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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 2.34.0 (23 Oct 2019)

  • Made preptool reference sorting honour the sortRefs <rfc> attribute when symRefs is true.
  • Fixed an issue with v2v3 conversion of PIs to <xml> attributes, where PIs occuring before <rfc> would not be processed.
  • Fixed the v3 text output for authors with no organization to output blank lines, as for v2.
  • Changed the rendering of <xref> with section reference and text content, based on input from the RPC.
  • Fixed an issue with &nbsp; in section headers not being handled properly by PDF viewers, by using plain space instead of non-breaking space.
  • Fixed an issue with sizing of SVG artwork in PDF renderings.
  • Fixed a validation problem for an empty boilerplate element for ipr=’none’.
  • Added a <toc> entry in <rfc><front>, and moved table of contents XML from <boilerplate> to <toc>.
  • Fixed an issue with the use of seriesInfo for top first page of v3 text output.
  • Added support for a new attribute ‘brackets { “none” | “angle” }? for <eref>, on request from the RPC.
  • Changed the rendering of <dt><dd> so as to insert a newline if the <dt> entry extends too close to the right-hand margin.
  • Tweaked the removal of PIs during the preptool phase to occur before writing prepped content out to file, rather than earlier, in order to preserve PIs when prep() is used by xml2rfc internally.
  • Added a warning for SVG content that won’t scale.
  • Added ‘dd’ to is_htmlblock(). One effect of this is to let <dd> to be link targets for <xref> when generating HTML output.
  • Changed the schema for <postal> to a workable but less precise expression because the RFC7991bis generation scripts don’t support the RNG <interleave> construct.

Version 2.33.0 (16 Oct 2019)

  • Added an error message for a case that would otherwise break text table generation.
  • Added whitespace normalization for postal address tags, bcp14, and similar.
  • Fixed an issue with some special names like S/MIME in artwork.
  • Removed conditional insertion of <svg> width= and height=, leaving that up to the author.
  • Removed a page break restriction that could cause unwanted page breaks after reference section titles.
  • Fixed issues with added or omitted spaces in line-broken URLs and other items.
  • Updated metadata.js to a new version received from the RPC
  • Added conversion of some unicode code points to XML entities to the v2v3 converter, in order to make later editing easier.

Version 2.32.0 (04 Oct 2019)

  • Adjusted print font sizes, which were in some cases overly large.
  • Added CSS page-break settings to avoid PDF page breaks inside tables and references.
  • Tweaked the styling of <aside> to be more aligned with the W3C description of the element.
  • Added support for the –legacy-date-format when generating the boilerplate expiry date.
  • Fixed an issue with the text width in <aside> text rendering.
  • Improved the handling of U+2028 in text output, and fixed a bug in the handling of U+2028 in the HTML output.
  • Changed default value for –id-is-work-in-progress to True
  • Fixed an issue with incorrect section links to appendices.
  • Fixed a misspelling of “don’t”. Fixes issue #434.
  • Added styling to make HTML <dl> rendering of XML <ol type=’%d’> more like the HTML <ol> and <ul> rendering.

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