Creating API Documentation

Learn how to write API reference documentation.

Industry standards for API experience

Over the years, many companies building API products have organically converged on a set of standardized documentation patterns and tools that they provide to their customers to learn about their APIs. Although there isn’t a specific list or guide to building API experience components, there are best practices that have been established by the leaders in the space.

API documentation starts with an API reference, which is often made directly from API specifications. There are additional components such as a sandbox, a Command-line Interface (CLI), SDKs, Postman Collections, and so on to aid in the developer’s journey. In addition to tools that help developers get started with using our APIs, there are also tools that are focused on existing customers who might be looking at the API documentation to diagnose a problem with their integration or make enhancements to their existing integration.

There is an opportunity to be innovative and introduce new tools and techniques to improve the user experience for APIs, and this can be a great opportunity for new product managers to bring new perspectives. In the following section, we'll learn about the key components of API experiences and the value they deliver to customers.

Drafting API documentation

The first thing a customer needs to start working with APIs is a set of documentation that introduces and educates them about the features and functionality of the APIs. Once they're ready to start exploring the APIs further, they should be able to generate API credentials they can use to start making their first API calls. To make this process self-serve, the documentation and developer portal must be designed in a thoughtful manner. In this section, we'll learn about the various components that are available on a developer portal to aid a developer’s journey from discovery to consideration, integration and testing, launch, and operational support, such as API references, the developer portal, API status pages, and the changelog, as well as integration guides and tutorials.

API references

API references are documentation that provide information about the methods, parameters, and other elements of an API. This is usually provided in the form of a technical reference manual or a set of online documentation pages, and it is intended to help developers understand how to use the API and integrate it into their own applications.

API reference documentation is important because it helps developers understand how the API works and how to use it effectively. By providing detailed information about the API’s methods, parameters, and other elements, the documentation can help developers understand how to use the API to achieve specific goals and make it more likely that they will be successful in integrating the API into their own applications. In addition, API reference documentation can also help developers troubleshoot problems and find solutions when they encounter issues while using the API.

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