[rfc-i] Canonical input formats

Fred Baker (fred) fred at cisco.com
Tue Jul 31 11:40:09 PDT 2012

I'm sitting in the BOF and listening to all that is being said. If you want to know what I like, I like XML2RFC, for the same reason that Joe likes HTML. It's familiar to me, contains metadata, is supported by tools I know how to use, and at least mostly works.

One thing I am currently a little worried about is how one reworks a prior work. Context: I have been asked by the OSPF Chair to modify an existing MIB document. There are a lot of ways I could do that, one of which would be to take the current RFC, turn it into XML, add the two sentences that are necessary (or whatever), produce the output, and post the draft. Or, something I think I might be happier with, I could ask the RFC Editor for whatever they produced said RFC from, modify that, and produce the updated document.

So now I'm having visions of:
   - there are folks in our community that use nroff, Word, XML2RFC, presumably HTML, and probably something else.
   - I'm not sure what the RFC Editor uses - I suspect it's still nroff.
   - Therefore, what I expect the RFC Editor to send me is whatever they use, perhaps nroff.

Yes, I have an nroff tool on my Mac and on mainframes in Cisco. Linux users probably do too. I'll bet Windows users are less likely to. Hmmm. Joe has HTML tools on his computer; if the RFC Editor were to send me HTML, I would have to download and learn those tools. I own a copy of Word, and if the RFC Editor sent me a Word document I could make that work. Were I a Linux user, I would find myself changing that to Open Office (and if I worked at Apple, I would find myself tempted to convert to Pages), but document conversion has all the pitfalls NAT has.

You see where I'm going. It would be nice if the RFC Editor could advise the community what input format they use, so that in these exercises, we have some consistent expectation (however reasonable or not we might consider it) of what we should be prepared for. "No canonical input format" not only means that the RFC Editor continues the current free-for-all, but folks like me do as well.

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