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Data.gov pilots an easier way to manage agency APIs

Data.gov is offering a new API management service intended to make it easier for agencies to release their application programming interfaces to developers.

The service, api.data.gov, is in the pilot stage — but at a point where the Data.gov team is looking for agencies to use the service and provide feedback, according to an announcement via Google Groups from Nick Muerdter of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

As part of the administration’s Open Government Initiative, agencies have been making data sets available on Data.gov and in many cases providing APIs, which help developers make use of the data by defining how software components should fit together. Data.gov keeps a catalog of APIs, listed by agency.

The new management service aims to help developers use APIs from across agencies boundaries, Muerdter wrote, by handling such things as API keys, usage analytics and documentation. It functions as a transparent layer atop existing APIs and, according to the api.data.gov site “helps deal with some of the repetitive parts of managing APIs.”

Agencies using the service retain full control of their APIs — and can put all of their APIs into the service or start out by trying just one — while the service will “handle the boring stuff,” according to the service’s website.

Among its features are:

API keys: Users who sign up for a key can then use that key for all participating APIs. And because they’re being managed by api.data.gov, agencies can assume that all hits are from valid users.

Analytics: The service takes care of tracking usage, offering graphs on usage trends and the ability to drill down into statistics and metrics on API performance.

Documentation: The service can host API documentation or, if an agency has its own developer portal, provide a link to it.

Rate limiting: Participants can set high or low rate limits for individual users and avoid server overloads that might be caused by users exceeding their limits.

Anyone looking to take part in the pilot can contact the team from the api.data.gov page.

Posted by Kevin McCaney on Aug 02, 2013 at 7:00 AM


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