11 Aug 2017
I’m going to borrow, modify, and improve on the content from api.data.gov, because it is an important effort I want my readers to be aware of, because I want more of them to help apply educate other federal agencies regarding why it is a good idea to bake api.data.gov into their API operations, and help apply pressure until EVERY federal agency is up and running using a common API management layer.
Ok, so what is api.data.gov? api.data.gov is a free API management service for federal agencies. Our aim is to make it easier for you to release and manage your APIs. api.data.gov acts as a layer above your existing APIs. It transparently adds extra functionality to your APIs and helps deal with some of the repetitive parts of managing APIs.
Here are the features of api.data.gov:
- You’re in control: You still have complete control of building and hosting your APIs however you like.
- No changes required: No changes are required to your API, but when it’s accessed through api.data.gov, we’ll transparently add features and handle the boring stuff.
- Focus on the APIs: You’re freed from worrying about things like API keys, rate limiting, and gathering usage stats, so you can focus on building the next great API.
- Make it easy for your users: By providing a standard entry point to participating APIs, it’s easier for developers to explore and use APIs across the federal government.
api.data.gov handles the API keys for you:
- API key signup: It’s quick and easy for users to signup for an API key and start using it immediately.
- Shared across services: Users can reuse their API key across all participating api.data.gov APIs.
- No coding required: No code changes are required to your API. If your API is being hit through api.data.gov, you can simply assume it’s from a valid user.
api.data.gov tracks all the traffic to your API and give you tools to easily analyze it:
- Demonstrate value: Understand how your API is being used so you can gauge the value and success of your APIs.
- Visualize usage and trends: View graphs of the overall usage trends for your APIs.
- Flexible querying: Drill down into the stats based on any criteria. Find out how much traffic individual users are generating, or answer more complex questions about aggregate usage.
- Monitor API performance: We gather metrics on the speed of your API, so you can keep an eye on how your API is performing.
- No coding required: No code changes are required to your API. If your API is being hit through api.data.gov, we can take care of logging the necessary details. Documentation
api.data.gov helps with publishing documentation for your API:
- Hosted or linked: We can host the documentation of your API, or, if you already have your own developer portal, we can simply link to it.
- One stop shop: As more agencies add APIs to api.data.gov, users will be able to discover and explore more government APIs all at one destination.
api.data.gov helps you rate limit because you might not want to allow all users to have uncontrolled access to your APIs:
- Prevent abuse: Your API servers won’t see traffic from users exceeding their limits, preventing additional load on your servers.
- Per user limits: Individual users can be given higher or lower rate limits.
- No coding required: No code changes are required to your API. If your API is being hit, you can simply assume it’s from a user that hasn’t exceeded their rate limits.
api.data.gov is powered by the open source project API Umbrella. You can contribute to the development of this platform, or setup your own instance and run the entire stack yourself. If you’re interested in exploring any of this for your APIs, please contact us. In general, it’s easy to take any existing API your agency has (or is in the process of building) and put api.data.gov in front of it. This can be an easy way to get started and see what type of functionality api.data.gov might provide for your API.
api.data.gov is all about consistent API management across federal government, which means developers will be able to get at government data, content, and algorithms more efficiently, and integrate them into web, mobile, and other applications. We need more government agencies to be doing this, taking advantage of api.data.gov and get to work developing an awareness around who is consuming their API resources. Eventually API management will be how government agencies will be generating revenue on top of valuable API resources, charging commercial users enough so that each agency can cover the costs of operations, and hopefully make more of an investment in the resources they are making available.