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Base Setup - vets-api


This details the base setup needed to run Vets API locally. This project provides common APIs for applications that live on (formerly APIs).

For frontend, see the vets-website, content-build, and vagov-content repos.

Base setup

  1. Clone the vets-api repo:

    git clone
  2. Setup key & cert for localhost authentication to

    • Create a folder in your vets-api directory:

      mkdir config/certs
      touch config/certs/vetsgov-localhost.crt
      touch config/certs/vetsgov-localhost.key
    • Copy example configuration file:

      cp config/settings.local.yml.example config/settings.local.yml
    • Edit config/settings.local.yml to disable signed authentication requests:

      # settings.local.yml
        authn_requests_signed: false
  3. If you are developing features that need Sidekiq Enterprise, you must have access to the repo and install the sidekiq enterprise license

    Sidekiq Enterprise is used for worker rate limiting and additional reliability in production and requires a license be configured on your development machine. If you do not have a license configured, the open source version of Sidekiq will be installed instead. This is not an issue unless you are specifically developing features that need Sidekiq Enterprise.

    DO NOT commit local Gemfile modifications that remove the sidekiq-ent and sidekiq-pro gems.

  4. Developers who work with vets-api daily tend to prefer the native setup because they don't have to deal with the abstraction of docker-compose while those who would to spend less time on getting started prefer the docker setup. Docker is also useful when it's necessary to have a setup as close to production as possible. Finally, it's possible to use a hybrid setup where you run vets-api natively, but run the Postgres and Redis dependencies in docker.

Running the app


Vets API is configured with Config. The default configuration is contained in settings.yml. To customize your setup, you can create a config/settings.local.yml file with configuration specific to your needs. For example, to configure Redis and PostgreSQL (PostGIS is required), place something like this in that file:

database_url: postgis://pg_host:9999/custom_db

  host: redis_host
  port: 9999

This is also where you will place any other customizations, such as API tokens or certificate paths.

Config settings that vary in value depending on the deployment environment will also need to be set appropriately for each environment in the relevant devops (Private Repo) configurations (dev-, staging-, and prod-settings.local.yml.j2).

Some examples of configuration that will need to be added to these files are:

  • API keys/tokens

  • 3rd party service hostnames, ports, and certificates/keys.

  • Betamocks settings

Optional application configuration

The following features require additional configuration, click for details.

To mock one or more of the above services see Betamocks

Vets API will still run in a limited capacity without configuring any of these features, and will run the unit tests successfully.

Deployment instructions


Jenkins deploys vets-api upon each merge to master: (Requires SOCKS)

Each deploy is available here: (publicly available)

Additional deployment details can be found here:

additional deployment details


ArgoCD deploys vets-api upon each merge to master

See deploy process details here

API request key formatting

When sending HTTP requests use the X-Key-Inflection request header to specify which case your client wants to use. Valid cases are cameldash, and snake. For example if you set X-Key-Inflection: camel then you can use camelCase keys in your JSON request body and you will get back data with camelCase keys in the response body. If the header is not provided then the server will expect snake_case keys in the request body and output snake_case in the response.


The version of Ruby and gem dependencies (including Rails) used are defined in the included Gemfile. The currently used versions of gems are maintained with Bundler and stored in the Gemfile.lock.

Version Policy

The goal is to have vets-api use supported versions of gems and Ruby, which is often the latest. However the versions are generally updated as need or availability arise. If you need a newer version of a gem, please submit a pull-request marked as draft with just the gem updated and passing tests.

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