Traditionally, creating useful API documentation involved a lot of manual labor. The old publishing problems are for the most part behind us -- online documentation has been the standard for a while, now -- and automated API extraction from your code base has been possible for more than a decade. But, in my experience anyway, the tools available until very recently only provided a bare scaffold of your programming interface.
We have to be experts at finding ways to do more with less. And while that skill set is highly valued in development, it doesn't always transfer over to writing great documentation.
API documentation has to be more than bare necessities like methods and endpoints. It needs examples, summaries and fleshed out explanations.
Unlike coding, you're writing for an audience of humans, not computers. Humans come from all backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives that all need to be addressed. But even if you're committed to writing great API documentation, it's hard to know where to start.
There's no API documentation guru whose mentorship you can seek, nor a standard how-to guide for documenting your API. So we figured it's about time to make public some of the best practices we've developed over the years for writing and updating lucid, navigable, and error-free API docs.
How to start writing API docs Developers often have a certain user persona in mind when they write documentation. They make assumptions about API consumers' knowledge base and how much they're willing to put up with to get a good understanding of how the API works.
But your API consumers aren't so different from a standard software user, even if they are developers. If the UX of your documentation page sucks, they'll give up and forget about your API like a bad dream.
Here's how to improve the user experience for your documentation.
Create minimum viable documentation Writing API documentation from scratch isn't exactly a weekend project. The best API docs take years to build, iterate, and perfect.
But that doesn't mean you should spend months on your documentation before giving your consumers access to it. Developers love Twilio's API docs. They're robust, thorough, and come with plenty of resources and tutorials that let you dive right in.
They didn't build it overnight, but they did have all the proper pieces in place: As they built out their product, found more use cases, and addressed queries, they updated the site, equipped with a nicer, sleeker UI.
Browsing through this redesigned website, you'll find more quickstarts, more REST resources, and more error handling.
Establishing the framework of the site from the get-go enabled Twilio to update as they grew and improved their product. And once they became known for their thorough and remarkably clear documentation, they had a reputation to uphold. They recently updated the design again, with an even nicer UI.
A framework and all the vital information for a user to get started is enough to publish. From there, work outwards, adding resources, edge-cases and examples.
Most importantly, keep the user experience front-of-mind. Begin with a dynamic layout Post, a static layout hints at an outdated product. It's also difficult to navigate through, since it's essentially just a several-hundred page manual thrown onto a website.Slate allows you to write your API documentation by hand using markdown, which it will then package up as a pre-styled static HTML site for you.
it’s probably best to keep your image at. Web API Documentation Tools. We could move pretty quickly through an interface's docs back in the day, but it still took time to review, write, edit and publish, even for small changes.
Today, we have a new generation of tools focused on documenting Web APIs that, frequently, integrate directly into your code base and build processes to. Swagger The Best APIs are Built with Swagger Tools. Try SwaggerHub Explore Swagger Tools.
Improve developer experience with interactive API documentation.
Test. Perform simple functional tests on your APIs without overhead. Standardize. Set and . Dexy – Flexible documentation tool that supports any language, for any API.
Doxygen – Generate an on-line documentation browser (in HTML) and/or an off-line reference manual, and you can configure doxygen to extract the code structure from undocumented source files.
API documentation (API docs) or API specifications (API specs) On-line or hardcopy descriptions of the API, intended primarily for programmers writing in Java.
These can be generated using the Javadoc tool or created some other way. The Best API Documentation. As a developer, I often need to make use of API documentation to understand how to use a service on which I want to depend.