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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 2.46.0 (23 Jun 2020)

  • Added <dd class=’break’/> and <span class=’break’/> entries in additional places, as a workaround for WeasyPrint’s eagerness to break between <dt> and <dd>. Fixes issue #529.

  • Tweaked the rendering of <tt> inside table cells in text mode to not use double quotes to distinguish the <tt> content from surrounding text when the only cell content is the <tt> element.

  • Modified the text rendering of table cells. <thead> and <tfoot> now implies no special rendering (earlier, they caused a change in table border on transition) while <th> now always renders with distinct borders compared with <td>. Also added ‘light’, and ‘minimal’ table renderings, with different table border settings when compared to the previous rendering, which now is available as ‘full’. The ‘light’ rendering is closer to the v2 formatter table rendering, but does not permit table cells with colspan or rowspan different from 1 to be properly distinguished. The changes in <th> rendering fixes issue #527.

  • Added a –table-borders option with possible values ‘full’, ‘light’, ‘minimal’, to control the table rendering of the text renderer. The current default value is ‘full’, but ‘light’ is closer to the v2 text renderer’s output.

  • Added a new internal join/indent setting to the Joiner nametuple to control outdenting. Used the outdenting setting to enable outdenting for artwork wider than 69 characters in the v3 text renderer. Fixes issue #518.

  • Added missing support for @indent for <ul> in the HTML renderer, and tweaked the same for <ol>. Fixes issue #528.

  • Corrected is_htmlblock() to not count <dt>, <dd>, and <li> as block elements as they cannot be wrapped in <div>.

  • Updated and refined the div-wrapping used to introduce additional IDs to deal better with anchors on <dt>, <dd>, and <li>. Fixes issue #530.

  • Made the CSS setting of background colour on <tt> and <code> more selective in order not to interfere with background colour in tables, for instance.

  • Removed CSS that made URLs in references not break across lines – the drawbacks turn out to be more of a bother than the original reason not to let these wrap.

  • Did some HTML cleanup to make the validator happy.

  • Fixed a few places in the HTML renderer where an empty tag could cause an exception.

  • Added test cases for empty and double email addresses, and added support for multiple email addresses within an author’s address block. Fixes issue #522.

Version 2.45.3 (08 Jun 2020)

  • Fixed an issue with rendering empty <dd/> elements.

Version 2.45.2 (02 Jun 2020)

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

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