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Open Standards Board makes choices on tabular data and APIs

04/10/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Government bodies have been provided with two specific standards in the publication of tabular data and the use of APIs.

Binary code over fingers typing

The Open Standards Board, which advises the Cabinet Office on relevant issues, has completed reviews and pointed to the use of the RFC standard to publish tabular data and the OpenAPI 3 specification for RESTful API descriptions.

These are aimed at making it easier for organisations to publish and reuse data, and to promote the consistent and accurate description of RESTful APIs.

Writing in blogpost, Government Digital Service technical adviser Lawrence Greenwood says the FRC 4810 standard has been designed to overcome problems in the use of CSV files, a popular way of exchanging columns and numbers of text between software. The lack of a standard has made it difficult to reuse published data, which prompted a challenge on the GitHub platform to produce one.

It has resulted in a document describing a standard format for CSV files, with some items left as optional, which should make it possible to use them in a wide selection of software tools without editing first. This should make it easier for people to use government open data.

API spec

The OpenAPI 3 specification only applies to describing APIs and generating reference information, but it should make it easier for developers to understand an API and what it can do.

It has been recommended following research on the most common way to describe RESTful APIs and how the relevant tools have developed.

A RESTful API is based on a representational state transfer technology, often used in web services development as it does not create a heavy demand for bandwidth.

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