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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 2.45.2 (02 Jun 2020)

  • Fixed the HTML styling of <ul spacing=”compact”/> lists, which wasn’t really compact.

Version 2.45.1 (30 May 2020)

  • Changed the handling of hyphens in table cells, so as to introduce line breaks on hyphens if necessary to keep a table from becoming too wide (but not otherwise). The –table-hyphen-breaks switch can be used to permit line breaks on hyphens in table cells also for tables that would not otherwise become too wide.

  • Added a switch –table-hyphen-breaks that will make the text renderer more eager to break on hyphens in table cells.

  • Using a pilcrow on an otherwise empty element added unwanted vertical space in the HTML output; avoid this. Related to issue #508.

  • Added a parameter to TextSplitter to control whether text is split on hyphens or not.

Version 2.45.0 (27 May 2020)

  • Fixed the html rendering of <cref> with display=false. Fixes issue #516.

  • Fixed the text rendering of <cref> with display=false. Fixes issue #515.

  • Fixed an error in postal address rendering for Sweden. Fixes issue #520.

  • Changed the internals of the text formatter to retain <br> information for longer internally, in order to make <br> have effect in for instance <dd> and <td> element text. Fixes issues #508 and #513.

  • Fixed erroneous indentation of first line of second and following paragraphs of multi-paragraph <dd> elements, and changed code to retain <br> in filled text.

  • Added a font-family setting for @page in PDF mode, and added code to warn about missing Roboto Mono fonts if the python-fontconfig package is available

  • Added instructions for RobotoMono to the installation help for the –pdf switch.

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