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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 3.6.0 (17 Mar 2021)

** Add pagination, bugfixes, drops Python 3.5 **

  • Merged in [3899] from Prevent crash when column count varies between table rows. Fixes #512.

  • Merged in [3898] from Cite the abstract as ‘Abstract’ instead of ‘Appendix Abstract’. Fixes #429.

  • Merged in [3893] from Modify selector to include rfc element in yes/no to true/false conversion. Fixes #457.

  • Merged in [3892] from Move conjunctions out of author <span> elements in reference citations. Fixes #575.

  • Merged in [3891] from Remove quotes from <xref format=’title’> in text writer. Fixes #563.

  • Merged in [3890] from Label xref to a cref with the anchor instead of ‘Section X.Y’. Fixes #431.

  • Merged in [3887] and [3889] from Simplify text rendering of super/subscripts. Based on patch submitted by <> and refinement from subsequent list discussion. Fixes #590.

  • moved away test targets for untested versions of python

  • Merged in [3886] from Remove pilcrows from tables of contents In addition to searching list item descendants for the existence of previously-added pilcrows, the code now also searches the list item ancestors for any node that has the ‘toc’ class to indicate that it is part of a table of contents. If either are found, the pilcrow is not added. Fixes #568.

  • Merged in [3877] and [3878] from Made a –paginate/–pagination switch available, to force pagination for text output.

  • Merged in [3876] from Adjusted li > p margin to fit better with other list spacing, and to not let the <p> margin spill out from inside a <li>. FIxes issue #580.

  • Drop python 35 from tests

  • Updated manpage.txt and docfiles

Version 3.5.0 (18 Nov 2020)

  • Added some missing test cache entries.

  • Added missing line joiner settings for <artwork>, <artset> and <sourcecode> within <blockquote>. Fixes issue #569

  • Fixed a diff exclusion regex in the Makefile, and added a Makefile target to update manpage and docfiles, and a mkrelease step to update those files with the new release version as part of the release actions.

  • Changed the output text for <xref> with text content equal to the reference tag to output both, rather than suppressing one. Fixes issue #571.

Version 3.4.0 (06 Nov 2020)

  • Added handling for ‘indent’ attributes that have been set to the empty string. Fixes issue #564.

  • Added some new unlisted switches to make some test cases easier to maintain.

  • Changed the default handling for draft reference XIncludes to use revision-agnostic bibxml URLs in v2-to-v3 conversions, and added a switch to use explicit revisions instead if desired.

  • Tweaked and doc.xml to suppress mention of switches with argparse.SUPPRESS help settings, for consistency between –help and –doc output.

  • Changed the text output for <xref format=’title’/> on request from the RPC. Fixes issue #563.

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