Gray Brooks

Exciting Additions to Analytics.usa.gov

We’ve expanded analytics.usa.gov to include 15(!) more agency-specific dashboard pages. We now offer agency-specific analytics data pages for a total of 25 major federal agencies, and each one is accessible from the dropdown menu at the top of the site. Additionally, we’ve moved the downloadable datasets to their own pages, rather than be located on the dashboard pages themselves. The page to download aggregated data for all participating sites is now analytics.

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Analytics.usa.gov: Now with Agency-Specific Dashboards

We’ve added agency-specific dashboards to analytics.usa.gov! Starting today, you’ll see a dropdown from the main analytics.usa.gov page that allows you to view the same dashboard, but filtered for websites that are administered by one of 10 specific agencies: Department of Commerce Department of Education Department of Energy Department of the Interior Department of Justice Department of Veterans Affairs Environmental Protection Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Archives and Records Administration Small Business Administration What Do These Pages Show Me?

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Analytics.usa.gov: New Features and More Data

As of writing this post, 25,225 of the 124,878 total visitors on federal government websites participating in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) are NOT located in the United States. And as a result of a new location feature on the expanded analytics.usa.gov, you are free to check for yourself how many current users are from outside the country, anytime you’d like. Back in March of this year, DAP released analytics.

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An Introduction to HTTPS, by 18F and DigitalGov University

18F uses HTTPS for everything we make, and the U.S. government is in the process of transitioning to HTTPS everywhere. As part of this effort, we’ve recently partnered with DigitalGov University to produce a two-video series introducing the why’s and how’s of HTTPS. In an Introduction to HTTPS for beginners, we cover what happens when you use the web, how HTTPS helps protect users, and examines why the web (including the U.

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Taking the Pulse of the Federal Government’s Web Presence

The U.S. federal government is launching a new project to monitor how it’s doing at best practices on the Web. A sort of health monitor for the U.S. government’s websites, it’s called Pulse and you can find it at pulse.cio.gov. Pulse is a lightweight dashboard that uses the official .gov domain list to measure two things: Analytics: Whether federal executive branch domains are participating in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) that powers analytics.

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Take a Gander at Our /Developer Page!

A growing trend both inside government and outside is to have a simple welcoming page for outside developers who may be interested in your team’s efforts. This material is often located at website.gov/developer 1 and points visitors to technical material that developers may be interested in, especially APIs. Collecting technical documentation in one place facilitates the developer experience, ensuring that they can find and begin using APIs with as little friction as possible.

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Packaging Up API Usability Testing for Agency Reuse

Over the past year, a GSA collaboration has seen a project that offers API Usability Testing to federal agencies go from the pilot stage to a regular, robust series. Already, 13 agencies and programs have participated, and several more participate with every monthly session that passes. The best examples from across the government have made clear that one of the most important tasks of API producers is to regularly engage their developer community and listen to what they have to say.

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API Security

Like website development, API security revolves around three stages—planning the API, testing the API, and monitoring the API after it has launched. The planning stage requires those involved to conceptually map several design decisions and the impact that they will have on security. The second stage applies your agency’s security program to the API release candidate. Lastly, the third step integrates your API in your agency’s continuous monitoring frameworks.

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Develop with Web Standards

What It Is Do you remember the days when web pages had banners announcing that they were “best viewed with browser X”? Veteran web developers and designers certainly do, because they had to consider numerous exceptions for certain browsers and their versions. Today, building websites isn’t as challenging and that’s because developers are moving toward standards. Why It’s Important Developing with standard-compliant code—that is, using code as it is intended—will help you build your website so that it can be viewed and accessed on more web browsers, platforms, and devices than developing with browser-specific code.

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/Developer Kit

These are the elements that make up a well-rounded developer hub. Homepage The API efforts of any agency should all be accessible via one easy to reach developers hub. This Web page should provide a path to all public APIs and any associated resources. Once an agency has begun to publish multiple APIs, certain resources may make sense to be specific to each API whereas others may make sense to be provided more generally for all of the agency’s APIs.

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API Release Kit

These are the elements you should include in your federal API release. Homepage Each of your public APIs needs a page to serve as a hub to provide access to all information and tools associated with it. By using the page’s sidebar, footer, and sub pages, you can directly include or link to each of the following components that exist for the API. This allows for ready discovery of anything a potential developer may need, minimizing the effort that is asked of them and maximizing the adoption.

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We the People API

“APIs for WhiteHouse.gov? What in the heck does that mean?” Like President Obama, you may be asking the same question. DigitalGov University set out to answer that question during its API Standards from the White House webinar with Leigh Heyman and Bryan Hirsch, from the White House Office of Digital Strategy. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bJo6zii7lw&w=600] After launching the We The People petition site, citizens using the tool were asking how they could improve their own engagement levels on the petitions and wanted to look at the data.

