Internet-Draft Format Framework August 2022
Hoffman Expires 10 February 2023 [Page]
Network Working Group
7990 (if approved)
Intended Status:
Standards Track
P. Hoffman

Canonical Format for RFCs


This document updates RFC 7990 by changing the definition of the "canonical format" for RFCs.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 10 February 2023.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

[RFC7990] defines a framework for how RFCs would be published in the future, including new formats and a new canonical format for archiving RFCs.

This document updates [RFC7990] in that it changes the definition of the canonical format for RFCs. This document explicitly does not update the other documents referenced in [RFC7990].

2. Updated Definition of "Canonical Format"

Section 3 of [RFC7990] defines the canonical format as:

That definition is the only place in [RFC7990] that uses the word "archived" or "archive". [RFC6949] uses the word in a fashion similar to [RFC7990]. [RFC6635], the earlier model for the RFC Editor as a whole, says "The archive of RFC documents, any source documents needed to recreate the RFC documents, and any associated original documents (such as lists of errata, tools, and, for some early items, originals that are not machine readable) need to be secured against any kind of data storage failure."

These definitions never explicitly state that the initial archived version of a document must never change. However, some people in the IETF community have said that they make that assumption. Others say that the archived version can change to fix XML format errors as long as the underlying meaning of the text does not change.

At the time that this document is written, the RFC Editor has not changed the XML files for RFCs after they were published.

The definition of "canonical format" in Section 3 of [RFC7990] is updated to be:

Section 5 of [RFC7990] says:

This wording does not take into account the need to change the XML file to fix XML errors. XML format errors, and better design choices, have been discovered by the community since the first RFCs were published using the XML format. In order to allow the RFC Editor to publish correct XML for all RFCs, Section 5 of [RFC7990] is updated to say:

[[ There is no need to bikeshed how the RFC Editor will make these available. They will propose a method, and the community will tell them if that's OK. ]]

3. IANA Considerations

This document has no IANA considerations.

4. Security Considerations

This document has the same security considerations as [RFC7990]. Those are:

Changing the format for RFCs involves modifying a great number of components to publication. Understanding those changes and the implications for the entire tool chain is critical so as to avoid unintended bugs that would allow unintended changes to text. Unintended changes to text could in turn corrupt a standard, practice, or critical piece of information about a protocol.

5. References

5.1. Normative References

Flanagan, H., "RFC Format Framework", RFC 7990, DOI 10.17487/RFC7990, , <>.

5.2. Informative References

Kolkman, O., Ed., Halpern, J., Ed., and IAB, "RFC Editor Model (Version 2)", RFC 6635, DOI 10.17487/RFC6635, , <>.
Flanagan, H. and N. Brownlee, "RFC Series Format Requirements and Future Development", RFC 6949, DOI 10.17487/RFC6949, , <>.

Author's Address

Paul Hoffman