Thursday, March 12, 2009

Formatting Internet-Drafts for the Amazon Kindle

The 74th IETF meeting is coming fast and it is time to start reading the latest version of all the Internet-Drafts relevant to the sessions one plan to attend. I counted 70 documents in my case, and that's a lot of reading. Printing all this documents is bad for the environment but it is so far the easier way to manage this task especially because it is easy to annotate them directly with a pen. Reading on a laptop is not as convenient and does not make annotations easy.

I was thinking since few IETF meetings that my Kindle would be ideal for this task. It is small enough to be easily carried around, does not need to be recharged as often as a laptop, and permits to annotate documents. Unfortunately the text formatting of an Internet-Draft does not look very good on a Kindle, as it is optimized for text console with 80 columns.

So I wrote a converter that take in input a RFC 2629-formatted Internet-Draft and convert it to a .mobi document that displays nicely on a Kindle. I would have been happy to write an XSLT script for this task but unfortunately the Kindle cannot display correctly tables or some special formatting needed by IETF documents, so I used Java to generate the tables as images. The code is not very smart yet, but I was able to convert my 3 current I-Ds to .mobi files and they can be downloaded here:

http://ietf.implementers.org/

This will not solve the problem of reading all this drafts soon because very few authors upload the RFC 2629 version of their draft to the IETF website, but I hope that this will encourage people to start doing it.
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