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Pretty RFC indexes and reformats RFC documents for easier discovery and viewing.
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Pretty RFC

The goal of this projects is to collect and reformat official RFC documents and popular drafts.

RFCs, as published officially, are in unsightly and impractical paged format. What's worse, the official format of most RFCs is plain text, even though they are authored in richer formats such as XML.

Running the app


  • git
  • Ruby 1.9
  • rake
  • Bundler
  • libxml2
  • PostgreSQL

By default, the app will try to connect to the database named "rfc" on localhost without a username or password. This can be affected with the DATABASE_URL environment variable. If the database doesn't exist, the boostrap script will try to create it.

# initialize dependencies and database
$ script/bootstrap

# start the server
$ bundle exec rackup

# now visit http://localhost:9292/

The RFC index

The index of all RFCs is pulled from FTP:

Then the metadata for each RFC entry is imported to the database. This is done by the "import_index" rake task as part of the bootstrap process.

The search index

Searching is done with PostgreSQL full text searching. The necessary indexes, stored procedures and triggers for this are in Searchable module.

The search results ordering is not perfect, but it is improved by bringing in a popularity score from This is done by the "import_popular" rake task as part of the bootstrap process.

Fetching and rendering RFCs

When an RFC is first requested and it has never been processed, the app tries to look up its source XML document and render it to HTML. The XML lookup goes as follows:

  1. The fetcher tries to find the XML in where some RFCs in the 2000–53xx range can be found.

  2. Failing that, it fetches the metadata for the RFC from

  3. If there is a link to the XML from the datatracker, use that. There probably won't be a link, though.

  4. When there is no XML link, the fetcher looks up the draft name for the RFC and checks if it can at least find the XML for its draft at

Note: This process only discovers XML sources for a small subset of RFCs. This is the biggest problem I have right now. The XML and nroff files in which RFCs were authored are usually not published, but are archived by and available by request by email.

I'm investigating is there a way for bulk retrieval of these source files.

If unable to obtain them, I will have to reformat RFCs by parsing the current publications instead of the source XML. This might be a lot of work.

When obtained, the XML is parsed and rendered to HTML by the RFC module. The templates used for generating HTML are in templates/.

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