API Documentation: The Secret to a Great API Developer Experience

  June 08, 2017

When it comes to providing a great developer experience, there is no substitute for a high performing, easy-to-use API. Developer experience will always start with providing a reliable API that teams will want to work with, and can trust to securely integrate with.

A critical component to providing a great developer experience is providing accurate and up-to-date API documentation. API documentation is the information that is required to successfully consume and integrate with an API. This could be in the form of technical writing, code samples, and examples for better understanding how to consume an API.

Today, some of the most well-known and widely adopted APIs are investing in rich, human friendly documentation for their APIs. Companies like Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, PayPal, and DropBox — which use internal and public APIs to drive technical orchestration and and strategic growth — are putting documentation at the center of their API developer experience.

Providing a great developer experience, with documentation at the center of it, has never been more accessible to API teams.

While in the past, teams had to rely on static forms of documentation — like PDFs or manually-updated webpages — there are now solutions to automate your documentation workflow, and build out interactive API docs that make consumption of APIs a smooth and easy process. There have been significant changes in the ways organizations document their APIs.

Nowhere are these changes more evident than in the widespread adoption of API description formats like the OpenAPI/Swagger Specification, which provide the building blocks for generating beautiful interactive API documentation that end consumers can interact with without having implementing it into their code base.

This auto-generated documentation is a central resource that your development team can customize, and build on to create a more comprehensive user manual for working with your API.

Starting your API documentation journey

Documentation is the usage manual of your API, and is one of the biggest drivers to achieving your API’s business goals. Creating API documentation your consumers will love takes effort, but the investment will have a significant payoff in the form of a great developer experience, easier implementation, and improved adoption of your API.

In our newest eBook, API Documentation: The Secret to a Great API Developer Experience, we will look at the factors that go into providing a great developer experience, and how documentation fits in. We will introduce best practices for API documentation, and will look at how teams can start documenting their APIs with Swagger and improve their existing documentation workflow in SwaggerHub. Get your copy below!