On December 8, 2009, the “Open Government Directive” was issued by the White House that requires government agencies to takes steps in establishing openness and transparency. The directive includes the publication of information and data sets. This leads to a question of how government agencies should provide the data:
Should open data be provided using web APIs or bulk data files?
Sunlight Labs and Peter Krantz recently published articles on this subject. Both articles discuss the considerations that need to be made when choosing to provide data using web APIs or through bulk data dump files. In most cases, using bulk data dump files is the less costly, most effective solution.
Here are a few key differences between using web APIs vs. bulk data files:
When it comes to government open data, bulk data files are the appropriate choice in most cases. However, Web APIs can provide advanced query capabilities and functions. They are also a good choice if the source data changes very frequently, preventing external applications from generating outdated content.