Turning Forms Into APIs: Crap In, Crap Out

I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations lately around turning government forms into APIs. Which seems like a great idea, right up until the part where I’m thinking about the original workflow represented by many legacy forms, and realize that maybe this form was a bad idea to begin with.

If I develop an API for a form, and the original form all by itself is a bad idea, am I just making a bad idea worse, by attaching an API to it? I'd say yes!

I don’t feel like this will be true in all situations. I think APIs will allow us to hopefully break free of what the original intent of a form was, explore new opportunities for gathering and managing data, and changing the concept of what a form is.

Even with the potential, I can’t help but think APIs on forms may not be good in all scenarios. Then again, this isn’t just limited to forms, before we attach an API to anything, we should probably think—is this a good idea?