RFC 2360

Network Working Group                                  G. Scott, Editor
Request for Comments: 2360           Defense Information Systems Agency
BCP: 22                                                       June 1998
Category: Best Current Practice

                  Guide for Internet Standards Writers

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document is a guide for Internet standard writers.  It defines
   those characteristics that make standards coherent, unambiguous, and
   easy to interpret.  In addition, it singles out usage believed to
   have led to unclear specifications, resulting in non-interoperable
   interpretations in the past.  These guidelines are to be used with
   RFC 2223, "Instructions to RFC Authors".

Table of Contents

   1     Introduction   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   2     General Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   2.1   Discussion of Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   2.2   Protocol Description   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   2.3   Target Audience  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   2.4   Level of Detail  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   2.5   Change Logs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.6   Protocol Versions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.7   Decision History   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.8   Response to Out of Specification Behavior  . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.9   The Liberal/Conservative Rule  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   2.10  Handling of Protocol Options   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
   2.11  Indicating Requirement Levels  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
   2.12  Notational Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
   2.13  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   2.14  Network Management Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   2.15  Scalability Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   2.16  Network Stability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   2.17  Internationalization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11

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   2.18  Glossary   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   3     Specific Guidelines  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   3.1   Packet Diagrams  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   3.2   Summary Tables   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   3.3   State Machine Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   4     Document Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5     Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   6     References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   7     Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   8     Editor's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   9     Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   10    Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

1  Introduction

   This document is a guide for Internet standard writers.  It offers
   guidelines on how to write a standards-track document with clarity,
   precision, and completeness.  These guidelines are based on both
   prior successful and unsuccessful IETF specification experiences.
   These guidelines are to be used with RFC 2223, "Instructions to RFC
   Authors", or its update.  Note that some guidelines may not apply in
   certain situations.

   The goal is to increase the possibility that multiple implementations
   of a protocol will interoperate.  Writing specifications to these
   guidelines will not guarantee interoperability.  However, a
   recognized barrier to the creation of interoperable protocol
   implementations is unclear specifications.

   Many will benefit from having well-written protocol specifications.
   Implementers will have a better chance to conform to the protocol
   specification.  Protocol testers can use the specification to derive
   unambiguous testable statements.  Purchasers and users of the
   protocol will have a better understanding of its capabilities.

   For further information on the process for standardizing protocols
   and procedures please refer to BCP 9/RFC 2026, "The Internet
   Standards Process -- Revision 3".  In addition, some considerations
   for protocol design are given in RFC 1958, "Architectural Principles
   of the Internet".

2  General Guidelines

   It is important that multiple readers and implementers of a standard
   have the same understanding of a document.  To this end, information
   should be orderly and detailed.  The following are general guidelines
   intended to help in the production of such a document.  The IESG may
   require that all or some of the following sections appear in a

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   standards track document.

2.1  Discussion of Security

   If the Internet is to achieve its full potential in commercial,
   governmental, and personal affairs, it must assure users that their
   information transfers are free from tampering or compromise.  Well-
   written security sections in standards-track documents can help
   promote the confidence level required.  Above all, new protocols and
   practices must not worsen overall Internet security.

   A significant threat to the Internet comes from those individuals who
   are motivated and capable of exploiting circumstances, events, or
   vulnerabilities of the system to cause harm.  In addition, deliberate
   or inadvertent user behavior may expose the system to attack or
   exploitation.  The harm could range from disrupting or denying
   network service, to damaging user systems.  Additionally, information
   disclosure could provide the means to attack another system, or
   reveal patterns of behavior that could be used to harm an individual,
   organization, or network.  This is a particular concern with
   standards that define a portion of the Management Information Base

   Standards authors must accept that the protocol they specify will be
   subject to attack.  They are responsible for determining what attacks
   are possible, and for detailing the nature of the attacks in the
   document.  Otherwise, they must convincingly argue that attack is not
   realistic in a specific environment, and restrict the use of the
   protocol to that environment.

