Documentation site

Web services

A web service component is offered as a URL endpoint that delivers content or data services. Web service components are available as raw source in git, but are not intended to be cloned or run by product developers unless they want to for testing. The component is the hosted service, rather than the application that runs it. Examples of good use cases for web services are:

Naming conventions

Origami web services follow strict naming conventions. We name all of our services in the pattern Origami <name> Service, e.g. Origami Build Service, Origami Image Service.

A slugified name will be used elsewhere. This is a lower case, hyphenated version of the name, e.g. origami-build-service, origami-image-service.

The slugified name must be used as the system code for the application.

Note: there may be exceptions to this naming structure in circumstances where “Service” doesn’t effectively describe what the application does, e.g. with Origami Bower Registry. If you think that a different name might be required then discuss with the team.


The associated Git repository must be named with the slugified version of the web service name.

Heroku applications

Heroku applications for a web service must be named with the slugified version of the web service name.

This must be suffixed with an environment identifier for non-production applications, and a region identifier for production applications. E.g. origami-build-service-qa, origami-build-service-eu.


Origami web services should exist on a path under ft.com if users would benefit from HTTP2 in this case. If this is not possible for some reason then a subdomain must be used.

When using a path, it should be /__origami/service/<short-name>. The short name in this case is the slugified service name with origami- and -service removed, E.g. /__origami/service/build.

When using a subdomain, it should be <short-name>.ft.com. The short name in this case is the slugified service name with -service removed, E.g. origami-build.ft.com.


Service name Repository Heroku app URL
Origami Tweet Service origami-tweet-service origami-tweet-service-eu www.ft.com/__origami/service/tweet or origami-tweet.ft.com
Origami Most Popular Service origami-most-popular-service origami-most-popular-service-eu www.ft.com/__origami/service/most-popular or origami-most-popular.ft.com


Many of the requirements below can be met by using Node.js and the Origami Service module. We recommend this as a starting point.

Web services must

  • Follow the engineering checklist

  • Provide the FT standard meta endpoints:

  • Include a mandatory version number element to the API path for all API endpoints. This must not expose minor version changes and must be prefixed with a v. E.g.

    • www.ft.com/__origami/service/tweet/v1/<endpoint>
    • www.ft.com/__origami/service/most-popular/v2/<endpoint>
    • www.ft.com/__origami/service/jobs/v3/<endpoint>

    The only exception to this rule is when the service is replicating a third-party API. E.g. a Bower registry

  • Meet the standard for HTML where relevant

  • Require requests to API endpoints to contain an identification string set by the requesting application, in a source query string parameter. If the query parameter is missing, must return a 400 Bad Request response status code. Requests to non-API endpoints such as the root path or /__about should not require the source parameter.

    The only exception to this rule is when the service is replicating a third-party API. E.g. a Bower registry

    If you are using Node.js to build the service, then we provide Express middleware to check source parameters.

  • When an error occurs that prevents the service from returning the output requested, the HTTP response code must be in the 5xx or 4xx range

  • Include an explicit Cache-Control header in all HTTP responses that have a 2xx or 3xx status

  • Serve content on the bare versioned endpoints (e.g. /v1/) that documents the service or links to documentation under a docs path (e.g. /v1/docs/). Documentation content thus served should use the o-techdocs module for formatting and layout

  • Redirect the root path / to the documentation endpoint for the latest API version

  • When a non-backwards compatible change is made to any output of the service, you must:

    • provide a new set of API endpoints with updated version number
    • continue to support previous versions for a minimum of 6 months
    • communicate the deprecation of the previous version to the service consumers and the wider business
  • When a prior version is to be terminated, you must:

    • give at least 6 months notice via an email notification to the service consumers and the wider business
    • review the top referring applications identified by the source parameter and proactively notify their owners
    • following the expiry of the termination date, and for ever more, the service should return either a 410 Gone, a static copy of the last content to be generated, or redirect to the new version if the API is compatible

Web services should

  • Be used for components that produce dynamic editorial content or data that is not practical to store statically in a module component (usually because it changes too frequently or there are too many possible permutations)

  • Serve permissive CORS response headers to allow the endpoints to be consumed in-browser from any origin (though consuming in-browser is discouraged). If CORS is supported, the service must support all potential pre-flight requests that would be required in the case of requests for HTTP methods other than GET

  • Use the querystring parameter callback if JSONP is supported. JSONP support is, however, not required

  • Be RESTful, ie. should use the most appropriate HTTP verb and URLs that semantically describe the resource to be acted upon

  • Emit metrics to the FT graphite service. See Metrics.

