What's an API?
An application programming interface (API) is an interface that enables safe and reliable software communication. It allows 2 pieces of software to work with each other even if they weren't originally designed to interact.
When APIs are made available, software developers can use standardised tools to get data from a system, modify it as required, and use it somewhere else. APIs are often used to automate manual processes or to create new tools altogether.
APIs may be internal to a government agency, shared with trusted partners or out to the public.
What do we recommend?
The Victorian Government takes an API-first approach. This approach favours the use of APIs in most integration scenarios.
We recommend including an API with every Victorian Government online service, where possible.
APIs won’t always be the most appropriate integration style for all data. Victorian Government agencies should get in touch with to discuss the suitability of APIs to deliver on their business requirements.
Why APIs are important
APIs are a core part of many of the leading websites and mobile apps that Victorians use every day. They:
- enable software applications to make data discoverable to other applications and
- allow developers to use that data in new and innovative ways.
APIs help us to:
- Share data: Providing information and services through web APIs supports interoperability and openness. Well-designed APIs make data freely available for use within agencies, between agencies, in the private sector and by citizens.
- Increase reach: Reach more users by allowing other agencies, partners and the private sector to integrate – and amplify – your agency’s data, transactions and content.
- Save time: Use automation to update data or content once and your API can automatically refresh in multiple locations on a website, mobile platforms and social media platforms.
- Save money: Allow third-party innovators to create and share new, useful products and services beyond the scope – or budget – of your agency.
- Speed up product development: Allowing granular and open access to content improves prototyping and access for collaboration.
- Build markets: Assist entrepreneurs to develop products and services with access to government resources.
- Empower citizens: Open access enables external developers to build their own versions of online government services.
What standards must be met
We're sharing these standards to promote consistency and standardisation in APIs and encourage the use of APIs in government.
Most of the standards are only recommended, although there are some mandatory requirements that ensure a base delivery level.
The Victorian Government API Gateway and Developer.vic portal
We created the API Gateway and Developer.vic portal to provide a single access point to government APIs.
The API Gateway
The API Gateway allows Victorian government agencies and trusted third parties to securely share, re-use and enhance data in real-time. It allows API producers to:
- make their APIs discoverable to API consumers
- control who has access to their APIs
The API portal
It provides tools and resources for developers to:
- access the API Gateway
- integrate government data
- explore a growing catalogue of trusted government APIs
- see how APIs are being used across government
We also provide a range of end-to-end integration support services, including:
- API strategy development
- API design and build
- API hosting
Contact the API team
Related how-to guides
Reviewed 19 August 2019