API documentation essentials

API Documentation

You can instigate your developers to deliver good APIs via API documentation. You need a downloadable, solid, easy-to-multiply API documentation. It should meet at least the minimum API documentation criteria. You are allowed to even borrow some forms, in order to get an inspiration for your own strategy. The result should be an API with a consistent documentation.

Quality documentation speaks a lot about itself and about the API too. In order to sell a product, you have to be familiar with the audience. Documentation is a path to wide adoption, so make sure your users are informed about the updates and that you give them support.

Documentation might direct you to eventual problems, tell you about the products’ capabilities, or foundational process. Luckily, writing documentation is less manual than it used to be since some of the frameworks emerged with time.

What are the essentials for any API?

  1. Single landing page

Provide your API with a single landing page, as this will contain everything relevant information about working with your API. You can link the landing page with the other APIs with a façade page. A repo or sub-domain can be a host for the landing page, too. As the third option, it can be published with other APIs.

  1. Open API

Open API that stands behind the documentation has to be at the center and the front. It should also be easy to download in other services and tools.

  1. Open API driven documentation

Use Swagger UI in order to provide interactive, Open API driven documentation. Developers need documentation that is up to date and usable, so they can understand the API actions.

  1. Postman Collection

Postman Collection is an alternative to the Open API. It covers the documentation base for any API. You have to enable two machine-readable API definitions, which will allow the portability and usability of the API documentation in other services. Developers use the API definitions as a part of another stop along the API production.

Bringing in some more API documentation elements

Besides the single landing page, Open API documentation, and Postman Collection, there are some additional ways to build an API with a proper documentation, which is providing backup for an API. Some of these are supported (an API should have at least one, but multiple channels are recommended), authentication, response formats, roadmaps (provides an insight into plans for an API), and references.

Among these additional elements, support and roadmap stand out of the rest. They simply can’t be ignored, as these provide a standard of the minimum API documentation.

What might frustrate you about the APIs?

  • No support,
  • Uncertainty about the future of the API,
  • Up to date documentation,
  • Lack of Open API or Postman Collection for an API.

 

Conclusion

You can polish the API documentation even more. Providing functional API documentation guidance is very important for the start. Developers further can polish it, turn it into something they need, or to a viable solution. APIs are evolving, so the documentation does. You should have a proper way to scale the delivery of the APIs. This documentation can also build a way for APIs deployment, testing, security, and every step of the way of the API cycle. The sooner you realize how important your documentation is, the sooner you will create good APIs (such as stoplight.io does).

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