API development

When developing APIs, please follow these guidelines.

Contract first

The Nuts node APIs are specified in Open API Specification (OAS). The files are located under /docs/_static/<engine>/<version>.yaml. Where <engine> is a specific module like crypto or auth and <version> defines the version of the API. We use version 3.0.y of the OAS.


We use versioning of the APIs. This is reflected in both the OAS files and the HTTP paths. Versions must follow the pattern v and start at v1. These are major versions, any breaking change results in a new major version of the API. New additions, bug fixes and changes that are backwards compatible may be done in the current version.

Code generation

The OAS files are used for code generation. The makefile contains the gen-api target which will generate the code. The build target only needs to be extended when a new version or new engine is added. Generated code is always placed in /<engine>/api/<version>/generated.go.

Return codes

The error return values are generalized for all API calls. The return values follow RFC7807. The definition is available under /docs/_static/common/error_response.yaml. The error definition can be used in a OAS file:

          $ref: '../common/error_response.yaml'

The error responses will not be listed as responses in the online generated documentation. To describe error responses, the specific responses need to be added to the API description:

      description: |
        Some description on the API

        error returns:
        * 400 - incorrect input


The API paths are designed so different security schemes can be setup easily.

API paths follow the following pattern:


All paths start with a security <context>:

  • /internal/** These APIs are meant to be behind a firewall and should only be available to the internal infrastructure. All DID Document manipulation APIs fall under this category.

  • /n2n/** These APIs must be available to other nodes from the network. This means they must be protected with the required client certificate as specified by RFC011. The creation of an access token is one example of such an API.

  • /public/** These APIs must be publicly available on a valid domain. No security must be configured other than a server certificate. These APIs are used by mobile devices.

After the context, the <engine> is expected. An engine defines a logical unit of functionality. Each engine has its own OAS file. Then as discussed earlier, the <version> is expected. The last part is the <action>, this part can be freely chosen in a RESTful manor.