About BibXML service

BibXML service can be thought of as a bibliographic item database.

It provides bibliographic data search interface for people who work on IETF standards, as well as programmatic retrieval facilities for associated automated toolchains.


Searching indexed data

Quick search

Quick search field attempts to interpret given query as an exact identifier.

If that succeeds, the service redirects to located resource’s bibliographic details directly.

Otherwise, the service passes the query string to less exact search methods below, starting from identifier substring match and ending with web search, and redirects to search results page.

Search modes

The service supports multiple ways of searching across indexed bibliographic data. Some of those (JSON substructure and JSON path match) require awareness of Relaton bibliographic data schema specifics, while others are less precise and require no such knowledge.

In many cases, the latter is enough.

See search help on landing page for more information on how different search modes behave.

Querying external sources

It’s also possible to look up a document by its DOI using Crossref.

Found bibliographic data, if any, is displayed the same way indexed bibliographic items are shown, and can also be exported in BibXML.

Data available from Crossref API tends to be less complete than authoritative data in indexed Relaton sources, so if you have a DOI to look up it may be worth using main search functionality first in case that resource is indexed.

Bibliographic data

Bibliographic data is sourced in Relaton format. Relaton data model attempts to bridge the gap between bibliographic data representations and identifiers used across organizations.

Field labels below correspond to field names in Relaton data model.

Displayed bibliographic item details

Screenshot of bibliographic item details layout
An overview of key fields shown on bibliographic item details page.
Source information

Displays the source from which the item was obtained (either indexed or fetched on-demand), and shows a table with raw data.

Export links

Allow to download bibliographic item in various formats, most importantly XML (BibXML, also known as xml2rfc).

It may be required to authenticate with the service in order to use export links.

Type (type or doctype field)

Shows organization-specific doctype (e.g., “internet-draft”, “rfc”) or, if not available, basic type (e.g., “standard”).

Inferred title

Main title. For a resource that doesn’t have titles of its own, which may happen for e.g. a document series, an attempt to “make up” a descriptive string based on primary identifiers and titles of resources included via relations is made. Barring that, a machine-readable identifier or a formattedref is used.

Identifiers (docid field)

Identify the resource.

In particular, a primary identifier (shown in bold) is used when citing or referencing the resource.

For example:

  • draft-ietf-ipsecme-rfc8229bis-04 identifies version 4 of the Internet Draft titled “TCP Encapsulation of IKE and IPsec Packets”,
  • RFC 9225 identifies the “Software Defects Considered Harmful” RFC from April 1st 2022,
  • IEEE P1547-9/D-5.3.2022-02 identifies a draft, version 5.3, revision of Feb. 2022, for document P1547 (part 9) of an IEEE standard.

Across the industry, there is no universal schema to which all resource identifiers conform, and often there’re no such specifications even within individual SDOs. However:

  1. Some SDOs are in the process of formalizing their resource identifiers with efforts such as NIST PubID.
  2. There is an ongoing effort to implement parsers for preexisting document identifier strings across various SDOs, intended to assist defining relevant specifications.

Other, secondary identifiers include DOI, ISBN, in-series anchors etc. They are not generally used when, e.g., referencing a document from another document, but they are still listed and can be searched by.

Abstracts (abstract field)

Abstract is a field that is often found describing a document. There can be zero or more abstracts, typically using different languages/scripts.

Lifecycle dates (date field)

A list of dates corresponding to events in resource lifecycle. There can be zero or more dates, usually at least one, each date specifying what it is (creation, approval, publication and so on).

The most recent date in this array is used when sorting search result pages. A resource on which most recent date is found is shown first.

Authors, editors, publishers (contributor field)

A list of people and/or organizations that participated in the creation of the document. Each entity is linked to search that matches corresponding substructure across bibliographic items’ Relaton representations (note that results may not be exhaustive due to possible variations in JSON structures representing the same contributor entity on different resources).

Relations (relation field)

Related resources, with relation type. Can list superseding, superseded, including (for series) or merely related documents and other resources.

External links (link field)

Links to resource representations elsewhere. Could be, for example, a PDF (or another file) hosted by publishing organization.