If you have a great project but you do not provide elaborate API documentation on how to use it, then it’s all useless! I came across these two statements and they really stood out to me: “Users don’t want documentation, they want answers” “Documentation isn’t read, it is referenced” Your thoughts are always appreciated. API documentation is written text (or reference manual) that accompanies an API. Not ready to write code? Instead of trying to parse code comments and have inline descriptions written (usually) by developers, the documentation team is still able to provide descriptive documentation in the API spec, and all code parameters/examples are already included, making the transition to documentation a snap. And in the case of a failure, you will want to provide descriptive error messages that tell the client not just what went wrong, but how to fix it. Exceptional API technical writers have proven experience with project management tools. We hope that the above best practices will make your journey to writing great documentation easier and fulfilling. Technical writers with programming experience who want … 65 Views . And for more detail on creating great API documentation, check out Undisturbed REST: A Guide to Designing the Perfect API. Creating excellent API reference documentation requires hard work and commitment. For documenting the qooxdoo API special comments in the source code (so-called “doc comments”) are used. Find, test and connect to all the APIs you need in one place! If your users are calling your methods with incorrect values, they may be in discovery mode, intentionally testing the boundaries and trying to figure out what is … Required fields are marked *. Improperly written REST API documentation template implies that more frustrated users will depend on your team to assist them in integrating your API, which increases your operational costs. While documentation may seem like a quick and easy task, most companies will tell you it is one of their biggest challenges and burdens when it comes to maintaining their API. And while that skill set is highly valued in development, it doesn't always transfer over to writing great documentation. API documentation is important for creating good developer experience. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window). Javadoc Tool. The RAML community has already put together parsers for several different languages including Java, Ruby, PHP and Node, as well as full scripts to manage API documentation while providing interactive environments such as the API Console and API Notebook. Assuming that your audience is completely technical and understands how APIs work is a big mistake. Remember that humans are the primary readers of your API reference documentation and not machines. In other words, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can only be as good as their documentation. While there is no shortage of free API documentation tools, all are not created equal. APIs can greatly assist in the digital transformation efforts of most businesses. As far an Application Programming Interface or APIis concerned, people seem to think that code is the only element that rules. Writing API documentation is one of the most sought-after skill sets in the technology industry. We really do love writing documentation for clients. Your write-up should be entirely uniform and without contradictions in language and code. API documentation workshop opportunity at the STC Summit | Apr 7, 2016 REST API documentation workshop recording (STC Sacramento) | Mar 27, 2016 10 minute podcast on API technical writing with Ryan Weber on Stitcher | Mar 12, 2016 What is the ideal tool for developer documentation … With the best API documentation tool, you can add the materials easily. You’ll first learn about API documentation by using a simple weather API to put a weather forecast on your site. Javadoc is a tool for generating API documentation in HTML format from doc comments in source code. Trust nothing and fail fast. Your email address will not be published. All rights reserved. And like our documents, it is open to feedback and improvement. 7 Best Practices when Writing API Documentation. In this post, we present different rules that help writing good API documentation. APIs are intended to be consumed. Definitely, if you fail to plan ahead for your documentation exercise, then you may not be successful with it. Why doesn’t it happen? No prior programming or structured data experience is required. Your write-up should be entirely uniform and without contradictions in language and code. Good documentation should act as both a reference and an educator, letting developers quickly obtain the information they are looking for at a glance, while also reading through the documentation to glean an understanding of how to integrate the resource/method they are looking at.As such, good documentation should be clear and concise, but also visual, providing the following: One of the key benefits to Spec-Driven Development is that instead of having to rely on costly and complex vendors—or trying to build an ad-hoc API documentation solution out of a CMS like WordPress or Drupal—specs like RAML, Swagger and API Blueprint have strong open source communities surrounding them that offer pre-built documentation tools you can use. It is also important to be consistent with universally-accepted naming conventions and terminologies. Include interactive examples and other resources. A clear API documentation makes it easy for businesses to adopt your API. This can be in the form of technical writing, code samples and examples for better understanding how to consume an API. ), SDK examples (if SDKs are provided) showing how to access the resource/method utilizing the SDK for their language, Interactive experiences to try/test API calls (, Frequently asked questions/scenarios with code examples, Links to additional resources (other examples, blogs, etc. Who visits your sample API documentation web page? While having a well formatted, coherent body response in your API documentation is extremely important (you want something that can easily be deserialized, iterated and understood), you’ll also want to provide developers with quick references as to what happened with the call, including