[rfc-i] [IAB Trac] #266: Requirement for "Clear Printing"

Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) rse at rfc-editor.org
Fri Feb 15 10:18:36 PST 2013

HI Ran,

Please add your comment to Trac so Bernard and I can make sure all
issues are responded to in some way, shape, or form.


On 2/15/13 7:00 AM, RJ Atkinson wrote:
> Heather,
> A key feature of the current RFC publication process is that a
> given RFC (or I-D) will have identical pagination -- regardless of
> whether it is printed on A4 paper, printed on US-Letter paper, or
> even viewed in a web browser (i.e., browser showing text/plain
> format, rather than a browser showing HTML format).
> This means that when working with colleagues, one can talk about
> some RFC (or I-D) and use the page number as a reference/anchor
> point in our discussions. Today, even folks working from an
> electronic copy (if using the text/plain ".txt" format, rather than
> the HTML format) also have that pagination visible to them.
> It would be a nightmare to have a colleague refer to (his/her)
> "page 4" and have that be "page 3" or "page 5" on my own copy.
> That would be a huge waste of a lot of folks' time, and seems
> easily avoidable.
> While I'm sure that individual custom varies, nearly all of the
> implementers that I know well normally work from a printed copy.
> Similarly, many reviewers of I-Ds and readers of RFCs find it more
> effective to work from a printed copy.
> Curiously, in my own (non-scientific) sample of people, there is no
> "generational" aspect to this.  This practice of working from print
> when coding or designing an implementation seems as common among
> folks who are 20-something as it is with folks who are
> 40-something.
> While I have no objection to making RFCs available in other formats
> (e.g., HTML without pagination), I would be greatly obliged if a
> print-oriented format with existing fixed/predictable/consistent
> pagination and fixed/predictable line-length remained available for
> those who wish to continue to work from the decades-long text/plain
> (".txt") format.
> The 2 current text/plain format rules cause printing to work
> equally well with A4 and US-Letter paper sizes. So one can work
> trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific and all be on the same page: * 58
> lines/page * 72 characters (plus CR and LF)/line
> So my requested action is that Section 3.3. be revised to delete
> the "retirement" of the 58 lines/page and 72 characters (plus CR
> and LF)/line rules.
> I'd be quite happy if these 2 rules were scoped to apply only to
> the "text/plain" format of RFCs (and I-Ds), such that those 2 rules
> did NOT apply if one were generating an HTML format or some other
> format.  Of course, this implies continuing the automatic
> generation of a print-oriented format (i.e., text/plain with ".txt"
> filename extension) that DOES comply with those 2 rules.
> This change to the RFC Format Requirements draft would retain the
> critical uniformity of pagination in the existing widely used 
> printable format, while allowing flexibility in line-length and 
> pagination in other formats (e.g, HTML).
> Yours,
> Ran Atkinson
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