Structured Text Interchange Format (STIF)

Document Type Expired Internet-Draft (individual)
Author Dave Crocker 
Last updated 1993-06-09
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This Internet-Draft is no longer active. A copy of the expired Internet-Draft can be found at


Various applications need to exchange structured information, such as business-card contact information, bibliographic citations, and structured forms and replies. ASN.1 [ISO87] is a commonly accepted framework for producing binary encoding of information. However, Internet data exchanges often take place in a textual environment, such as electronic mail. In these cases, it would be helpful to have conventions for encoding structured information so that it is entirely legible as text, but sufficiently structured to allow machine processing. This document specifies Structured Text Interchange Format (STIF), a syntax for encoding attribute/value pairs. The pairs can be collected into multi-part sequences and nested sub-lists. The syntax provides for user-defined extensions and for references to data from within sequences and sub-lists. While STIF can be generally compared with ASN.1/BER, it attempts much simpler encoding. In particular, it is strictly text-based and it does not provide for specification of a value's data type.


Dave Crocker (

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