  • Use the Origami Service module if the service is built with Node.js

Changes and versioning

A “backwards compatible change” is defined as one that, in the case of JSON output, adds a new property to an object, or adds or removes elements from an array. Any changes that remove existing properties of objects, or change the type of a value, are breaking. In the case of HTML output, any change that requires accompanying changes in a module component (CSS, JavaScript or other resources that act on the HTML) is breaking.

In the case of breaking changes, a service must maintain the existing functionality and release a new version.

When a new version of a web service is released, the service developer may choose to implement this by running multiple versions of the service behind a routing layer, such that /v1/someendpoint and /v2/someendpoint ultimately result in the same /someendpoint request being made to one or other of two separate instances of the web service. This is acknowledged as a valid approach, but other web service developers may simply wish to run one instance of the web service that can handle all versioned endpoints. This spec does not care about the internal architecture choices that the web service developer makes provided that the external interface satisfies the requirements set out above.

De-duplication of output

Web service components should not offer any de-duplication of content. If a product developer wants to draw from multiple Origami sources, and de-dupe where the same individual content item may appear from more than one of those sources, that’s not a problem that Origami will solve for them, but could be solved at the product level by consuming data rather than markup.


Web service components should emit metrics over TCP using the Carbon plaintext protocol, to the FT Graphite service. All metrics must conform to the metrics naming conventions.

Web services should send metrics no more frequently than every 5 seconds, and should consult the monitoring team before sending more than 100,000 data points per hour.

Metrics are provided by default with the Origami Service module.


The following HTTP request-response is compliant with the above requirements and the syntax requirements for the response body:

GET /v1/navigation.html?level=first&selectedUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcompanies HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: curl/7.24.0 (x86_64-apple-darwin12.0) libcurl/7.24.0 OpenSSL/0.9.8x zlib/1.2.5
Host: nav.modules.ft.com
Accept: text/html
X-FT-Source: Example application

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache
Sat, 03 Aug 2013 16:45:35 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Cache-Control: public, max-age=60
Last-Modified: Fri, 02 Aug 2013 16:58:42 GMT
Content-Length: 2104
Access-Control-Allow-Credentials: true
Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *

<nav class="o-nav" data-o-component="o-nav">
<li data-o-track-pos="0"><a href="http://www.ft.com">Home</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="1"><a href="http://www.ft.com/world/uk">UK</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="2"><a href="http://www.ft.com/world">World</a></li>
<li class="selected" data-o-track-pos="3"><a href="http://www.ft.com/companies">Companies</a>
  <ol class="second-level">
    <li class="has-third-level">
      <a href="http://www.ft.com/companies/energy">Energy</a>
      <ol class="third-level">
        <li class="title"><a href="http://www.ft.com/companies/energy">Energy<span class="arrow">&#8250;</span></a></li>
        <li><a href="http://www.ft.com/companies/oilandgas">Oil & Gas</a></li>
        <li><a href="http://www.ft.com/companies/mining">Mining</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://www.ft.com/financials">Financials</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://www.ft.com/companies/health">Health</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://www.ft.com/intl/companies/industrials">Industrials</a></li>
    <li><a href="www.ft.com/intl/companies/luxury-360">Luxury 360</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Media</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Retail & Consumer</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Tech</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Telecoms</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Transport</a></li>
    <li><a href="">By Region</a></li>
    <li class="rss"><a href="http://www.ft.com/rss/companies"><img src="http://navigation-module.herokuapp.com/navigation/ft/img/rss-icon.gif" width="14" height="14" alt="RSS"></a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="4"><a href="http://www.ft.com/markets">Markets</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="5"><a href="http://www.ft.com/global-economy">Global Economy</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="6"><a href="http://www.ft.com/lex">Lex</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="7"><a href="http://www.ft.com/comment">Comment</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="8"><a href="http://www.ft.com/management">Management</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="9"><a href="http://www.ft.com/personal-finance">Personal Finance</a></li>
<li data-o-track-pos="10"><a href="http://www.ft.com/life-arts">Life & Arts</a></li>