How to write quality API document

How to write quality API document
A detailed and quality-assured document will make working with API easier.

When you have just purchased a technical item, you should definitely read through the instructions for your installation.

Follow the exact steps in the supplied user guide, you're instantly set up and put into operation with ease.

Likewise, API document will help users know how to work and integrate this tool into applications more efficiently.

What's API document?

It can be commented, document is one of the most important factors affecting developers' experience when interacting with APIs (application programming interface).

It shows the capabilities of any API and describes the parameters involved in its use, sometimes with detailed examples.

Speak in the most understandable way, API document is simply a specific guide that outlines how to integrate APIs into programs.

Although it contains a lot of technical jargon, API document needs to be easy to read and follow.

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What should API document include?


Content of the summary should introduce general information about the API, along with the purpose of using them.

A section may also include the benefits of this API over other tools with similar features.

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Without a doubt, this is definitely the main body of an API document.

A section includes what the document writer wants to cover and clearly explains how to use the API.

They're often formatted in different ways and expressed in steps for users to integrate API to achieve a desired performance.

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A good document also contains reference links and includes detailed case-by-case examples of calls, responses, error handling, a number of other activities related to how developers interact with APIs…

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Glossary of terms

Not all API document includes a glossary for users.

However, 100% of users will definitely have a better impression when looking at the API document with the glossary, as it shows the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of the owner.

Make sure you always explain acronyms and technology terms to users the first time they use them.

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How to write quality API document

Know who the document reader is

Knowing who will read your API document helps you provide them with the most relevant content.

This also affects decisions about style, design and presentation.

Therefore, you should clearly define the audience that will access your document and what they will use it for.

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Compose a sketch

Note, you should create some sketches before officially writing the API document.

This will give you a better overview of what you need to present.

The next step is to collect information (API description, parameters, allowed programming languages, references...) for each sketch created.

Finally, combine all the details you have and present them in a logical sequence.

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Understanding APIs

API developer should also be the one who directly writes the document.

Because through the process of research, they will definitely understand everything about the API without having to guess any information.

Always keep in mind, the goal of the document is to show potential users how to use the API, who sometimes don't even have any technical knowledge.

Most importantly, experience the API for yourself to get a specific look, know how it works and how effective it is.

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There's always an example for each case

A quality API document is certainly not complete without detailed examples for each of the different use cases.

It will help users recognize which cases are compatible with them so that they can quickly and accurately apply.

Also, include the code snippets where it matters.

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Be clear, even if the document is purely technical!

As mentioned at the beginning, the API document is a guide that covers only technical content.

So, it must be said that it's very rigid!

But don't let that cause users to fall into a state of “bewilderment” when they don't know what the document is writing.

A quality API document should not only contain complex words, it must be logical - simple - clear.

The API document writer can be compared to an artist.

Hard part and art is that your API document should be in its simplest form, but without leaving out any important details!

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Let's divide into sections

An API document that is purely technical will be simpler if the content is numbered or divided into separate sections.

Specific step-by-step instructions will help users figure out what they need to do at all times.

At the same time, users also completely know where to turn back when encountering errors easily.

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Diversity in presentation

A good and quality API document is unrestricted in formatting as well as presentation.

You can take advantage of a variety of forms beyond just plain text to demonstrate API integration, like video or PowerPoint…

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Check and finalize

When you read your own API document, no matter how many times, there will always be something that you need to correct - update or even delete.

This's also a familiar experience of writers.

A gold goes through several furnaces before it is refined.

And your API document also needs to go through a similar process to become “a valuable asset”.

Remember to always re-read your API document multiple times and get expert input before making it public.

A due diligence process will help you to reduce errors significantly and produce the highest quality API document.

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