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Xml2rfc generates RFCs and IETF drafts from document source in XML according to the dtd in RFC2629.

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 DTD given in RFC2629 (or it’s inofficial successor).

The current incarnation of xml2rfc provides output in the following formats: Paginated and unpaginated ascii text, html, nroff, and expanded xml. Only the paginated text format is currently (January 2013) accepable as draft submissions to the IETF.


System Install

To install a system-wide version of xml2rfc, download and unpack the xml2rfc distribution package, then cd into the resulting package directory and run:

$ python install

Alternatively, if you have the ‘pip’ command (‘Pip Installs Packages’) installed, you can run pip to download and install the package:

$ pip install xml2rfc

User Install

If you want to perform a local installation for a specific user, you have a couple of options. You may use python’s default location of user site-packages by specifying the flag --user. These locations are:

  • UNIX: $HOME/.local/lib/python<ver>/site-packages

  • OSX: $HOME/Library/Python/<ver>/lib/python/site-packages

  • Windows: %APPDATA%/Python/Python<ver>/site-packages

You can additionally combine the flag --install-scripts with --user to specify a directory on your PATH to install the xml2rfc executable to. For example, the following command:

$ python install --user --install-scripts=$HOME/bin

will install the xml2rfc library and data to your local site-packages directory, and an executable python script xml2rfc to $HOME/bin.

Custom Install

The option --prefix allows you to specify the base path for all installation files. The script will exit with an error if your PYTHONPATH is not correctly configured to contain the library path the script tries to install to.

The command is used as follows:

$ python install --prefix=<path>

For further fine-tuning of the installation behavior, you can get a list of all available options by running:

$ python install --help


xml2rfc accepts a single XML document as input and outputs to one or more conversion formats.

Basic Usage: xml2rfc SOURCE [options] FORMATS...


The following parameters affect how xml2rfc behaves, however none are required.






purge the cache and exit



show the help message and exit



disable DTD validation step



don’t use the network to resolve references



dont print anything



print extra information



display the version number and exit



specify the base name for output files



specify an alternate cache directory to write to



run as if todays date is DATE (format: yyyy-mm-dd)

-d DTD


specify an alternate dtd file



specify an output filename


At least one but as many as all of the following output formats must be specified. The destination file will be created according to the argument given to –filename. If no argument was given, it will create the file(s) “output.format”. If no format is specified, xml2rfc will default to paginated text (--text).




outputs to a text file, unpaginated


outputs to a text file with proper page breaks


outputs to an nroff file


outputs to an html file


outputs to an XML file with all references expanded

xml2rfc draft.xml
xml2rfc draft.xml --dtd=alt.dtd --basename=draft-1.0 --text --nroff --html


xml2rfc depends on the following packages:


Version 2.9.4 (16 Feb 2018)

  • Fixed a bug in the date output format when no month or numeric month is given in <date>.

Version 2.9.3 (15 Feb 2018)

  • Changed the way <date> defaults are calculated. Previously, today’s date were used to populate missing day if month and year matched, and to populate month if year matched. However, if today’s date lay in an adjoining month, even if it was within days of that month, the day would be set to the first of the given month. This commit changes that, to use the last day of the month instead of the first of the month, if the month is the previous month to today’s date. This will result in a different derived date than earlier, closer to today’s date. This fixes issue #337.

  • Fixed a bug in a error message. Reverted a prettyprinting change which caused inconsistent behaviour between writers.

  • Moved normalize_month() to utils, for use in multiple writers.

  • Made the makefile less verbose.

  • Improved the pretty-printing of v2v3 output. Fixed a bug in the attribute_xref_target() handler name that prevented it from being called.

  • Removed whitespace normalization from v2v3 writer.

  • Moved handling of exempted default attributes in preptool inside get_attribute_defaults(), for consistency.

  • Added an option –liberal to permit re-processing of prepped source without error exit. This mode will be needed when we make the preptool part of the default processing pipeline. Also removed whitespace normalization for v2v3, exp, and preptool output, in order to not change authors’ text formatting when not needed.

  • Lowered the requirement on six to 1.4.1 in order to make installation easier on some systems with locked system python libs that include six.

Version 2.9.2 (09 Feb 2018)

  • Fixed issues with packaging and with execution under python 2.7. Fixes issue #342 and #343.

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