   After the document has exhaustively identified the security risks the
   protocol is exposed to, the authors must formulate and detail a
   defense against those attacks.  They must discuss the applicable
   countermeasures employed, or the risk the user is accepting by using
   the protocol.  The countermeasures may be provided by a protocol
   mechanism or by reliance on external mechanisms.  Authors should be
   knowledgeable of existing security mechanisms, and reuse them if
   practical.  When a cryptographic algorithm is used, the protocol
   should be written to permit its substitution with another algorithm
   in the future.  Finally, the authors should discuss implementation
   hints or guidelines, e.g., how to deal with untrustworthy data or
   peer systems.

   Security measures will have an impact within the environment that
   they are used.  Perhaps users will now be constrained on what they
   can do in the Internet, or will experience degradation in the speed
   of service.  The effects the security measures have on the protocol's
   use and performance should be discussed.

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   The discussion of security can be concentrated in the Security
   Considerations section of the document, or throughout the document
   where it is relevant to particular parts of the specification.  An
   advantage of the second approach is that it ensures security is an
   integral part of the protocol's development, rather than something
   that is a follow-on or secondary effort.  If security is discussed
   throughout the document, the Security Considerations section must
   summarize and refer to the appropriate specification sections.  This
   will insure that the protocol's security measures are emphasized to
   implementer and user both.

   Within the Security Considerations section, a discussion of the path
   not taken may be appropriate.  There may be several security
   mechanisms that were not selected for a variety of reasons: cost or
   difficulty of implementation, or ineffectiveness for a given network
   environment.  By listing the mechanisms they did not use and the
   reasons, editors can demonstrate that the protocol's WG gave security
   the necessary thought.  In addition, this gives the protocol's users
   the information they need to consider whether one of the non-selected
   mechanisms would be better suited to their particular requirements.

   A document giving further guidance on security topics is in
   development.  Authors should obtain a copy of the completed RFC to
   help them prepare the security portion of the standard.

   Finally, it is no longer acceptable that Security Considerations
   sections consist solely of statements to the effect that security was
   not considered in preparing the standard.

   Some examples of Security Considerations sections are found in STD
   33/RFC 1350, STD 51/RFC 1662, and STD 53/RFC 1939.  RFC 2316, "Report
   of the IAB Security Architecture Workshop", provides additional
   information in this topic area.

2.2  Protocol Description

   Standards track documents must include a description of the protocol.
   This description must address the protocol's purpose, intended
   functions, services it provides, and, the arena, circumstances, or
   any special considerations of the protocol's use.

   The authors of a protocol specification will have a great deal of
   knowledge as to the reason for the protocol.  However, the reader is
   more likely to have general networking knowledge and experience,
   rather than expertise in a particular protocol.  An explanation of
   it's purpose and use will give the reader a reference point for

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   understanding the protocol, and where it fits in the Internet.  The
   STD 54/RFC 2328 was recommended to the STDGUIDE working group as
   providing a good example of this in its "Protocol Overview" section.

   The protocol's general description must also provide information on
   the relationship between the different parties to the protocol. This
   can be done by showing typical packet sequences.

   This also applies to the algorithms used by a protocol.  A detailed
   description of the algorithms or citation of readily available
   references that give such a description is necessary.

2.3  Target Audience

   RFCs have been written with many different purposes, ranging from the
   technical to the administrative.  Those written as standards should
   clearly identify the intended audience, for example, designers,
   implementers, testers, help desk personnel, educators, end users, or
   others.  If there are multiple audiences being addressed in the
   document, the section for each audience needs to be identified.  The
   goal is to help the reader discover and focus on what they have
   turned to the document for, and avoid what they may find confusing,
   diverting, or extraneous.

2.4  Level of Detail

   The author should consider what level of descriptive detail best
   conveys the protocol's intent.  Concise text has several advantages.
   It makes the document easier to read.  Such text reduces the chance
   for conflict between different portions of the specification.  The
   reader can readily identify the required protocol mechanisms in the
   standard.  In addition, it makes it easier to identify the
   requirements for protocol implementation.  A disadvantage of concise
   descriptions is that a reader may not fully comprehend the reasoning
   behind the protocol, and thus make assumptions that will lead to
   implementation errors.

