[Tools-discuss] I-Ds, submission, and preferred formats

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Wed, 25 May 2022 00:33 UTC

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Subject: [Tools-discuss] I-Ds, submission, and preferred formats
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I hope this is the right place to make these comments.  If it is
not (and maybe it it is), see (1) below.

I had occasion to look at the relatively new authors' [1] and
submission [2] pages today.  Nice looking, good explanations,
and good work.  I do have some suggestions -- three minor (I
hope small patches) and one more substantive.

(1) Minor: Traditionally, a contact address for suggestions and
bug reports has been included on every datatracker and other
tools page.  It is not on either of these and there is no
obvious way to get that information.  Unless there is a reason
for leaving it out that is not obvious to me, I suggest figuring
out a way to restore it.

(2) Also minor:  I would have expected to find a subsection on
the authors' page [1] titled something like "Submitting Your
Internet Draft" even if all the test says is "When you are ready
to have your draft posted, <Submitting your Internet-Draft> [2]".

(3) Another issue/nit: These documents have apparently renamed
"xml2rfc" to "RFCXML" even though the relevant RFCs (and even
the I-D with the proposed new vocabulary [3]) still use the
original terminology.  The only use of "RFCXML" I can find in
the datatracker is draft-rfcxml-general-the-new-webiquette [4].
It does not use the term in its actual title or in the body of
the document.  It also violates the naming rules for I-Ds.  

It is also not clear from the many contexts in which the new
term is used whether it is intended to be a synonym for the
"xml2rfc" vocabulary/format, in which case it should appear
fairly consistently with a version number unless that is
irrelevant or if it refers to version 3, at least unless a
version number is given, which appears be the case in some

I can think of good reasons for the new terminology, especially
if you are trying to distinguish between the conversion
procedure and the format.  If it is going to be used, please
define it precisely and then use it consistently.    However,
changes from long-standing and well-established terms to new
ones inevitably creates confusion and, in today's world where
someone might use xml2rfc as a search term and, sooner or later,
won't find relevant pages with it, I think some sort of
discussion with the community about the change and tradeoffs
would be in order.  Or, if you and others disagree, at least say
a bit more than 'RFCXML was previously known as the "xml2rfc
vocabulary".' in the body of the "RFCXML overview and
background"' page [5].

(4) There is an increasing push to submit "RFCXML I-Ds" or
"RFCXML" (even that terminology is not completely consistent).
The "Submitting..." page [2] uses some fairly strong language
like "If an RFCXML submission is not possible..." and "submit
RFCXML if at all possible,...".   There is a problem with that
recommendation and at least some document authors who are
developing directly in that format (I don't have any idea how
many of us are left).  When a document, especially a WG one,
goes through many iterations, author comments are an invaluable
and, at least for me, nearly essential tool for tracking
changes, including making notes on when they were introduced and
why, and even potential changes.  Those comments are written for
authors as notes to themselves and maybe to other authors.  They
are not suitable for public availability, especially if they
include evaluations of particular ideas or critical comments
about the relationships among various suggestions.  And some of
the comments are just confusing.   To take a handy example, the
working source version of draft-ietf-emailcore-rfc5321bis
contains enough information to allow me to identify the source
and reasons for most potentially controversial text going back
to before RFC 2821 was finalized.   

As the RPC might remember, I started removing all of those
comments either before the document went over the wall to them
or late in the AUTH48 process, but that means I have to maintain
a private working copy and retrofit AUTH48 changes into it to
preserve information between RFC-published versions.  In theory,
I could do the same thing before submitting each version  --
using an emacs/epsilon macro or private extension to remove all
of the comments -- is not that big a deal, but it is extra work.
But, unless you want to have a serious conversation about
additional tools, I'm going to interpret posting the XML form as
"not possible" and you keep getting plain text.  Maybe that is
ok, but I want to be sure that the "post XML" near-requirement
can be bar to effective and efficient document development and


[1] https://authors.ietf.org/
[2] https://authors.ietf.org/en/submitting-your-internet-draft
[3] https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-iab-rfc7991bis/
[5] https://authors.ietf.org/en/rfcxml-overview