A year has passed since we published the HMRC API strategy and it really has flown by!
In that time we’ve delivered a fully-functioning API platform allowing HMRC to manage access to its public APIs. We’ve also released the API developer hub to third party software developers and have continually revised its features and functionality. All this has been delivered with a small team and an agile approach that puts customer needs at the heart of everything we build. In total, we’ve undertaken 25 days of usability testing (around once every two weeks) with around 100 different users (covering developers, taxpayers and agents).
More recently, we’ve enhanced the API platform to support wider access across government. This way HMRC can deliver APIs that can be consumed by government departments as well as by our more conventional software developer base. By doing this, we can significantly cut cost and complexity out of cross-governmental interaction, as well as avoiding the need for bespoke solutions between different API consumers.
There are a number of key capabilities we'll be looking to deliver over the next few months. The first of these will be the API platform's migration to a hosting model on multiple clouds with multiple suppliers (see Tim Britten's blog post for further background), which will enhance API platform's availability and geo-resilience.
Another change we've just kicked off on the API platform is the adoption of 'specification-first' API development using RAML as the specification format. As a first step, this will mean that API Documentation is automatically generated for us by standardised tooling. Other features that we're looking to exploit further down the line using RAML include:
- simulations which can be generated automatically and then used for local contract testing for API consumers (i.e. third party software developers) with very little effort or pre-work
- domain-state diagrams to visually augment the API specifications so that business requirements from HMRC API producers can be easily understood and validated
- API implementations and clients reference which can be used by API Consumers as a learning resource for HMRC APIs and to build a better understanding of the logic underpinning their design
Lots more to look forward to, as you can see!
The last announcement for today is that I've come to the end of my time at HMRC. I've worked here for six years having gone through the fantastic Fast Stream Graduate Scheme, and then spent the last 3.5 years working in Digital delivery specialising on third party software and APIs. It has been an amazing experience where I've been surrounded by exceptionally talented colleagues and wonderfully diverse stakeholders, and I know I'll miss a great deal about working in HMRC.
The good work will carry on long after I'm gone through the API programme delivery teams in London and Yorkshire. My role will be split between a number of people so look out for future blog posts providing the detail of those changes and, if you have anything you wish to raise in the meantime, do get in touch with Lee Hawksworth.
All that's left is for me to say thank you to everyone I've worked with over the years, whether that's colleagues in HMRC or the many, many software developers who have kept me on my toes this whole time!
Good luck all!