Table of Contents
- How to write useful documentation for your API
- Creating documents for the selected API
Documentation is an essential part of any API, and this is what we’re going to create in this article. For anyone to use your API, they need to know how to use it; This is where API documentation’s job comes. Detailed documentation is the most essential characteristic when building an API.
After you’ve built the API, you need to distribute it in a marketplace so that anyone can use it. One of the most famous and largest marketplaces to host your API on is RapidAPI.
Millions of developers use RapidAPI to launch their APIs. RapidAPI made it easy for API providers to host their API and monetize it with their huge base of developers who can use it. You can get started with this basic tutorial on their website to start adding your API.
How to write useful documentation for your API
Writing useful documentation for your API is essential as it will showcase your API and highlight its capabilities. It will also help sell your API. Here are some tips for writing useful documentation.
Target Your Audience:
Please don’t assume that people using your API are developers. Try to address the newcomers who are just starting in the field as well as the professional developers who need to do their job and make decisions.
This is how you will make the users connect with your API. You need to explain how to set it up and make the user obtain the API key.
Try the API Tool:
In your documentation, you can integrate a small tool for users to try out your API and see it in action. You can make requests and see the response immediately.
This is the agreement you put between the user and your company, it should define how the user uses your services without violating your company’s terms
This is a hard process to do but it’s very important, you should keep your API updated, well maintained, and working efficiently.
This is the main component that your users will consume. It is important to define all your endpoints clearly, but we’ll discuss them in more detail in a moment.
Good User Interface:
Your team should have a styling guide and a consistent structure to follow when building the documentation. It should provide a good user experience that helps the developers in their journey.
Include images and screenshots that have a description for your API. Try to choose high-quality images that showcase your API in a good way.
Your documentation page should have a link for GitHub that includes your API documentation so that anyone can pull a request and recommend a change. Developers should also be able to create tutorials for your API.
Get Started tutorial:
Include a short 3-5 minute tutorial to attract your audience and show them what they can do with the API. People want to see something that works from the beginning to the ending before going deeper.
How to choose a description for the API?
Any API’s purpose is to get and deliver information for the consumer, this information is called resources. Each resource has a description that describes it and lists all the endpoints that can use this resource and have access to it.
A description is added for each resource with its endpoint listed after it.
For example, here “FAQ” is the resource and has various endpoints, each has a different method describing its action.
- POST /FAQ/ “Post all FAQs”
- GET /FAQ/search “GET FAQ by searching”
- DELETE /FAQ/id “Delete specific FAQ by its id”
All API documentation features something called an “Endpoint”. An endpoint is how the API and the server communicate with each other to deliver information from the server to the API. It’s like a tunnel that has access to the resources and the data on the server.
Each endpoint is defined by 5 main sections, they can be classified differently but they all have the same concept and usage. This endpoint structure is what makes API documentation professional and recognizable. You can have as many or as few endpoints for an API as needed, so you’ll need to have a consistent structure.
1. Resource Description:
This describes the endpoint and what it does. It shows the type of information that the endpoint retrieves and all the resources that it can get.
Here you describe how you will access the resources or information. Are you going to POST, PUT, GET or, DELETE the resource. This is where you have to specify the method you will use next to the endpoint’s name.
4. Request Demo:
Your API documentation should show the API abilities and what they can do. You do this by adding a demo REQUEST using the endpoint and use some of the parameters but not all of them.
After you’ve sent the request, you want to show its response in the form of a JSON format output.
All these five elements of the endpoint description should be included in every endpoint you create, that’s how an endpoint is defined.
Creating documents for the selected API
Now we’ll go through how you should build your documentation. So let’s get started.
Your document page should include a brief introduction about what the API is and when it should be used. Creating a dashboard for users to get their API key can be very helpful. Just keep in mind that this key enables users to gain full control of the API, so it must be secured. It is also important to include each endpoint with detailed instructions on a reference page.
For example, let’s look at the Twitter API. They have tutorials for all the APIs they create. It’s a step-by-step guide to get started, and each tutorial explains the endpoints they offer to get the API to work.
Another good example is the Dropbox API documentation, which allows users to first choose what programming language they’ll use before they move on to the next steps.
Having clean code makes users happy when they use your API. You want to make it easy for the developers to use your API. Your code should go through testing to find any errors and fix them before coming to the deployment phase.
The most essential part of the API documentation is the user experience. It should be user friendly and have a good looking view for the users to use easily.
As you can see, documenting your API is very crucial. It showcases your API and what it can do. It’s essential to achieve your business goals. We guarantee good documentation if you follow the above guide.