the use of status codes. © 2020 Rakuten RapidAPI. Each offers its own unique toolset, but in this piece, we’ll focus on the tools available from the RAML community. If you can include interactive sample codes in the most popular programming languages, it can greatly reduce the friction in implementing your API. ), A comments section where users can share/discuss code, Other support resources (forums, contact forms, etc. Therefore, it’s pivotal to ensure that users can quickly get started in implementing them without many hurdles. However, with the expansion of open specs such as RAML—and the communities surrounding them—documentation has become much easier. Take a walkthrough that covers writing your first app, data storage, networking, and swarms, and ends with your app running on production servers in the cloud. Writing API Documentation with Slate. If your API descriptions are obsolete, users can get frustrated and lose trust in your services. APIs allow developers to transmit data between software products easily. You can try out everything without writing a single line of code by heading over to our Live Demo. Unfortunately, most APIs are poorly documented, which complicates their integration and defeats the very purpose of their existence. ). To compete in the digital age, Rakuten RapidAPI helps enterprises deploy scalable and flexible IT systems to allow for ongoing experimentation and iteration at speed. Getting Started with Docker. Sticking to such well-established conventions will save you the hassle of writing many explanations, making your documentation easier to understand. 4 Min Read. Before starting to document an API, there are some things you should prepare and plan in advance of starting to actually write. You can tailor them based on the needs you want to address with your documentation. MuleSoft provides a widely used integration platform for connecting applications, data, and devices in the cloud and on-premises. You can write an API reference by hand or auto generate a reference from comments in the code of the API itself.There are many tools that let you auto generate an HTML file from developer code comments to display to your users. The API documentation is a precise reference that contains information about how to integrate with an API. In case you get any feedback, act on it appropriately to improve the quality of your. First, documentation is seldom prioritized. I think this book is best suited for the writer who is considering writing API documentation and wants an overview of the skills needed. As companies recognize the rising value of APIs they are starting to develop hundreds of APIs. API documentation is key to enhancing the developer experience. The challenge is that not only should your documentation be consistent in its appearance, but also consistent with the functionality of your API and in sync with the latest changes. There are numerous points to consider, and we believe that, in our tests, ReDoc gave us a good balance of flexibility, efficiency, and features: User Interface: ReDoc’s UI looks professional. Documentation is one of the most important factors in determining an API’s success, as strong, easy-to-understand documentation makes API implementation a breeze, while confusing, out-of-sync, incomplete or convoluted documentation makes for an unwelcome adventure—one that usually leads to frustrated developers utilizing a competitor’s solutions. You should sufficiently proofread your documentation to eliminate sections that are ambiguous or difficult to understand. So, the best way to document REST APIs is to understand users’ needs. Whereas you have the freedom to decide on what goes into your code, trying to be excessively creative on the use of status codes, HTTP verbs, and other conventional item names may lead to unnecessary confusion. I have no experience writing API documentation, but a need has arisen for it at my company. The API writing process is typically split between analyzing and understanding the source code, planning, writing, and reviewing. With a lot of web services emerging, the need to have clear API documentation for adopting these services became clear. It needs examples, summaries and fleshed out explanations. The API documentation may appear at the package, class, method and field level (since it is a good idea to put the API documentation in source code directly). How PSD2 will revolutionize the banking industry, The challenges of building an omnichannel architecture, A clear explanation of what the method/resource does, Call-outs that share important information with developers, including warnings and errors, A sample call with the correlating media type body, A list of parameters used on this resource/method, as well as their types, special formatting, rules and whether or not they are required, A sample response, including media type body, Code examples for multiple languages including all necessary code, (e.g. With good API documentation, developers can understand the usage of an API and incorporate it into their use cases without experiencing programming obstacles. The most important page of your documentation is the Getting Started guide. Especially for product and service providers with millions of customers. Similarly, your API should verify everything that users send, and immediately fail on errors. Since APIs are designed to be consumed, it is important to make sure that the client, or consumer, is able to quickly implement an API and understand what is happening with it. Learn API Technical Writing This is the first in a series of courses for technical writers who want to learn how to write API documentation. This guide will provide tips and examples of writing effective API documentation. Project management prowess. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. You'll even be shown example code to produce any image you want. However, the only guides I can find for API Documentation are for APIs that use JSON, XML, Java, etc. API documentation has to be more than bare necessities like methods and endpoints. Write your document with user experience in mind Another best practice to keep in mind when writing API documentation is to do so with the user’s convenience in mind. 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