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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 3.2.0 (24 Sep 2020)

  • Added a utility script that checks some test suite prerequisites, to avoid for instance test errors because of missing python modules or fonts. Related to issue #549.

  • Updated the list of tags that permit Latin script content without an ‘ascii’ attribute.

  • Changed the acceptable length of the title abbreviation for the running page header in PDF output, and changed the warning to a note.

Version 3.1.1 (13 Sep 2020)

  • Fixed an issue with empty table cells that could cause an exception.

Version 3.1.0 (13 Sep 2020)

  • Fixed an issue with an extra comma rendered in HTML for empty date elements. Fixes issue #542.

  • Added escaping of quotes in page footer and header components when generating the @page CSS for PDF output, in order to avoid issues when building quoted CSS content strings from the components. Fixes issue #544.

  • Added a CSS workaround for an unexpected HTML rendering behaviour in some browsers, where a <dt> following an empty <dd> would be indented. Fixes issue #545.

  • Improved error messages and the handling of artwork with no “type” attribute value when “binary-art” would have been correct. Fixes issue #535.

  • Reverted the default value for the –legacy-date-format to false, on request from the RPC.

  • Fixed table cell padding to not add left paddding for left-aligned columns if not all lines in the column can be padded in the same manner, and similarly for right-aligned columns. Fixes issue #543.

  • Tweaked utils.build_dataurl() to give consistent results across Python versions (tilde was added to the default safe characters in Python 3.7, so the default percentage-escape results of binary content differed if it contained a 0x7e (tilde) character.

  • Fixed a bug in finding the length of the longest word in a table cell, used to determine minimum cell width for text output.

  • Added a new test case with a tightly constrained table to excercise the issue in #543.

  • Added <title> to the list of elements that can have Latin script content without needing the ‘ascii’ attribute set. Fixes issue #525.

  • Refined the rendering of <xref> with format=’title’ for the text formatter.

  • Added docfile and manpage information about elements that are permitted to have Latin script content without an ascii attribute equivalent being set.

  • Expanded on the docfile description of elements that can have Latin script content without ASCII fallback.

  • Added a test case related to issue #525.

  • Changed the HTML rendering of <xref> within <name> to use square brackets. Fixes issue #498.

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