Format FAQ - 26-February-2014
"What does this mean for authors who don't use xml2rfc?"
In the short term, authors will continue to be able to submit their final
I-Ds (those already approved by the streams) in text, nroff, or XML.
Authors can expect additional questions regarding potential metadata and
element tags as we explore a broader use of XML.
Long-term implications for authors who do not use xml2rfc will be better
understood after we have explored the full implication of tool changes and
determined what seems to work most effectively for the RFC Editor and the
"How soon can authors start using non-ASCII characters in RFCs?"
Several questions remain regarding the inclusion of non-ASCII characters
within RFCs. While we are moving ahead with the intent of permitting
non-ASCII, UTF-8 encoded characters, these characters will only be allowed
in RFCs after the details of where and how new characters will be supported
have been determined, when we have tools that can support those characters
deployed, and the RFC Production Center is trained in the handling of such
characters. Guidance on the use of non-ASCII characters in RFCs is being
developed and documented in draft-flanagan-nonascii.
What encodings will the RFC Editor accept?
The RFC Editor will only accept files encoded as UTF-8.
"What do these changes mean for xml2rfc?"
Several things, including (but not limited to) further encouraging the
deprecation of xml2rfc v1, code enhancements for v2, some new or changed
element definitions, and the archiving of different versions of the tool
by the RFC Publisher after major updates. The v2 XML vocabulary is being
documented in draft-reschke-xml2rfc-latest, and the proposed v3 XML
vocabulary is being documented in draft-hoffman-xml2rfc.
"What happens if an author wants to provide a plain text file rather than an XML file?"
Authors will be allowed to submit a plain text file. It will have to be
converted to a basic XML file prior to publication, and a tool that will
assist with that is necessary for both the RFC Editor and the authors.
See also "What does this mean for authors who don't use xml2rfc?"
"What Publication formats be available when the cutover starts?"
HTML, TXT, and PDF will be the first publication formats available. EPUB
is also expected, but is likely to be offered at a later date.
"Will you republish any RFCs in the new Canonical format?"
No. No changes will be made to already-published RFCs.
"How will images be handled for the plain text version of an RFC?"
The current thinking is that RFCs with images will include a written
description and a reference to the PDF or HTML version. This is similar
to current practice.
"How will non-ASCII characters be handled when rendering the plain text version of an RFC?"
Since the question of where and when non-ASCII characters should be permitted
is still under discussion, it is difficult to provide a definitive answer
to this question at this time. Current thinking (subject to change as we learn
more) is to require an ASCII version of the author names and contact
information for indexing and common reading purposes. Both versions of the
author's name would be displayed in the Authors' Addresses section, with
the ASCII plain text version in the header. Within an RFC, if the subject of
the RFC requires non-ASCII characters for implementation and understanding, a
Unicode code point may be required (see RFC 5895 as an example of how ASCII
and Unicode could be used). If non-ASCII characters are used in examples or
other non-normative texts, the ASCII version of the RFC will likely either
point to the HTML/PDF version OR a simple substitution will be made (if
possible) based on a published table of such substitutions (e.g., "e" for
"What are the Internet-Drafts related to the RFC format effort?"
- Reschke, J., "The 'XML2RFC' version 2 Vocabulary", Work in Progress, draft-reschke-xml2rfc-05, February 2014.
- Hoffman, P., "The 'XML2RFC' version 3 Vocabulary", Work in Progress, draft-hoffman-xml2rfc-02, February 2014.
- Flanagan, H., "The Use of Non-ASCII Characters in RFCs", Work in Progress,
draft-flanagan-nonascii-00, February 2014.
- Hildebrand, J. and H. Flanagan, Ed., "HyperText Markup Language Request For Comments Format", Work in Progress, draft-hildebrand-html-rfc-02, February 2014.
- Brownlee, N., "SVG Drawings for RFCs: SVG 1.2 RFC", Work in Progress, draft-brownlee-svg-rfc-02, February 2014.
And look for "PDF for an RFC Series Output Document Format" coming soon.