GDS launches API for GOV.UK content

Release of beta version provides latest move in encouraging re-use of government data

The Government Digital Service (GDS) launched an API for content from GOV.UK as a step towards making more open data available from government sources.

Grey blocks and numbers abstractIt has launched the API, which enables third parties to draw on data from the central government web platform in developing new applications, as beta that could be subject to change.

This replaces the previous arrangement under which the API was technically available but was not officially supported for external use.

In addition, it has committed to the international Open Governments Partnership to provide APIs for government content as part of the UK Open Government National Action Plan.

The move has been outlined in a blogpost that says it has been done to make access to GOV.UK content as easy as possible.

Open standard

Content has been documented using version three of the OpenAPI specification, which is the proposed open standard for government, and the results will be fed back to the Open Standards team at GDS. The organisation’s tech writing team is developing guidance and will provide training on the documentation.

The initiative has also involved the use of two tools already used in GDS: the GOV.UK tech docs template for building technical documentation and Widdershins to help generate the markdown.

With the launch of the API, the team has begun to use Google Analytics to track hits to the API and its documentation microsite and analyse trends. There is also a feedback facility and any data used is being anonymised.

“This presents a massive opportunity for us to learn from users and evolve the offering of the API,” says the blog.