   Longer descriptions may be necessary to explain purpose, background,
   rationale, implementation experience, or to provide tutorial
   information.  This helps the reader understand the protocol.  Yet,
   several dangers exist with lengthy text.  Finding the protocol
   requirements in the text is difficult or confusing.  The same
   mechanism may have multiple descriptions, which leads to
   misinterpretation or conflict.  Finally, it is more difficult to
   comprehend, a consideration as English is not the native language of
   the many worldwide readers of IETF standards.

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   One approach is to divide the standard into sections: one describing
   the protocol concisely, while another section consists of explanatory
   text.  The STD 3/RFC 1122/RFC 1123 and STD 54/RFC 2328 provides
   examples of this method.

2.5  Change Logs

   As a document moves along the standards track, from Proposed to Draft
   or Draft to Full, or cycles in level, it will undergo changes due to
   better understanding of the protocol or implementation experience. To
   help implementers track the changes being made a log showing what has
   changed from the previous version of the specification is required
   (see Appendix).

2.6  Protocol Versions

   Often the standard is specifying a new version of an existing
   protocol.  In such a case, the authors should detail the differences
   between the previous version and the new version.  This should
   include the rationale for the changes, for example, implementation
   experience, changes in technology, responding to user demand, etc.

2.7  Decision History

   In standards development, reaching consensus requires making
   difficult choices.  These choices are made through working group
   discussions or from implementation experience.  By including the
   basis for a contentious decision, the author can prevent future
   revisiting of these disagreements when the original parties have
   moved on.  In addition, the knowledge of the "why" is as useful to an
   implementer as the description of "how".  For example, the
   alternative not taken may have been simpler to implement, so
   including the reasons behind the choice may prevent future
   implementers from taking nonstandard shortcuts.

2.8  Response to Out of Specification Behavior

   A detail description of the actions taken in case of behavior that is
   deviant from or exceeds the specification is useful.  This is an area
   where implementers often differ in opinion as to the appropriate
   response.  By specifying a common response, the standard author can
   reduce the risk that different implementations will come in to

   The standard should describe responses to behavior explicitly
   forbidden or out of the boundaries defined by the specification.  Two
   possible approaches to such cases are discarding, or invoking error-
   handling mechanisms.  If discarding is chosen, detailing the

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   disposition may be necessary.  For instance, treat dropped frames as
   if they were never received, or reset an existing connection or
   adjacency state.

   The specification should describe actions taken when a critical
   resource or a performance-scaling limit is exceeded.  This is
   necessary for cases where a risk of network degradation or
   operational failure exists.  In such cases, a consistent behavior
   between implementations is necessary.

2.9  The Liberal/Conservative Rule

   A rule, first stated in STD 5/RFC 791, recognized as having benefits
   in implementation robustness and interoperability is:

                    "Be liberal in what you accept, and
                      conservative in what you send".

   Or establish restrictions on what a protocol transmits, but be able
   to deal with every conceivable error received.  Caution is urged in
   applying this approach in standards track protocols.  It has in the
   past lead to conflicts between vendors when interoperability fails.
   The sender accuses the receiver of failing to be liberal enough, and
   the receiver accuses the sender of not being conservative enough.
   Therefore, the author is obligated to provide extensive detail on
   send and receive behavior.

   To avoid any confusion between the two, recommend that standard
   authors specify send and receive behavior separately.  The
   description of reception will require the most detailing.  For
   implementations are expected to continue operating regardless of
   error received.  Therefore, the actions taken to achieve that result,
   need to be laid out in the protocol specification.  Standard authors
   should concern themselves on achieving a level of cooperation that
   limits network disruption, not just how to survive on the network.
   The appearance of undefined information or conditions must not cause
   a network or host failure.  This requires specification on how to
   attempt acceptance of most of the packets.  Two approaches are
   available, either using as much of the packet's content as possible,
   or invoking error procedures.  The author should specify a dividing
   line on when to take which approach.

