing ‘.txt’ to avoid 404s

  • Added U+2060 (word joiner) to the list of code points that should not trigger non-ASCII warnings

  • Added an –id-is-work-in-progress switch to let the RPC automatically add a <refcontent> element indicating “Work in Progress” for Internet-Drafts.

  • In HTML output, removed blank items from Updates and Obsoletes lists, and reverted ‘Internet Draft’ in reference rendering to ‘Internet-Draft’.

  • Added entity definitions for &wj; and &zwsp;

  • Fixed pyflakes issue; a variable name mismatch.

  • Updated the installation instructions emitted when –pdf is specified without having the necessary libraries in place to also include instructions for Noto font installation.

  • Fixed an issue with the ToC generation where sections without numbers might still be rendered with the whitespace intended to go between number and section title.

  • Fixed an issue with the HTML ToC where sections without numbers might still be rendered with the whitespace intended to go between number and section title.

  • Removed pilcrows from print layout to avoid spurious extra lines for paragraphs where the pilcrow would not fit at the end of the last line.

  • Fixed an insufficient test for URL vs. local file when handling the –metadata-js-url switch.

  • Tweaked the CSS for print to avoid reference entries beginning on a new line, below the reference tag.

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