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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 2.37.3 (22 Dec 2019)

  • Undid margin-left: 0 for <dd> from the original supplied CSS, which caused nested lists to not have any distinction between levels. Fixes issue #458.

  • Tweaked the margin of block elements within <aside>. Fixes issue #469.

  • Added <dt> and <li> to list of block elements. Fixes issue #453.

  • Treated pilcrows on sourcecode within figure the same way as artwork within figure (don’t add a pilcrow, since the figure title already provides an anchor). Fixes issue #475.

  • Don’t use both @seriesNo and <seriesInfo> to emit series number. Fixes issue #477.

  • Added code to adapt the line break position for long Updates: and Obsoletes: entries for long right-column entries. Fixes issue #472.

  • Added normalization before the comparison that determines if <xref> text content is different from derivedContent or not, and should be emitted in addition to the derivedContent. Fixes issue #466.

  • Fixed a case where simple derivedContent was used instead of fully rendered explicit <xref> text content where available. Fixes issue #474.

Version 2.37.2 (17 Dec 2019)

  • Refined the non-ascii punctuation (smart-quotes, etc.) downcoding, and eliminated a couple of bugs that could lead to infinite looping or crash. Fixes issue #473.

  • Made the xref labels used for different @section values work for additional value types.

  • Fixed a couple of preptool bugs found during debugging of issue #473.

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.

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