   A case for consideration is that of a routing protocol, where
   acceptance of flawed information can cause network failure.  For
   protocols such as this, the specification should identify packets
   that could have different interpretations and mandate that they be
   rejected completely or the nature of the attempt to recover some
   information from them.  For example, routing updates that contain

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   more data than the tuple count shows.  The protocol authors should
   consider whether some trailing data can be accepted as additional
   routes, or to reject the entire packet as suspect because it is non-

2.10  Handling of Protocol Options

   Specifications with many optional features increase the complexity of
   the implementation and the chance of non-interoperable
   implementations.  The danger is that different implementations may
   specify some combination of options that are unable to interoperate
   with each other.

   As the document moves along the standard track, implementation
   experience shall determine the need for each option.  Implementation
   shall show whether the option should be a mandatory part of the
   protocol or remain an option.  If an option is not implemented as the
   document advances, it must be removed from the protocol before it
   reaches draft standard status.

   Therefore, options shall only be present in a protocol to address a
   real requirement.  For example, options can support future
   extensibility of the protocol, a particular market, e.g., the
   financial industry, or a specific network environment, e.g., a
   network constrained by limited bandwidth.  They shall not be included
   as a means to "buy-off" a minority opinion.  Omission of the optional
   item shall have no interoperability consequences for the
   implementation that does so.

   One possible approach is to document protocol options in a separate
   specification.  This keeps the main protocol specification clean and
   makes it clear that the options are not required to implement the
   protocol.  Regardless of whether they appear within the specification
   or in a separate document, the text shall discuss the full
   implications of either using the option or not, and the case for
   choosing either course.  As part of this, the author needs to
   consider and describe how the options are used alongside other
   protocols.  The text must also specify the default conditions of all
   options.  For security checking options the default condition is on
   or enabled.

   There are occasions when mutually exclusive options appear within the
   protocol.  That is, the implementation of an optional feature
   precludes the implementation of the other optional feature.  For
   clarity, the author needs to state when to implement one or the
   other, what the effect of choosing one over the other is, and what

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   problems the implementer or user may face.  The choice of one or the
   other options shall have no interoperability consequences between
   multiple implementations.

2.11  Indicating Requirement Levels

   The BCP 14/RFC 2119, "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
   Requirement Level", defines several words that are necessary for
   writing a standards track document.  Editors of standards track
   documents must not deviate from the definitions provided as they are
   intended to identify interoperability requirements or limit
   potentially harmful behavior.  The capitalization of these words is
   the accepted norm, and can help in identifying an unintentional or
   unreasonable requirement.  These words have been used in several RFCs
   the first instances being STD 3/RFC 1122/RFC 1123.

2.12  Notational Conventions

   Formal syntax notations can be used to define complicated protocol
   concepts or data types, and to specify values of these data types.
   This permits the protocol to be written without concern on how the
   implementation is constructed, or how the data type is represented
   during transfer.  The specification is simplified because it can be
   presented as "axioms" that will be proven by implementation.

   The formal specification of the syntax used should be referenced in
   the text of the standard.  Any extensions, subsets, alterations, or
   exceptions to that formal syntax should be defined within the

   The STD 11/RFC 822 provides an example of this.  In RFC 822 (Section
   2 and Appendix D) the Backus-Naur Form (BNF) meta-language was
   extended to make its representation smaller and easier to understand.
   Another example is STD 16/RFC 1155 (Section 3.2) where a subset of
   the Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1) is defined.

   The author of a standards track protocol needs to consider several
   things before they use a formal syntax notation.  Is the formal
   specification language being used parseable by an existing machine?
   If no parser exists, is there enough information provided in the
   specification to permit the building of a parser?  If not, it is
   likely the reader will not have enough information to decide what the
   notation means.  In addition, the author should remember machine
   parseable syntax is often unreadable by humans, and can make the
   specification excessive in length.  Therefore, syntax notations
   cannot take the place of a clearly written protocol description.

