[rfc-i] issue: canonical formats

Iljitsch van Beijnum iljitsch at muada.com
Wed Jun 6 04:16:32 PDT 2012

On 6 Jun 2012, at 12:01 , John Levine wrote:

>> But that's just the problem. If there's a PDF version and an ASCII
>> version (just to refer to today's reality) and there is a technical
>> difference between the two (originally caused by human error),
>> which one counts, ten years later in court?

> The original xml2rfc, of course.

Leaving aside the facts that despite the missing 😃  this must a joke and that there is not always XML2RFC source for an RFC, this can't work.

Even on this list several people have proclaimed that reading the source is something they are not prepared to do. Let alone the lawyers we're trying to get on the good side of by having a designated canonical format. So in practice, reading the XML2RFC source requires running the XML2RFC tool. In the past, there have been cases where the current version of the XML2RFC format couldn't be transformed into usable output by the current(ly widely available) of the XML2RFC tool. Also, the tool has little or no official support so it could fall by the wayside at any time.

One of the benefits of our ASCII format is that it _used_ to be relatively easy to generate the format that people would ultimately read. This is also true for Word/PDF workflows. I think we should try to recapture that benefit by making it possible for authors to create the canonical version themselves and submit that version, and not have some under-documented submission-only format sitting somewhere in the middle.

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