Application Programming Interfaces: Working with Data and APIs

Data is presented in different formats. This guide contains information, tips and suggestions on how to use some of the formats presented in the Open Data Portal as well as how to work with some of the application programming interfaces (APIs).

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What is an API?

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a broad term. In the context of Government of Canada’s Data Portal, it refers to internet connected software interfaces that provide access to open data. In most cases, these interfaces will use the HTTP protocol. APIs provide on-demand access to large, timely or complex data allowing developers to mash data from multiple sources and create new views on information through applications or visualizations.

Open Government APIs

The Government of Canada is working on releasing APIs that will:

  • create economic opportunity, or public or private innovation;
  • relate to data commonly requested by Canadians (via email, suggested data sets, round table discussions, consultations, and ATI requests);
  • improve accountability and responsiveness;
  • increase public knowledge of the Government of Canada and its operations;
  • further the core mission of departments and agencies; and
  • provide insight related to student and youth issues (e.g. Canada student loan data).
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