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2.13  IANA Considerations

   The common use of the Internet standard track protocols by the
   Internet community requires that unique values be assigned to
   parameter fields.  An IETF WG does not have the authority to assign
   these values for the protocol it developed.  The Internet Assigned
   Numbers Authority (IANA) is the central authority for the assignment
   of unique parameter values for Internet protocols.  The authors of a
   developing protocol need to coordinate with the IANA the rules and
   procedures to manage the number space.  This coordination needs to be
   completed prior to submitting the Internet Draft to the standards

   A document is in preparation that discusses issues related to
   identifier assignment policy and guidelines on specific text to task
   IANA with its administration.  Standard authors should obtain a copy
   of it when it is finalized as an RFC.

   For further information on parameter assignment and current
   assignments, authors can reference STD 2, RFC 1700, "Assigned
   Numbers" (http://www.iana.org).

2.14  Network Management Considerations

   When relevant, each standard needs to discuss how to manage the
   protocol being specified.  This management process should be
   compatible with the current IETF Standard management protocol.  In
   addition, a MIB must be defined within the standard or in a companion
   document.  The MIB must be compatible with current Structure of
   Management Information (SMI) and parseable using a tool such as
   SMICng.  Where management or a MIB is not necessary this section of
   the standard should explain the reason it is not relevant to the

2.15  Scalability Considerations

   The standard should establish the limitations on the scale of use,
   e.g., tens of millions of sessions, gigabits per second, etc., and
   establish limits on the resources used, e.g., round trip time,
   computing resources, etc.  This is important because it establishes
   the ability of the network to accommodate the number of users and the
   complexity of their relations.  The STD 53/RFC 1939 has an example of
   such a section.  If this is not applicable to the protocol, an
   explanation of why not should be included.

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2.16  Network Stability

   A standard should discuss the relationship between network topology
   and convergence behavior.  As part of this, any topology that would
   be troublesome for the protocol should be identified.  Additionally,
   the specification should address any possible destabilizing events,
   and means by which the protocol resists or recovers from them.  The
   purpose is to insure that the network will stabilize, in a timely
   fashion, after a change, and that a combination of errors or events
   will not plunge the network into chaos.  The STD 34/RFC 1058, as an
   example, has sections which discuss how that protocol handles the
   affects of changing topology.

   The obvious case this would apply to is a routing protocol.  However,
   an application protocol could also have dynamic behavior that would
   affect the network.  For example, a messaging protocol could suddenly
   dump a large number of messages onto the network.  Therefore, editors
   of an application protocol will have to consider possible impacts to
   network stability and convergence behavior.

2.17 Internationalization

   At one time the Internet had a geographic boundary and was English
   only.  The Internet now extends internationally.  Therefore, data is
   interchanged in a variety of languages and character sets.  In order
   to meet the requirements of an international Internet, a standard
   must conform to the policies stated in BCP 18/RFC 2277, "IETF Policy
   on Character Sets and Languages".

2.18  Glossary

   Every standards track RFC should have a glossary, as words can have
   many meanings.  By defining any new words introduced, the author can
   avoid confusing or misleading the implementers.  The definition
   should appear on the word's first appearance within the text of the
   protocol specification, and in a separate glossary section.

   It is likely that definition of the protocol will rely on many words
   frequently used in IETF documents.  All authors must be knowledgeable
   of the common accepted definitions of these frequently used words.
   FYI 18/RFC 1983, "Internet Users' Glossary", provides definitions
   that are specific to the Internet.  Any deviation from these
   definitions by authors is strongly discouraged.  If circumstances
   require deviation, an author should state that he is altering the
   commonly accepted definition, and provide rationale as to the
   necessity of doing so.  The altered definition must be included in
   the Glossary section.

