skip navigation
search

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) compiles regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies — part of the executive branch. But that regulatory power is grounded in legislative power. At some point, some Congress — drunk or sober —passed a law enabling the agency to make such a rule.

And sometimes, reading through the laws, you want to know more than what the rule currently is. You want to know where it came from. You want to know…

Who authorized this?!

So, as one of the basic features of the CFR we provide hyperlinks from each regulation to the point in the U.S. Code which provides the basis for its rule-making authority. This week we restored those links to the eCFR text.

Here’s an example. According to federal regulations, schools can’t share your grades with your parents once you’re a grown-up, which is how you managed to keep that D+ in History 101 from Daddy (thank goodness!). But who said they could do that? If you look at the hyperlinks for “authority”, you’ll get to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (with various later amendments). So before 1974, that D+ was fair game, which was why Grandaddy grounded Daddy for a month that one time.

Of course there are a bunch of nitpicky details to take care of in order to mark up the authorities correctly. More on that soon.

 

Sometimes the littlest features have the biggest impact.

Some small tweak can vastly enhance the user experience.

Consider, for example, a small but powerful technology:

the indent.

Why do we indent the eCFR?

Hey, the government doesn’t indent their version?

Why do we?

There are reasons.

In a very complex document, indents help you

read better;

see better;

understand better.

Indents

guide the eye

make visible

the shape of the ideas

and the structure

behind the text.

It’s like in school when they taught you to outline.

(Remember outlines?

(Remember school??))

They taught you to put things in an outline format:

I.

A.

1.

a.

etc.

To help you understand

the structure

of the ideas

you were outlining.

The ECFR has a hierarchical structure.

Its natural, inherent structure contains sections

and subsections.

By laying those out visually

we help guide not only

your eye

but also

your mind.

We indent… so you can read.

 

As our regular readers will know, one of the LII’s most-used collections is the Code of Federal Regulations, which is an online version of the official compilation of the regulations published in the Federal Register.  Our edition has lots of useful features, but we’ve regularly gotten one big complaint: it’s out of date. (Our online text is based on the published book, which can be up to a full year behind.)

Well, those seeking up-to-the-minute regulations (well, up-to-the-last-few-days, anyway) are in luck.  The Office of the Federal Register and the GPO have made available, in bulk,  a machine-readable (XML) text of the eCFR, the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.  The eCFR is unofficial, but it is very much up to date.

So, in order to satisfy  those of you who have been eager to get the latest in great tasting, less-filling, fresh-from-the-oven regulations, we are going to be rolling out our new edition of the CFR, based on the up-to-date eCFR XML,  as we go.  We have put the bare-bones text up as quickly as possible.  Many of you have told us how much you like the value we add to our editions — rest assured that we  will be adding in all the features you value just as soon as we can adapt them to the new data format. While we’re renovating, “CFR Classic” will continue to be available.

Stay tuned on this blog for details about the process of designing, developing, and implementing those features, as well as announcements when they are up and running.  And let us know what you’d like to see added – we always love to hear from you!

Oh, look, the LII left the garage door open. What a clunker; looks like the wheels are about to fall off. Hey, is this the hood release?  I probably shouldn’t… oh, why not. <click /> Let’s see what’s under here…

Hi!  Welcome to our new technical blog, LII: Under the Hood. We’re starting this blog to show you how the features you see on the web site actually work, to give you a peek at our development process, and to let you get to know some of our awesome software engineers in the process.

In future posts we’ll be showing you things that most give us a sad details of our technical challenges, previewing new features we’re working on, inviting you to send us feedback, and letting you figure out where all that scary-looking smoke is coming from.  

So, welcome – enjoy this peek under the hood.  Make sure to leave us a note when you’re done looking!

Maybe I shouldn’t turn this thing on.  But it’s just this little chromium switch here