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Federalist + U.S. Web Design System + Jekyll

This Jekyll theme is developed using the U.S. Web Design System v 2.0 and is focused on providing developers a starter kit and reference implementation for Federalist websites.

This code uses the Jekyll site engine and built with Ruby. If you prefer to use Javascript, check out federalist-uswds-gatsby, which uses Gatsby site engine.

This project strives to be compliant with requirements set by 21st Century IDEA Act. The standards require that a website or digital service:

  • is accessible to individuals with disabilities;
  • has a consistent appearance;
  • does not duplicate any legacy websites (the legislation also requires agencies to ensure that legacy websites are regularly reviewed, removed, and consolidated);
  • has a search function;
  • uses an industry standard secure connection;
  • “is designed around user needs with data-driven analysis influencing management and development decisions, using qualitative and quantitative data to determine user goals, needs, and behaviors, and continually test the website, web-based form, web-based application, or digital service to ensure that user needs are addressed;”
  • allows for user customization; and
  • is mobile-friendly.

Comparison with uswds-jekyll

Both start off looking very similar, but differ in what use cases they are best for. Are you:

  • Wanting to have a starter template that you can highly customize?
  • Comfortable editing HTML and CSS source code?

use federalist-uswds-jekyll (this repository). If you:

  • Want to use a theme that you can set and forget
  • Are ok with sticking with the general look and feel provided

use uswds-jekyll.

Key Functionality

This repository contains the following examples and functionality:

Publish blog posts, press releases, announcements, etc. To modify this code, check out blog/index.html, which manages how the posts are listed. You should then check out _layouts/post.html to see how individual posts are structured.

Publish single one-off pages. Instead of creating lots of folders throughout the root directory, you should put single pages in _pages folder and change the permalink at the top of each page. Use sub-folders only when you really need to.

Publish data (for example: job listings, links, references), you can use the template _layouts/data.html. Just create a file in you _pages folder with the following options:

title: Collections Page
layout: data
permalink: /collections
datafile: collections

The reference to datafile referers to the name of the file in _data/collections.yml and loops through the values. Feel free to modify this as needed.

There are two different kinds of pages, one does not have a side bar navigation, and the other uses _includes/sidenav.html. You can enable this option by adding sidenav: true to your page front matter.

title: Document with Sidenav
layout: page
sidenav: true
permalink: /document-with-sidenav
--- integration - Once you have registered and configured for your site by following these instructions, add your "affiliate" and "access key" to _config.yml. Ex.


  # You should not change this.

  # replace this with your account
  affiliate: federalist-uswds-example

  # replace with your access key
  access_key: xX1gtb2RcnLbIYkHAcB6IaTRr4ZfN-p16ofcyUebeko=

  # this renders the results within the page instead of sending to user to
  inline: true

The logic for using can be found in _includes/searchgov/form.html and supports displaying the results inline or sending the user to the view the results. This setting defaults to "inline" but can be changed by setting

  inline: false

in _config.yml.

Digital Analytics Program (DAP) integration - Once you have registered your site with DAP add your "agency" and optionally, subagency to _config.yml and uncomment the appropriate lines. Ex.

  # agency: your-agency

  # Optional
  # subagency: your-subagency

Google Analytics integration - If you have a Google Analytics account to use, add your "ua" to _config.yml and uncomment the appropriate lines. Ex.

  # ua: your-ua

How to edit

  • Non-developers should focus on editing markdown content in the _posts and _pages folder

  • We try to keep configuration options to a minimum so you can easily change functionality. You should review _config.yml to see the options that are available to you. There are a few values on top that you need to change. They refer to the agency name and contact information. The rest of _config.yml has a range of more advanced options.

  • The contents inside assets/ folder store your Javascript, SCSS/CSS, images, and other media assets are managed by jekyll-assets. Assets are combined, compressed, and automatically available in your theme

  • If you look at package.json you will see that the npm run federalist command that will run when running on the Federalist platform.

  • Do not edit files in the _site/ folder. These files are auto-generated, and any change you make in the folder will be overwritten.

  • To edit the look and feel of the site, you need to edit files in _includes/ folder, which render key components, like the menu, side navigation, and logos.

  • index.html may not require much editing, depending on how you customize hero.html and highlights.html.

  • _layouts/ may require the least amount of editing of all the files since they are primarily responsible for printing the content.

  • blog/index.html can be edited, but be careful. It will impact the pagination system for the posts. If you do edit the file, be prepared to edit _config.yml. For example, you may need go change configurations for jekyll-paginate-v2

  • search/index.html is used by

Getting Started

Easy mode

From Federalist

This will create a copy of this repo in a Github repository of your choice and add it to your Federalist dashboard.

  • From Federalist click the "+ Add Site" button.
  • Click the "Use this template" button for the appropriate template
  • Follow the instructions

From Github

This will create a copy of this repo in a Github repository of your choice but you will need to add it your Federalist dashboard.

  • Click the "Use this template" button above or here.
  • Follow the instructions
  • Return to Federalist and add the repository.

Hard mode

With npx (requires node)

$ npx degit <destination-folder>
$ cd <destination-folder>

Push to your Github repository

    $ git init
    $ git symbolic-ref HEAD refs/heads/main
    $ git add . && git commit -m 'Initial commit'
    $ git remote add origin<your-org>/<your-repo>.git
    (Make sure to replace `<your-org>` and `<your-repo>` above with the correct values)
    $ git push -u origin main

Installation for development

$ git clone
$ cd federalist-uswds-jekyll

Running the application

With locally installed node and ruby

$ npm install
$ bundle install
$ npm start 
$ bundle exec jekyll serve

To build but not serve the site, run npm run build or bundle exec jekyll build.

With Docker

$ docker-compose run node npm install
$ docker-compose build
$ docker-compose up

To build but not serve the site, run:

docker-compose run ruby bundle exec jekyll build


Note that when built by Federalist, npm run federalist is used instead of npm run build.

Open your web browser to localhost:4000 to view your site.


With locally installed node and ruby

$ npm test
$ bundle exec htmlproofer _site; npx a11y '_site/**/*.html'

With Docker

$ docker-compose run ruby bundle exec htmlproofer _site; npx a11y '_site/**/*.html'

Technologies you should be familiarize yourself with

  • Jekyll - The primary site engine that builds your code and content.
  • Front Matter - The top of each page/post includes keywords within -- tags. This is meta data that helps Jekyll build the site, but you can also use it to pass custom variables.
  • U.S. Web Design System v 2.0


See CONTRIBUTING for additional information.

Public domain

This project is in the worldwide public domain. As stated in CONTRIBUTING:

This project is in the public domain within the United States, and copyright and related rights in the work worldwide are waived through the CC0 1.0 Universal public domain dedication.

All contributions to this project will be released under the CC0 dedication. By submitting a pull request, you are agreeing to comply with this waiver of copyright interest.