What is API documentation?
In order to get prepped for creating API documentation, one must first understand the concept. According to Wikipedia, “API documentation describes what services an API offers and how to use those services, aiming to cover everything a client would need to know for practical purposes.” The bottom line is that API documentation is necessary for the growth and conservation of applications when using APIs. It’s normally found in document files, yet it can be found in blogs, social media sites, forums and questions and answer websites.
API documentation—start with the basics
When it comes to creating API documentation, it’s neither black nor white. You most likely will never find a developer who is in alignment with another on how to proceed. Different opinions exist as to how to go forward, yet one thing remains the same—it’s important to stay focused. A clear path is the way to go because if you fall short of understanding the procedure, a great number of headaches will ensue.
For API documentation to be successful, start with the basics. It’s important to have in place a list of comprehensive points to continue in the right direction. Before proceeding, you must have a clear outline. This aligns the message so when you view it, an outline is clear.
Next, you need to have a direct plan for your synopsis and explanations. As a developer, in order to create correctly, you have to ask all the right questions such as did you cover every call, endpoint, etc. It may seem superfluous, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when covering all the bases, including verification. It’s necessary to verify for a secure foundation.
Having an explanation of an error code is a necessary step for all viewers. It’s important to have a clear roadmap to address the problems that may arise, as these formats state the issues that need to be addressed. In these instances, you need to have proper pieces in place to explain what’s happening with the API.
Easy navigation is key. Having a difficult page to plot through causes problems for anyone. Organization is necessary. Always keep in the mind that when someone is viewing a page, the simpler the better.
Furthermore, go the extra mile and always have anchor text in place. This adds a more simplistic searching experience all around. Additionally, having an easy-to-use panel that is clear and concise works to the reader’s advantage. Two or three panels makes for a more enjoyable experience.
Additionally, having troubleshooting support on hand is a much-needed added value. In the end, creating API documentation is all about keeping the reader in mind for the most seamless experience. The easier the better!
By the way, Stoplight provides Hosted API Documentation tools where you can design (adheres to Open API Specification) and document an API. You can leverage this documentation tool from Stoplight where you can combine your API Design (adheres to OpenAPI Specifications) and documentation.
Want to discover more? Read and gather additional information on API documentation.