[rfc-i] Text no longer definitive (was Re: Proposed way forwards on backward compatibility with v2)

Paul Kyzivat pkyzivat at alum.mit.edu
Tue Feb 18 12:28:52 PST 2014

On 2/18/14 2:43 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> On 19/02/2014 08:04, Dave Crocker wrote:
>> On 2/18/2014 10:34 AM, Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) wrote:
>>> Regarding artwork, ASCII or otherwise, the debate as to whether it
>>> should be normative in an IETF sense is ongoing.  The last time I beat
>>> my head against that particular wall, I believe the end result was that
>>> we (the RFC Editor and the IESG) would encourage the use of artwork as
>>> informative only, but recognize that artwork sometimes must be normative
>>> to a spec.
>> wfm.  interesting approach.  tnx.
> The words make sense, but somehow I'd like to see a worked example of
> *necessarily* normative artwork, and whether it is canonical as ASCII
> art or as SVG.

The problem I can see most easily is where it is text that is normative, 
but the text can't be understood unambiguously without viewing the 
diagram. E.g., see the SIP transaction model and state machines in 
section 17 of rfc3261. I have never tried to understand it without 
consulting the figures. I doubt it is possible. And I expect it would be 
hard to write it so that it is possible. (Maybe we cold ask Sam H for an 

> I suspect that in practice we have many cases of normative ASCII art
> for bit layouts; describing bit layouts in English is painful and
> error-prone, so why bother?
> (IMNSHO, a bit layout in ASCII art with a fixed-width font is just
> about as unambiguous as you can get, other than using a formal
> language.)
>     Brian
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