Re: document writing/editing tools used by IETF

Michael Richardson <> Sat, 27 February 2021 19:32 UTC

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From: Michael Richardson <>
Subject: Re: document writing/editing tools used by IETF
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Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2021 14:32:27 -0500
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John Levine <> wrote:
    > I agree that neither mailing lists nor github are ideal for the way the
    > IETF works today but I would be very unhappy if we invented yet another
    > bespoke locally maintained bunch of software.

That's true.

    > We're strange but it's hard to imagine that we're so strange that there
    > isn't an existing package somewhere that will do the job either as is
    > or with minor customization.

You are stating this completely backwards.
We aren't strange, we are brilliant, and it's hard for others to understand
our needsd.

There were in fact, existing tools when we started: they were airplanes and hotels,
but we were strange, and we wanted to access remote computers without travel,
so we invented Telnet.  For many industries, they have stuck to travel up to
and including the beginning of the pandemic.  Many senior executives had
never used teleconference before the pandemic for instance: people came to them.

That bespoke system wasn't for everyone, so in the 1990s, some people outside
of the IETF, at a science laboratory turned built our "FTP" protocol into
HTTP+WWW, which we then took over the world as the way to access remote

People keep saying that our bespoke tools are somehow backwards, and that
other people have done a better job.  But it's almost always the opposite in
my opinion.

Our bespoke tools lead the way for others.  We know what we want, and we know
how our technology can be used to deliver it.   Others don't, so they
re-invent things over and over and over again.

We did this with Jabber+Audio, and then video streams for remote meetings,
and there were a dozen immitators.  They couldn't figure out cross-platform,
couldn't anticipate mobile devices and chromebooks and TVs with Internet
connections. Some even spread malware due to lack of "Security
Considerations", so we did our own based upon webrtc.

Now everyone does webrtc: but the other tools still regularly fail to provide
the right integrations.

Michael Richardson <>   . o O ( IPv6 IøT consulting )
           Sandelman Software Works Inc, Ottawa and Worldwide