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Data Standards Authority works on federated APIs

API cloud
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The Data Standards Authority (DSA) is exploring the potential for a federated approach to enable government bodies to discover and share application programme interfaces (APIs).

This would be used an alternative to the existing central API catalogue that contains many APIs published by public sector organisations. 

DSA developer Bethan Palmer has outlined the plan in a blogpost, saying it is part of the effort to reduce the duplication of APIs in government, make them easier to find and improve security. It also reflects the DSA’s open standards approach to dealing with the issue.

The federated approach would involve departments creating their own API catalogues that would conform to standards and be interoperable, enabling them to see what each other holds. There would still be a central catalogue of cross-government APIs.

As part of this, the DSA is working on a metadata model to define what attributes an API should have, and emphasising that it should be re-usable. It has begun to work on a proof of concept for the model and created a set of schemas it is using to build a Java Spring Boot app.

Endpoints and parsing

“This will be an API with endpoints for returning metadata about other APIs and loading new entries, as well as being able to parse external services for data,” Palmer said.

There are also plans to add API linting of the specification – the process of ensuring they are technically correct and comply with guidelines – and in the long run to develop a linting tool.

“We’re hoping this will be a means to providing faster and more immediate feedback that will help people follow the DSA’s API guidance, and that more issues will be caught by developers before the API assessment stage,” Palmer said.

The central API catalogue was launched by the Government Digital Service in 2019 and currently contains contributions from 31 organisations and an individual theme on borders.


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