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   If the author uses the word as commonly defined, she does not have to
   include the definition in the glossary.  As a minimum, FYI 18/RFC
   1983 should be referenced as a source.

3  Specific Guidelines

   The following are guidelines on how to present specific technical
   information in standards.

3.1  Packet Diagrams

   Most link, network, and transport layer protocols have packet
   descriptions.  Packet diagrams included in the standard are very
   helpful to the reader.  The preferred form for packet diagrams is a
   sequence of long words in network byte order, with each word
   horizontal on the page and bit numbering at the top:

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |Version| Prio. |                   Flow Label                  |

   In cases where a packet is strongly byte-aligned rather than word-
   aligned (e.g., when byte-boundary variable-length fields are used),
   display packet diagrams in a byte-wide format.  The author can use
   different height boxes for short and long words, and broken boxes for
   variable-length fields:

                           0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
                          |    Length N   |
                          |               |
                          +    Address    +
                          +   (N bytes)   +
                          |               |
                          |               |
                          +  2-byte field +
                          |               |

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3.2  Summary Tables

   The specifications of some protocols are particularly lengthy,
   sometimes covering a hundred pages or more.  In such cases, the
   inclusion of a summary table can reduce the risk of conformance
   failure by an implementation through oversight.  A summary table
   itemizes what in a protocol is mandatory, optional, or prohibited.
   Summary tables do not guarantee conformance, but serve to assist an
   implementer in checking that they have addressed all protocol

   The summary table will consist of, as a minimum, four (4) columns:
   Protocol Feature, Section Reference, Status, and
   References/Footnotes.  The author may add columns if they further
   explain or clarify the protocol.

   In the Protocol Feature column, list the protocol's characteristics,
   for example, a command word.  We recommend grouping series of related
   transactions under descriptive headers, for example, RECEPTION.

   Section reference directs the implementer to the section, paragraph,
   or page that describes the protocol feature in detail.

   Status indicates whether the feature is mandatory, optional, or
   prohibited.  The author can use either a separate column for each
   possibility, or a single column with appropriate codes.  These codes
   need to be defined at the start of the summary table to avoid
   confusion.  Possible status codes:

       M    - must or mandatory
       MN   - must not
       O    - optional
       S    - should
       SN   - should not
       X    - prohibited

   In the References/Footnotes column authors can point to other RFCs
   that are necessary to consider in implementing this protocol feature,
   or any footnotes necessary to explain the implementation further.

   The STD 3/RFC 1122/RFC 1123 provides examples of summary tables.

3.3  State Machine Descriptions

   A convenient method of presenting a protocol's behavior is as a
   state-machine model.  That is, a protocol can be described by a
   series of states resulting from a command, operation, or transaction.
   State-machine models define the variables and constants that

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   establish a state, the events that cause state transitions and the
   actions that result from those transitions.  Through these models, an
   understanding of the protocol's dynamic operation as sequence of
   state transitions that occur for any given event is possible.  State
   transitions can be detailed by diagrams, tables, or time lines.

   Note that state-machine models are never to take the place of
   detailed text description of the specification.  They are adjuncts to
   the text.  The protocol specification shall always take precedence in
   the case of a conflict.

   When using a state transition diagram, show each possible protocol
   state as a box connected by state transition arcs.  The author should
   label each arc with the event that causes the transition, and, in
   parentheses, any actions taken during the transition.  The STD 5/RFC
   1112 provides an example of such a diagram.  As ASCII text is the
   preferred storage format for RFCs, only simple diagrams are possible.
   Tables can summarize more complex or extensive state transitions.

