Why APIs Aren't Enough At BusinessUSA.gov

Staff Writer | AOL Gov | July 2, 2012

BusinessUSA connects businesses to many government services and information. It does that primarily by providing access to APIs – the instructions that allow software applications to exchange information – but APIs only involve the transfer of data and do not provide a user interface to actually see the data.

Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel has said, "Everything should be an API," but a recent FCW article suggests that his open data strategy and Digital Government Strategy may have some limitations because of that.

Eric Mill, Web and mobile developer for Sunlight Labs, an arm of the prominent transparency group Sunlight Foundation, wrote in a March 21 blog entry on the Sunlight Labs Blog that APIs should be used to supplement, not displace, the availability of direct data downloads to the public. Mill presented several reasons why direct data downloads are still the best default strategy. For one, developing government APIs to distribute data might actually limit flexibility for users of the data, Mill wrote...