[rfc-i] v3imp #A Convert to PDF with a quality tool

Sean Leonard dev+ietf at seantek.com
Fri Jan 23 01:10:23 PST 2015

Tool Request
#A Convert to PDF with a quality tool

Despite various pronouncements that pagination doesn't matter, etc., the 
fact is that people will be using paged media for a long time to come. 
Pretty much every other SDO on the planet (except perhaps W3C) issues 
its standards in a paginated form, including physical book or electronic 
PDF options.

To make IETF docs look good, it would be nice to have a quality tool 
that captures all of the nuances of the vocabulary in PDF format. 
Desired features include:
• bookmarks for sections
• observing pagination controls (see Improvement #2)
• observing standardized headers and footers (compare with Tool Request 
#B, forthcoming)
• preserving intra-document and extra-document hyperlinks
• formatting choices that allow documents to be printed on Letter or A4 
page sizes at 100% resolution
• including comments and other annotations in the native PDF format
• observing whitespace and line break preservation as directed by the 
input (e.g., NBSP, NBHYPHEN, don't break this range of text, don't 
collapse multiple spaces)
• vector artwork
• preserving text flow for accessibility purposes
• font embedding
• preserving "files" and other incorporated blobs as document-level or 
page-level "File Attachments"
• metadata preservation

Short of developing a custom tool, the off-the-shelf standard that I 
have found to work is xml2rfc -> HTML -> hand-tooling the HTML to look 
"nice" -> Prince XML -> PDF. Prince XML is CSS aware and therefore gets 
a lot of the formatting right, in a way that no other layout engine has 
been able to handle.

For draft-josefsson-pkix-textual-10 I believe that I used the 
Chrome/Chromium rendering engine to PDF on Mac OS X, as it preserved the 
no-break and (manually inserted) pagination control properties 
correctly. Unfortunately, neither Chrome/WebKit nor Firefox/Gecko 
rendering engines preserve hyperlinks when saving as PDF using the print 

Prince XML is commercial software but it is cheap enough for a site 
license that I think the IETF/RFC Editor should just get a license and 
make it available for online I-D and RFC conversion. Other than this, 
consider converting xml2rfc v3 directly to PDF, in conjunction with some 
style sheet input. (Upon writing that sentence, I think that defining 
the style sheet input is significantly more complex than writing the 
tool itself...which is why I think that going the (X)HTML route offers a 
lot more flexibility and commercially maintained options.)


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