   In a state transition table, the different events are listed
   vertically and the different states are listed horizontally.  The
   form, action/new state, represents state transitions and actions.
   Commas separate multiple actions, and succeeding lines are used as
   required.  The authors should present multiple actions in the order
   they must be executed, if relevant.  Letters that follow the state
   indicate an explanatory footnote.  The dash ('-') indicates an
   illegal transition.  The STD 51/RFC 1661 provides an example of such
   a state transition table.  The initial columns and rows of that table
   follow as an example:

           | State
           |    0         1         2         3         4         5
     Events| Initial   Starting  Closed    Stopped   Closing   Stopping
      Up   |    2     irc,scr/6     -         -         -         -
      Down |    -         -         0       tls/1       0         1
      Open |  tls/1       1     irc,scr/6     3r        5r        5r
      Close|    0       tlf/0       2         2         4         4
       TO+ |    -         -         -         -       str/4     str/5
       TO- |    -         -         -         -       tlf/2     tlf/3

   The STD 18/RFC 904 also presents state transitions in table format.
   However, it lists transitions in the form n/a, where n is the next
   state and a represents the action.  The method in RFC 1661 is
   preferred as new state logically follows action.  In addition, RFC
   904's Appendix C models transitions as the Cartesian product of two
   state machines.  This is a more complex representation that may be

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   difficult to comprehend for those readers that are unfamiliar with
   the format.  We recommend that authors present tables as defined in
   the previous paragraph.

   A final method of representing state changes is by a time line.  The
   two sides of the time line represent the machines involved in the
   exchange.  The author lists the states the machines enter as time
   progresses (downward) along the outside of time line.  Within the
   time line, show the actions that cause the state transitions.  An

            client                                     server

               |                                          |
               |                                          |   LISTEN
   SYN_SENT    |-----------------------                   |
               |                       \ syn j            |
               |                        ----------------->|   SYN_RCVD
               |                                          |
               |                        ------------------|
               |        syn k, ack j+1 /                  |
   ESTABLISHED |<----------------------                   |
               |                                          |

4  Document Checklist

   The following is a checklist based on the above guidelines that can
   be applied to a document:

   o Does it identify the security risks?  Are countermeasures for each
     potential attack provided?  Are the effects of the security
     measures on the operating environment detailed?
   o Does it explain the purpose of the protocol or procedure?  Are the
     intended functions and services addressed?  Does it describe how it
     relates to existing protocols?
   o Does it consider scaling and stability issues?
   o Have procedures for assigning numbers been coordinated with IANA?
   o Does it discuss how to manage the protocol being specified?  Is a
     MIB defined?
   o Is a target audience defined?
   o Does it reference or explain the algorithms used in the protocol?
   o Does it give packet diagrams in recommended form, if applicable?
   o Is there a change log?
   o Does it describe differences from previous versions, if
   o Does it separate explanatory portions of the document from
   o Does it give examples of protocol operation?

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   o Does it specify behavior in the face of incorrect operation by
     other implementations?
   o Does it delineate which packets should be accepted for processing
     and which should be ignored?
   o If multiple descriptions of a requirement are given, does it
     identify one as binding?
   o How many optional features does it specify?  Does it separate them
     into option classes?
   o Have all combinations of options or option classes been examined
     for incompatibility?
   o Does it explain the rationale and use of options?
   o Have all mandatory and optional requirements be identified and
     documented by the accepted key words that define Internet
     requirement levels?
   o Does it conform to the current internationalization policies of
     the IETF?
   o Are the recommended meanings for common Internet terms used?
   o If not, are new or altered definitions for terms given in a

5  Security Considerations

   This document does not define a protocol or procedure that could be
   subject to an attack.  It establishes guidelines for the information
   that should be included in RFCs that are to be submitted to the
   standards track.  In the area of security, IETF standards authors are
   called on to define clearly the threats faced by the protocol and the
   way the protocol does or does not provide security assurances to the

6  References

   [RFC 791]   Postel, J., "Internet Protocol (IP)", STD 5, RFC 791
               September 1981.

   [RFC 904]   Mills, D., "Exterior Gateway Protocol formal
               specification", RFC 904, April 1984.

   [RFC 1058]  Hedrick, C., "Routing Information Protocol", STD 34,
               RFC 1058, June 1988.

   [RFC 1112]  Deering, S., "Host extensions for IP multicasting",
               STD 5, RFC 1112, August 1989.

