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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 2.37.1 (12 Dec 2019)

  • Fixed a bug in the text formatter pagination code where it incorrectly tried to annotate Comment and PI nodes with page number information.
  • Updated the v2v3 converter to do essentially what it did before v2.37 with respect to unicode downcoding, but with more explicit calls.
  • Added a base writer method to downcode reference punctuation.
  • Moved the list of (tag, attr) combinations that permit unicode values into util.unicode. Rewrote docwncode_punctuation() to only touch punctuation.
  • Restored lost trailing text after <contact> in <t> context for text output.

Version 2.37.0 (10 Dec 2019)

  • Added a new element <contact> with the same attributes and child elements as <author>, except for @role. As a child element of <section> it will create a name and address block, as for authors in the Authors’ Addresses section; as a child of <t> it will create an inline name entry, similar to <author> in citations.
  • Changed the handling of block elements within table cells to re-wrap for better column fit. Fixes issue #454.
  • Added an error for references without anchor (in v2; in v3 this will be caught by the schema validation step). Fixes issue #412.
  • Changed error handling in a couple of places so as to result in non-zero command-line exit values on errors. Fixes issue #464.
  • Tweaked the <cref> text renderer to not apply <t> paragraph filling to the <cref> content. Fixes an issue raised by
  • Changed layout of multiple instances of <extaddr> and <street> to show on separate lines instead of one line, comma-separated. Changed one notice message to warning.
  • Added an option to silence warnings and notices starting with given strings.
  • Changed the HTML renderer to not emit email information in both primary and alternative author address blocks.
  • Added a test case using the new <contact> element, and added a couple of email addresses for increased coverage of email address placement when non-ascii address information is present.
  • Updated the handling of non-latin address information in the text format to follow RFC7997 and the HTML output more closely.
  • Added generation of v3.rng from v3.rnc to the Makefile, and fixed a schema error in the .rng file
  • Changed the default content downcoding done for things like ‘smart quotes’ to only apply to text content, not to XML element attributes.

Version 2.36.0 (02 Dec 2019)

  • Improved support for internal xref to <li>, giving ‘Section X, Paragraph Y, Item Z’. Tweaked the output for xrefs to <li> with format=’counter’ to not include trailing period.
  • Stripped away some cases of leading punctuation on incomplete postal address lines.
  • Fixed an issue with multi-part <ol> lists with the same group setting.
  • Added support for tables in list items, on request from the RPC, in order to match the needs of a couple of recent RFCs-to-be.
  • Improved output format handling of postal addresses for countries with non-latin scripts where the XML address content is ASCII, rather than the expected native script.
  • Fixed the isempty() utility function to correctly return False for elements containing comments with trailing text. Fixes issue #455.
  • Added some cases of normalization of postal code during v2v3 conversion.
  • Added bottom margin space for artwork in print output, to match that for sourcecode.

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