[rfc-i] Does the canonical RFC format need to be "readable" by developers and others?

Joel M. Halpern jmh at joelhalpern.com
Thu Jun 21 12:57:25 PDT 2012

HTML has the itneresting property that it is both an input form and a 
presentation form.  So it muddies the water (which may be the right answer.)

I am not saying that the RFC Editor should only publish one output form. 
  Such a restriction seems counter-productive.

Rather, there should be one form that readers who are NOT active IETF 
members, and who may not be able to read XML or SGML, can check in the 
case of apparent inconsistencies to make sure they know what the precise 
spec is.

If we decide that HTML is the right input form, I am probably willing to 
let some well-defined rendition of that HTML be the canonical form for 
resolving such inconsistencies.

Note: If everything works well, such issues should be rare.  Based on 
history, I know that rarity will not be equivalent to 0.


On 6/21/2012 3:47 PM, Paul Hoffman wrote:
> On Jun 21, 2012, at 12:36 PM, Joel M. Halpern wrote:
>> I have thought of the term canonical as being akin to normative.
> Now we are throwing around multiple terms that have different meanings to different people. What do you mean by "normative"?
>> If we have transformations, periodically there will be inconsistencies.
> Exactly right. For example, a transformation to "plain text" and a transformation to "HTML" will be inconsistent if there is external art.
>> It seems to me helpful, and arguably necessary, to have a specific, singular, form which can be read in the case o finconsistency.
> What do you mean by "read"? You can read XML and HTML: I believe I have seen you do both.
>> thus, I am very uncomfortable with a canonical form that is the xml, etc.
> By "etc" do you also mean "HTML"?
>> Further, I note that in practice, checking for correctness will be done by the authors (e.g auth48)on the output form, not the input form. Hence, I just can't see how the input can be canonical.
> That would argue that the RFC Editor could only publish one output format, the one that was reviewed by the authors. Is that what you mean?
> --Paul Hoffman

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