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* [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
@ 2020-08-26 21:24 Dan Cross
  2020-08-26 21:30 ` Bakul Shah
                   ` (2 more replies)
  0 siblings, 3 replies; 9+ messages in thread
From: Dan Cross @ 2020-08-26 21:24 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

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Honestly, I'm not quite sure if this is a TUHS, COFF, or IH question. But
since my background with respect to such things is largely Unix centric, I
thought I'd ask in that context, hence asking on TUHS.

I assume some of the regulars on this list have authored RFCs (of the IETF
etc variety). The RFC format seems fairly well fixed: table of contents,
fixed number of lines per page, page numbers and dates in the footer, and
so forth. The format is sufficiently complex that it seems like some
tooling could be usefully employed to aid in producing these documents.

So I'm curious: what tools did people use to produce those documents?
Perhaps `nroff` with custom macros or something?

        - Dan C.

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* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-08-26 21:24 [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs? Dan Cross
@ 2020-08-26 21:30 ` Bakul Shah
  2020-08-26 22:02 ` Clem Cole
  2020-09-02 23:11 ` Dan Cross
  2 siblings, 0 replies; 9+ messages in thread
From: Bakul Shah @ 2020-08-26 21:30 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Dan Cross; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

On Aug 26, 2020, at 2:24 PM, Dan Cross <crossd@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Honestly, I'm not quite sure if this is a TUHS, COFF, or IH question. But since my background with respect to such things is largely Unix centric, I thought I'd ask in that context, hence asking on TUHS.
> 
> I assume some of the regulars on this list have authored RFCs (of the IETF etc variety). The RFC format seems fairly well fixed: table of contents, fixed number of lines per page, page numbers and dates in the footer, and so forth. The format is sufficiently complex that it seems like some tooling could be usefully employed to aid in producing these documents.
> 
> So I'm curious: what tools did people use to produce those documents? Perhaps `nroff` with custom macros or something?

https://www.rfc-editor.org/pubprocess/tools/


^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 9+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-08-26 21:24 [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs? Dan Cross
  2020-08-26 21:30 ` Bakul Shah
@ 2020-08-26 22:02 ` Clem Cole
  2020-08-27 17:51   ` Tony Finch
  2020-09-02 23:11 ` Dan Cross
  2 siblings, 1 reply; 9+ messages in thread
From: Clem Cole @ 2020-08-26 22:02 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Dan Cross; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

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On Wed, Aug 26, 2020 at 5:25 PM Dan Cross <crossd@gmail.com> wrote:

> So I'm curious: what tools did people use to produce those documents?
>
What was available at the time?  Some of the first were done with a
typewriter ;-).   That said, a lot of the early ones (1960-thru late 70s)
were done using one of the different flavors of the runoff schemes, with
the PDP-10 family being pretty popular since many of the Arpa supplied
systems were based on PDP6/10s. The output, as you see, was formatted ASCII
printer listings. Once Unix hit the scene, particularly with Vaxen, nroff
took the lead, but since other than CMU/Stanford/MIT, XGPs (or later
Dovers) were rare.  Using a plotter (*a.k.a. *vcat and family) troff starts
to take off it some places beyond folks with an XGP (like UCB).   By the
time of the many different JAWS, and the Apple Laserwriter and eventually
different HP printers, the nroff/troff family was very much the norm, with
some Tex/LaTex at some point.  MS-Word does not start to show up until
about 15-20 years into the process.

As you noted, Bakul has a pointer to the current set of tools; but you
asked in the past tense; so I'm assuming you mean, how did the first 1-2K
or so get created.

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* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-08-26 22:02 ` Clem Cole
@ 2020-08-27 17:51   ` Tony Finch
  2020-08-27 18:32     ` Clem Cole
  2020-09-02  6:03     ` Random832
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 9+ messages in thread
From: Tony Finch @ 2020-08-27 17:51 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Clem Cole; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

Clem Cole <clemc@ccc.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 26, 2020 at 5:25 PM Dan Cross <crossd@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > So I'm curious: what tools did people use to produce those documents?
>
> What was available at the time?  Some of the first were done with a
> typewriter ;-).   That said, a lot of the early ones (1960-thru late 70s)
> were done using one of the different flavors of the runoff schemes, with
> the PDP-10 family being pretty popular since many of the Arpa supplied
> systems were based on PDP6/10s.

