Have you ever been curious about the process of creating a Request For Comments (RFC) document within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)? These are the standards like, oh, “HTTP”, that power the Internet. Have you been interested in understanding how they work?
If so, someone I know, Russ White, recently completed a 7-part article series about the entire process over on the Packet Pushers Network site. Russ has nicely summarized the series on his site at:
He does a nice job providing an overview of the long process of starting with an idea, creating an “Internet draft”, working it through the IETF process, and then hopefully getting it published.
There are many more details, of course, but Russ lays out the high-level aspects and mentions some of the parts of the process which are harder to understand for someone new to the IETF.
If you are interested in the RFC process, I would encourage you to give Russ’ series of articles a read.
Using Markdown instead of XML
I do have one area of disagreement with Russ. He advocates for using XML for writing Internet drafts, whereas I used to write drafts in XML but have moved over the years to instead using Markdown. If you are writing simple text documents, I believe Markdown is a simpler and easier way to work.
Back in 2019, I gave at tutorial session at the IETF meeting in Prague about “Writing Internet Drafts in Markdown”. The materials are at:
[One important note - this tutorial session was given FIVE YEARS AGO and the state of Markdown tools is always evolving. I would monitor https://authors.ietf.org/drafting-in-markdown to see about new tools and ways to work with Markdown.]
The video of the tutorial session is actually a great comparison of the two ways of creating Internet drafts. In the first half, my friend Matt Miller explains how to create I-Ds using XML tools, and then around the 32-minute mark I explain how to create drafts in Markdown.
Either way - XML or Markdown - hopefully Russ’ series helps explain a bit more about the whole process of writing a RFC.