The Path To Production For Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) API Applications

This post is part of my ongoing review of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) developer portal and API presence, moving on to where I take a closer look at their path to production process, and provide some feedback on how the agency can continue to refine the information they provide to their new developers. Helping map out the on-boarding process for any new developer, ensuring they are fully informed about what it will take to develop an application on top of VA APIs, and move those application(s) from a developer state to a production environment, and actually serving veterans.

Beginning with the VA’s base path to production template on GitHub, then pulling in some elements I found across the other APIs they have published to developer.va.gov, and finishing off with some ideas of my own, I shifted the outline for the path to production to look something like this:

  • Background - Keeping the background of the VA API program.
  • [API Overview] - Any information relevant to specific API(s).
  • Applications - One right now, but eventually several applications, SDK, and samples.
  • Documentation - The link, or embedded access to the API documentation, OpenAPI definition, and Postman Collection.
  • Authentication - Overview of how to authenticate with VA APIs.
  • Development Access - Provide an overview of signing up for development access.
  • Developer Review - What is needed to become a developer.
    • Individual - Name, email, and phone.
    • Business - Name, URL.
    • Location - In country, city, and state.
  • Application Review - What is needed to have an application(s).
    • Terms of Service - In alignment with platform TOS.
    • Privacy Policy - In alignment with platform TOS.
    • Rate Limits - Aware of the rate limits that are imposed.
  • Production Access - What happens once you have production access.
  • Support & Engagement - Using support, and expected levels of engagement.
  • Service Level Agreement - Platform working to meet an SLA governing engagement.
  • Monthly Review - Providing monthly reviews of access and usage on platform.
  • Annual Audits - Annual audits of access, and usage, with developer and application reviews.

I wanted to keep much of the content that the VA already had up there, but I also wanted to reorganize things a little bit, and make some suggestions for what might be next. Resulting in a path production section that might look a little more like this.