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  1. Service manual
  2. Technology
  3. Application programming interfaces (APIs)

An application programming interface (API) is a piece of software that lets one program access or control another program. APIs allow applications to share data without requiring developers to share software code.

You should follow these guidelines to build and maintain your APIs.

Use GDS API standards

GDS API data and technical standards guidance helps government departments and local authorities create robust APIs. The standards promote development consistency, increase efficiency, reduce costs and provide better digital public services.

How to host your API

You can host your APIs on [api-name].api.gov.uk. Email api-domain-requests@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk for more information about using this.

What to consider when depending on third-party APIs

By depending on a third-party API, you could tie your service’s availability to that of the third party. In some cases this may be acceptable. But, you need to make sure you have a backup plan in place.

The details of that backup will vary depending on your service. You may need to:

  • offer users the opportunity to use an alternative service
  • queue an action to take place later
  • have an alternative system in place

If a third-party API failure affects your service, you should be clear with your users about what’s happening and find ways to limit the effect on users.

Prepare a communications plan in advance. This could include having things like email templates in place and a list of who you need to contact should problems arise.

Published by:
Technology community (technical architecture)
Last update:

Guidance first published