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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 2.44.0 (22 Apr 2020)

  • Added an ‘–unprep’ switch and formatter to undo changes made by ‘–prep’ which make a file unsuitable for continued editing. This will help the RPC when the .xml file received from draft authors for an upcoming RFC is in ‘prepped’ format.

  • Updated the v3 –expand formatter to expand external sourcecode and artwork, in addition to handling XIncludes. This should make it possible to produce single consolidated .xml files without using the –prep workaround.

  • Did some refactoring, moving the dispatch method that calls processing methods based on XPath expressions, and some other generic methods, into the V3 formatter base class.

  • Moved slugify() function, used in several writers, from v2v3 to

  • Did a minor CSS tweak to improve orphan/widow handling of <dl> elements.

Version 2.43.0 (14 Apr 2020)

  • Added a workaround for weasyprint’s extreme unwillingness to break between <dd> and <dt>, which looks like a bug. Fixes issue #514.

  • Fixed a discrepancy in address handling between text and html output. Fixes issue #509

  • Added more flexible text formatter handling of orphans and widows, and changed the default orphans/widows setting to 2 (matching the default CSS setting).

  • Changed the CSS to not page break before the ToC, support keepWithPrevious, and deal better with how some artwork, figures and tables break across pages. Fixes issue #511.

  • Changed the keepWithNext handling for the generated ToC to group the first 3 lines together, to avoid one-line orphans when page-breaking the ToC. Also fixed some pyflakes issues with regex strings.

  • Added text formatter support for ‘keepWithPrevious’, even if the preptool generally converts ‘keepWithPrevious’ to ‘keepWithNext’ on the previous element.

  • Added setting ‘.keepWithPrevious’ on html elements when set on the precursor xml element.

  • Added v2v3 converter code to set ‘keepWithNext’ and ‘keepWithPrevious’ when converting <preamble> and <postamble> elements to <t> elements, to keep the grouping.

  • Added code to the command-line runner to set some option default values that don’t have matchinb command-line switches.

  • Added default settings for orphans and widows during text rendering.

  • Reduced the CSS font-family for body to only Noto Serif. Addresses issue #500.

Version 2.42.0 (02 Apr 2020)

  • Changed the minimum whitespace distance between Updates/Obsoletes/etc. and Author/Organization in the document header in text rendering back to the value used in the v2 renderer (4 spaces) instead of the value used recently (3 spaces).

  • Added a guard against trying to normalize whitespace text that is None.

  • Added a guard against trying to create <iref> entries for reference content, avoiding a later exception. Fixes issue #501.

  • Changed the approach to avoiding page breaks inside artwork etc., and added styling to prevent page breaks between <dt> and <dd> in a <dl>. Fixes issues #461, #463, and #491

  • Did a variable name change and removed a ‘del’, to deal with a pyflakes issue under 2.7. Fixes issue #504.

  • Added missing keepWithNext support for PDF output.

  • Added a –v2 switch with the same meaning as –legacy.

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