Special circumstances

Use specialised technologies only in special circumstances

There are some cases where a specialised technology is the right choice because it solves a specific problem that would otherwise be very complex and/or there is no other reasonable technical option.


When a case can be made that specialised technology is the best fit for solving a speficic technical problem, an agency may chose to use that technology over adopting a more ubiquitous standard.


When an agency chooses to apply a specialised technology, they should only use that technology for the specific problem it’s designed to solve.

For example, ebMS3 / AS4 is an advanced messaging technology that is built upon XML/SOAP. It is designed for the specific problem of peer-to-peer messaging. Unlike the ‘client-server’ model where an agency provides an API service and many clients can consume the service, the peer-to-peer model has no sense of a service provider or consumer. Instead it is characterised as a community of members that need to exchange electronic documents with each other (such as, B2B e-invoicing).XBRL is a niche technology that is specifically designed for corporate regulatory financial reporting. It is a ‘fact distribution’ model where the provider of data can report any fact so long as it exists in a reference taxonomy (that is, a dictionary of terms). This offers a lot of flexibility for the provider of financial reports that essentially need to provide a machine-readable version of their corporate annual report. But it’s a poor fit for most service APIs that normally need to specify what data must be provided by the consumer.

Although these niche technologies can be used outside their design scope, this does not mean that they should. The vast majority of government service APIs are a simple client-server model and overloading them with niche or complex technologies will cause unnecessary barriers to uptake.


Agencies should be prepared to provide a rationale for diverging from the standards specified in this guide.