   [RFC 1122]  Braden, R., "Requirements for Internet Hosts --
               Communication Layers", STD 3, RFC 1122, October 1989.

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   [RFC 1123]  Braden, R., "Requirements for Internet hosts --
               Application and Support", STD 3, RFC 1123, October 1989.

   [RFC 1311]  Postel, J., "Introduction to the STD Notes", RFC 1311,
               March 1992.

   [RFC 1350]  Sollins, K., "The TFTP Protocol (Revision 2)", STD 33,
               RFC 1350, July 1992.

   [RFC 1661]  Simpson, W., "The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)", STD 51,
               RFC 1661, July 1994.

   [RFC 1662]  Simpson, W., "PPP in HLDC-like Framing", STD 51, RFC 1662,
               July 1994.

   [RFC 1700]  Reynolds, J., and J. Postel, "Assigned Numbers", STD 2,
               RFC 1700, October 1994.  (http://www.iana.org)

   [RFC 1939]  Meyers, J., and M. Rose, "Post Office Protocol - Version
               3", STD 53, RFC 1939, May 1996.

   [RFC 1958]  Carpenter, B., "Architectural Principles of the Internet",
               RFC 1958, June 1996.

   [RFC 1983]  Malkin, G., "Internet Users' Glossary", FYI 18, RFC 1983,
               August 1996.

   [RFC 2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3",
               RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [RFC 2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
               Requirement Level", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC 2328]  Moy, J., "OSPF Version 2", STD 54, RFC 2328, April 1998.

   [RFC 2223]  Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC Authors",
               RFC 2223, October 1997.

   [RFC 2277]  Alvestrand, H., "IETF Policy on Character Sets and
               Language", RFC 2277, January 1998.

   [RFC 2316]  Bellovin, S., "Report of the IAB Security Architecture
               Workshop", RFC 2316, April 1998.

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7  Acknowledgments

   Peter Desnoyers and Art Mellor began the work on this document.
   Others that contributed were:

     Bernard Aboba
     Harald T. Alvestrand
     Fred Baker
     Scott Bradner
     Brian Carpenter
     Robert Elz
     Dirk Fieldhouse
     Dale Francisco
     Gary Malkin
     Neal McBurnett
     Thomas Narten
     Craig Partridge
     Vern Paxson
     Mike O'Dell
     Henning Schulzrinne
     Kurt Starsinic
     James Watt

8  Editor's Address

   Gregor D. Scott
   Director, Defense Information Systems Agency
   Ft. Monmouth, NJ  07703-5613

   Phone:    (732) 427-6856
   Fax:      (732) 532-0853
   EMail:    scottg@ftm.disa.mil

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9  Appendix


   The following changes were made following IESG review:

   References to RFC 1543 were changed to RFC 2223 that obsoleted it.

   In section 2.1, "export control" was dropped as a valid reason for
   not selecting a security mechanism.  In addition, ambiguous or
   conflicting sentences were removed.

   In section 2.1 reference made to RFC 2315 as an additional source of

   Section 2.5 was changed to highlight the Change Log's purpose as
   assistance to implementers.

   The IANA Considerations section (2.13) was rewritten to highlight
   that the IANA guidelines document is work in progress but should be
   used when it becomes available.

   Section 3.4 Character Sets was deleted and replaced by section 2.17

   Spelling and grammar corrections were made.


   A sentence pointing to a pending document that further addresses IANA
   considerations was added to section 2.13.  The current draft of that
   document is draft-iesg-iana-considerations-02.txt.  A clause stating
   that the IANA established the assignment policies was removed since it
   appeared to conflict with the intent of the referenced ID.
   Placeholders for the BCP and RFC number have been added to the text
   and reference section.

   A new section (2.5) requiring change logs as documents progress along
   the standards track was added.

   References to RFC 2044 were changed to RFC 2279 that obsoleted it.

   Spelling and grammar corrections were made.


   A paragraph pointing to a pending document that further addresses
   security was updated.

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10  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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