Yes, very Not Unix. As Dan wondered, the best list for this question is
internet-history, I think :-)

The Network Information Center was at SRI, and they used the ARC NLS: Doug
Englebart's Augmentation Research Center oN-Line System [1] but I get the
impression that by the 1990s nroff on Unix was the main tool for producing
RFCs.

https://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/finding-aids/102706170-SRI/102706170-SRI.pdf

Tony.
-- 
f.anthony.n.finch  <dot@dotat.at>  http://dotat.at/
Wight, Portland, Plymouth: West or southwest 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8 at
first in Wight and Portland, veering northwest 4 to 6 later. Moderate or
rough. Thundery showers. Good, occasionally poor.

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 9+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-08-27 17:51   ` Tony Finch
@ 2020-08-27 18:32     ` Clem Cole
  2020-09-02  6:03     ` Random832
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 9+ messages in thread
From: Clem Cole @ 2020-08-27 18:32 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Tony Finch; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

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On Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 1:51 PM Tony Finch <dot@dotat.at> wrote:

> Yes, very Not Unix. As Dan wondered, the best list for this question is internet-history,
> I think :-)
>
Maybe - certainly true for the first 1K  (more in a minute...)

>
> The Network Information Center was at SRI, and they used the ARC NLS: Doug
> Englebart's Augmentation Research Center oN-Line System [1]

SRI just published them, my experience/memory from the time, was the
authors wrote them locally, which as I said was more often than not,
PDP6/10 in the 70s.  Certainly was true at CMU, Stanford, and MIT.  The
problem was we all had XGPs (later Dovers) and original the Stanford PUB
system (folks with PDP-10s seemed to have tended to switch to Scribe after
it became available) but those without a custom output device, many other
folks did not.   PUB really wanted an XGP, not a line printer and the
runoff family pretty much assumed an ASCII printer page.    Scribe could
handle either, as well as the newly emerging 'daisy wheel' printers.
Actually, typesetters like the C/A/T or the APS-5 were not as popular in CS
departments (probably because the cost per page, the nuisance of the
chemistry *et al*.  Although a lot of places that had a 'publications' team
(DEC, BBN, *etc*) had them.   Lasers printers (particularly PS based ones)
were really another 3-5 years away, first Apple, then Imagen, and finally,
HP licensed PS.

So the RFC/IENs et al would have followed the preferred/economic technology
of the time.



> but I get the impression that by the 1990s nroff on Unix was the main
> tool for producing RFCs.
>
Certainly true, but I would think that the transition was at least 5 years
earlier, maybe 7-8 given the rise of the Vaxen, and using tools like
vcat(1) like we used at UCB (and I had done previous to that at Tektronix).

But that was really the important thing for the IEN/RFCs.   When the 10's
stopped being the backbone of the Arpanet (now Internet) and UNIX took the
helm, the troff family started to be the primary tool.   To be fair, the
Pascal version of Tex appeared in the early 1980s, but it was not until the
Latex (Scribe style Tex macros) and the UNIX/C support that it really began
to take off.  There were a number of reasons for this, but maybe because
Pascal was a second class citizen to C may have hindered its acceptance.  I
can not say.  I have friends that swear by it and have cursed troff
forever, and others like me, that tend the other way (emacs *vs.* vi I
think).

It's funny, I learned runoff, PUB, Scribe, troff, or sort of tex in that
order.   I have a soft spot for Scribe, but I used it for such a short
time, and troff became my primary tool.  Like Larry, I still prefer troff
(groff) today to the tex family as I have fewer problems doing complex
stuff with it; but that may be the familiarity with it being the best tool
available to me for so long.  I suspect, the RFC publishers could be a
similar story.

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* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-08-27 17:51   ` Tony Finch
  2020-08-27 18:32     ` Clem Cole
@ 2020-09-02  6:03     ` Random832
  2020-09-02 15:39       ` Fabio Scotoni
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 9+ messages in thread
From: Random832 @ 2020-09-02  6:03 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: TUHS

On Thu, Aug 27, 2020, at 13:51, Tony Finch wrote:
> Yes, very Not Unix. As Dan wondered, the best list for this question is
> internet-history, I think :-)
> 
> The Network Information Center was at SRI, and they used the ARC NLS: Doug
> Englebart's Augmentation Research Center oN-Line System [1] but I get the
> impression that by the 1990s nroff on Unix was the main tool for producing
> RFCs.