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APIs in Government

What Are APIs? An Application Programming Interface, or API, is a set of software instructions and standards that allows machine to machine communication—like when a website uses a widget to share a link on Twitter or Facebook. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVeiRCEwJx8] [Extended Version] When we talk about APIs we are referring to Web services or Web APIs. This aligns with the current trends to use Web APIs to support sharing content and data between communities and applications.

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Producing APIs through Data.gov

One way agencies can offer APIs for their data is to use the built–in functionality of Data.gov. The information that is hosted as interactive datasets have an API layer which agencies can make available through documentation in the developer’s section of the agency’s website. The guide below will help you do this. Process Upload a dataset as an interactive dataset in Data.gov. A. Your agency should have a Data.

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Usability Testing + Gov APIs = Best

Good APIs can transform intimidating data sets into something that people can use. Good government APIs can create a better connection between government and citizens. The Digital Government Strategy has spurred Federal adoption of APIs, and the Digital Services Innovation Center and DATA.GOV teams are supporting these efforts by releasing a swath of guidance and resources, hosting online education series and launching a number of hosted tools at Labs.Data.gov.

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API Analytics

Similar to website analytics, API analytics focus on reliably reporting the metrics which are most useful to its stakeholders. There are a many ways of collecting, reporting, and consuming API analytics but all revolve around the industry–accepted norm that some form of analytics are crucial to any API program. The most basic metrics will track the number of API registrations and the number of API requests, but as important as understanding how much an API is used is understanding how it is used.

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API Design and Documentation

Design At their core, developers want APIs for very straightforward, pragmatic ends. You should always design your APIs and document them with the goal of making it easier for developers to use them. Doing so results in greater adoption and a healthier, more successful API. The least efficient way to support developers would be to work with each interested developer individually on any question or problem that they have.

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How to Make APIs—An Overview

After choosing a set of information or services to offer via API, some of your next steps are to plan and implement the API. You’ll still need to prepare documentation, tools, and other elements that make a complete package for the API, but at the center is the actual Web service itself. In many situations, existing IT resources or the current system operators handle this step. There are several options at this stage, each with advantages and disadvantages.

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Resources and Tools for APIs

Hosted API Tools Labs.Data.gov is a repository of shared services to prototype and provide developer resources to government agencies. Each tool uses Web services and lightweight, open source code to provide powerful functionality. Agencies are encouraged to improve any project and submit pull requests in order to share the improvements with others. API Standards Template With the open source release of the White House’s API Standards template, agencies have a complete model for API design and best practices that includes the best practices and agreed–upon norms of the developer community.

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How to Get Started with APIs

Audit Research existing APIs Regardless of your agency’s level of progress in API production, your first step is to create a developer hub that links to any of your agency’s existing APIs. This can help identify current efforts and connect you with others in your agency already working on APIs. Follow up with a deeper scan for APIs that your agency may already be publishing:

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API Basics

Common Technical Choices Protocol API protocol is the set of rules that govern how an API functions. The protocol outlines the structure and definitions of the API. The two common forms are REST and SOAP. REST is the dominant choice for API protocol because it uses the http protocol that powers the Web. REST supports more data formats, requires much simpler documentation, has better performance, can be cached, and is faster to use.

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Benefits of APIs

Understanding the benefits of API production allows you to coordinate with system owners and other stakeholders to modernize the agency’s systems and unlock the sizable potential. Here are just some of these opportunities. Efficiency Providing API access allows for content to be created once and automatically published or made available to many channels. Your agency’s content is ready for easy sharing and redistribution to deliver your mission directly to more citizens.

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Case Study: How DOL Created Software Development Kits (SDKs)

What It Is The U.S. Department of Labor sought to go beyond merely making data available to developers and take ease of use of the data to the next level by giving developers tools that would make using DOL’s data easier. The target audience was not just experienced developers, but even those who may be just starting out with a how-to book and a great idea. The developer should not necessarily know what JSON or XML are.

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Case Study: How GSA Launched Social Media Registry

In September, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched a registry of all federally-managed social media accounts. We want to explain a little of the history behind the registry and talk about a few things that make it a truly remarkable innovation from GSA. Before I start, I want to emphasize when I say “we” from here on, I’m referring to the entire team at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) that made this happen.

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Introduction to APIs

There’s an easier way to get content and data into the hands of citizens. Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are web services that allow people to more easily consume content and data in multiple ways–via mobile devices, mobile apps, innovative mash-ups, and much more. Simply put, “APIs are a better way to get government information and services into the hands of the people who need them.” To help agencies better understand APIs, DigitalGov University hosted a webinar, An Introduction to APIs, with experts from NASA and CDC.

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