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Announcing the /Developer Program: a new hub for federal API creators

We recently launched our /Developer Program (pronounced “slash developer”) to help federal agencies develop useful, robust APIs. The Program is a collection of educational resources, opportunities to engage the community for help and feedback, and tools that can help you build APIs — essentially an ever-growing knowledge base curated by 18F.

We affectionately named the /Developer Program after the common practice of providing API documentation and links on government websites at website.gov/developer.1

We use the term “launched” liberally though, because this has been a labor of love over the past year or more for the digital gov community. APIs are basically a way for two programs to share information or perform an action,2 and they continue to play an increasingly fundamental role across the web. There are now almost 100 developer hubs that provide access to hundreds of web services across government.

Education

Whether you’re new to APIs or have years of experience, the site’s list of educational resources can help you better understand the role that APIs can play for your agency as well as explain them to your colleagues. These resources include API definitions and analogies, training, best practices, talking points, FAQs, and case studies in case you need inspiration or examples.

Community and collaboration

The best way to improve and promote your agency’s APIs is to get involved with API producers at other agencies and the developers who use your APIs. The site offers links to meetups and other API events, as well as our API Usability Testing program where agencies demo their APIs to real users and customers to get their feedback. We also provide examples of excellent government APIs, sample policy and contract language for building APIs, and links to good API standards and guidelines.

Tools and resources

We are compiling a list of open source tools and resources to help you actually build your APIs, including data converters, standards, developer kits, and more. There are hosted tools that can take data in a spreadsheet file and instantly make it available as a RESTful API. For enterprise needs, a powerful API proxy offers key management and analytics functionality for any agency’s use.

Please feel free to provide feedback and suggest additional resources; the entire /Developer Program is an open source project on GitHub.

  1. This was recommended in the Digital Government Strategy.

  2. Credit: @svt827