Was there a particular set of macros used? custom macros? ms? or does raw "nroff" have an easy way to produce those page headers and other things used in RFCs?

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 9+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-09-02  6:03     ` Random832
@ 2020-09-02 15:39       ` Fabio Scotoni
  2020-09-02 15:50         ` Richard Salz
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 9+ messages in thread
From: Fabio Scotoni @ 2020-09-02 15:39 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Random832; +Cc: TUHS

On 9/2/20 8:03 AM, Random832 wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 27, 2020, at 13:51, Tony Finch wrote:
>> Yes, very Not Unix. As Dan wondered, the best list for this question is
>> internet-history, I think :-)
>>
>> The Network Information Center was at SRI, and they used the ARC NLS: Doug
>> Englebart's Augmentation Research Center oN-Line System [1] but I get the
>> impression that by the 1990s nroff on Unix was the main tool for producing
>> RFCs.
> 
> Was there a particular set of macros used? custom macros? ms? or does raw "nroff" have an easy way to produce those page headers and other things used in RFCs?
> 

RFC 2223 ("Instructions to RFC Authors") from October 1997 mentions -ms
with a specific setup that is described in the appendix.
It noted that "[g]enerally, we use the very simplest nroff features."
For completeness:
That RFC has later been amended by RFC 5741 ("RFC Streams, Headers, and
Boilerplates") and RFC 6949 ("RFC Series Format Requirements and Future
Development").

(RFC 7990 from December 2016 then essentially did away with nroff as far
as I can tell.)

Interestingly, someone named Bruce Lilly made an effort to write a more
extensive macro package specifically for the purpose of being used for
RFCs, see I-D.draft-lilly-using-troff-04.
Unlike the process based around the ms macros cut together with an awk
script, his macros actually did the correct pagination on its own.
Some of the things on the website linked there are lost by now, such as
rfcref, idref and abnff, which were intended to integrate with that
macro package.

Fabio

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 9+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-09-02 15:39       ` Fabio Scotoni
@ 2020-09-02 15:50         ` Richard Salz
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 9+ messages in thread
From: Richard Salz @ 2020-09-02 15:50 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Fabio Scotoni; +Cc: TUHS

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> Some of the things on the website linked there are lost by now, such as
> rfcref, idref and abnff, which were intended to integrate with that
> macro package.
>

Those RFC tools (and others) are still available, updated for the
markdown/XML dialect that is used now.

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* Re: [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs?
  2020-08-26 21:24 [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs? Dan Cross
  2020-08-26 21:30 ` Bakul Shah
  2020-08-26 22:02 ` Clem Cole
@ 2020-09-02 23:11 ` Dan Cross
  2 siblings, 0 replies; 9+ messages in thread
From: Dan Cross @ 2020-09-02 23:11 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

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Thanks all, for the very interesting responses to this thread. It sounds
like _most_ of the Unix-based preparation efforts centered around an
`nroff`-based workflow until the advent of XML.

        - Dan C.


On Wed, Aug 26, 2020 at 5:24 PM Dan Cross <crossd@gmail.com> wrote:

> Honestly, I'm not quite sure if this is a TUHS, COFF, or IH question. But
> since my background with respect to such things is largely Unix centric, I
> thought I'd ask in that context, hence asking on TUHS.
>
> I assume some of the regulars on this list have authored RFCs (of the IETF
> etc variety). The RFC format seems fairly well fixed: table of contents,
> fixed number of lines per page, page numbers and dates in the footer, and
> so forth. The format is sufficiently complex that it seems like some
> tooling could be usefully employed to aid in producing these documents.
>
> So I'm curious: what tools did people use to produce those documents?
> Perhaps `nroff` with custom macros or something?
>
>         - Dan C.
>
>

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^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 9+ messages in thread

end of thread, other threads:[~2020-09-02 23:13 UTC | newest]

Thread overview: 9+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2020-08-26 21:24 [TUHS] Unix tools to aid in the production of Internet RFCs? Dan Cross
2020-08-26 21:30 ` Bakul Shah
2020-08-26 22:02 ` Clem Cole
2020-08-27 17:51   ` Tony Finch
2020-08-27 18:32     ` Clem Cole
2020-09-02  6:03     ` Random832
2020-09-02 15:39       ` Fabio Scotoni
2020-09-02 15:50         ` Richard Salz
2020-09-02 23:11 ` Dan Cross

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