Federalist is a compliant open source static site web publishing service for the United States federal government. It provides templates for websites and access to cloud-based infrastructure for high-scale hosting, among other features.
The team at 18F builds and maintains it as a service available to federal government agencies. We also use Federalist to host many of our own websites.
Why static websites?
Federalist generates static websites instead of using a more complex content management system (CMS) like Drupal or Wordpress. There are several advantages to static websites:
Less complexity and vulnerability Avoiding CMSs means avoiding problems like maintaining dynamic server applications (no PHP or Apache / IIS) and database scaling and redundancy. Production-level static sites generally require one simple static file server or service as opposed to dozens. This means that the whole website is easier to maintain and has fewer vulnerabilities.
Update content without writing code Static websites store content in simple text files that anyone on the team can edit. The GitHub editor provides a way for basic editing of these files without needing to write code.
Easy to host and maintain It’s very easy to host static website files. You can easily take advantage of scaling services like Amazon S3 where you pay only for what you use.
Fully customizable Designers and developers can customize static websites into whatever form they want without having to strip away CMS-provided features and defaults. Static sites can be used to build many different types of sites, from organization homepages or intranets to pre-generated web application program interfaces that display data from a separate server.
What can I build with Federalist?
Federalist provides ready-to-use templates for several common website types. You can also use custom website templates based on Jekyll. 18F maintains many Jekyll-based websites that you can fork and adopt.
Possible sites include:
A simple homepage for your government organization with information about personnel and contact information.
Data visualization sites that pull data from a separate API server (Federalist does not provide API servers).
A single page with information about a recently released report that may receive a lot of traffic.
Here are a few examples of Federalist websites in production:
If you have a project that you think would be a good fit for Federalist, please let us know.