RFC is an acronym for Request For Comments, which is a series of organizational and technical documents containing specification and policies pertaining to the different aspects of the Internet such as computer networking, protocols, procedures, programs, and concepts, meeting notes, and opinions (and even humor) from the authors. RFC's are prepared by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF).
The Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) funded research on advance computers and network technologies during the 1960s, which led to the development of ARPANET, the first wide area packet switching network, or in simple words, the first Internet.
It was in 1968, when the ARPANET research was in full progress wherein researchers and computer scientists met regularly to discuss the progress of their work, technical standards, Internet design and architecture, and many other aspects of computing and networking. The Group called themselves as the Network Working Group. It was in February of 1969 during a meeting in Utah with the BBN when the Network Working Group realized that they needed to start writing down their discussions.
The term "Request For Comments" was first used by Steve Crocker when he volunteered to organize the notes written by the Network Working Group to give emphasis to their basic ground rule that "anyone can say anything and nothing was official" Crocker wrote the first RFC entitled "Host Software" on April 7, 1969. Crocker was part of the UCLA Team along with Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, Bill Naylor, and Mike Wingfield responsible for creating the protocols of the ARPANET, which became the foundation of today's Internet.
The RFC became a very convenient and useful method for recording all the details and technical information carried out by the Network Working Group in their research. It became the official document of the Network Working Group.
The RFCs has different categories, which include:
- Standard, Draft Standard and Proposed Standard
- Best Current Practice
RFC Series Editor
The RFC Series Editor is responsible for editing, cataloging, and publishing the RFC series of documents regarding computer communications. Jon Postel, was the original Editor of RFC Series. He was the RFC editor for 28 years. Joyce Reynolds succeeded as RFC Editor in 1998 due to the sudden death of Postel. Reynolds had been working with Postel in editing the RFC's and managing IANA since 1983. The sudden death of Postel prompted USC-ISI to make necessary changes in the process of publishing the RFC Series to ensure the continuity of the quality and accessibility of the documents. USC-ISI developed the Procedures Manual for the RFC Editor.
The operations of the RFC Editor were originally funded by the Defense Advanced research Project Agency, which lasted until 1988. The Internet Society (ISOC) took over the funding for the RFC Editor in 1988. The RFC Editor was a part of the University of California Information Sciences Institute(USC-ISI) from 1977 to 2009. The Association Management Solutions, LLC (AMS). is the current entity that handles the RFC Editor project.
Functions of the RFC Series Editor
The responsibilities of the RFC Series Editor as define by the by RFC 2026 (The Internet Standards Process - Revision 3), RFC 4844 (The RFC Series and RFC Editor), RFC 4846 (Independent Submissions to the RFC Editor) and RFC 5620 (RFC Editor Model Version 1). include:
- Determine the right steps to ensure the continuity of the RFC Series.
- Exercise executive-level management in implementing policies, processes, and procedures that are created to maintain the quality and consistency of the RFC Series. He or she will also work with the RSAG whenever necessary, the IAB and IAOC to to develop new policy and ensure that contractual agreements are met.
- Introduce the proposed changes to the Internet community to make sure that there is enough community participation in reviewing the new policy proposals before the IAB adopts or implements certain policy changes.
- Coordinate with the IAB, IAOC the reviews and functions undertaken by RFC Publisher, RFC Production Center, and Independent Submission Editor to maintain continuity.
- Develop, maintain and publish the RFC Style Manual to be used by authors, editors, stream managers, RFC Production Center including the RFC Publisher.
- Manage the RFC errata process.
- Serve as liaison to the IAB.
- Supervise the consistency of RFCs with the RFC Series and RFC Style Manual.
Important Groups to the RFC Series
The two important groups that plays a significant role to the RFC Series include:
- Independent Submissions Editorial Board (ISEB)- is responsible for reviewing independent submissions by entities relevant to the Internet community but outside the official process of the IETF, IAB and IRTF.
- RFC Series Advisory Group (RSAG)- is assigned by the IAB to provide informed guidance about the development and operations of the RFC Series.