Skip to main content

An API-First Data Portal

Finally, [agency] requires that the source of data used in the site be the outbound API.

As part of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, the Treasury Department was required to ‘improve the quality of data submitted to USASpending.gov.’ To do this, Treasury included API-first language in its solicitation for a new USASpending.gov. An API-first approach separates the presentation of data on USASpending.gov from the source of the data. But it also follows a key tenet of API design, namely that ‘the #1 best way to understand and address the weaknesses in an API’s design and implementation is to use it in a production system.

This approach has many architectural advantages. It promotes consistency in data publication. It ensures that future changes can be made to USASpending.gov with minimal expense when user needs change (i.e., reduces technical debt). It allows other government websites (such as internal data dashboards) or other web services to connect to the data directly from the source (i.e., improves extensibility). Finally, it should help improve performance and security by allowing the developers to optimize the API instead of optimizing both an API and a separate application.

In sum, an API-first approach is a great choice when you have data you plan to present on a website or portal. If nothing else, it will reduce headaches later when you decide to change your site, which–trust me–you will.

Ingredients

Directions