The Importance of API documentation

Updated: an hour ago

By Ryehan Khan

It’s safe to say that we live in a world governed by technology. A world in which more people are connected than ever before. APIs are playing an ever-increasing role in connecting us from helping developers build powerful apps that have access to large data sources to moving data internally in a corporation, APIs have become ubiquitous. However, without having documentation which clearly communicates how to integrate and consume APIs, developers would not be able to leverage the power of APIs to develop innovative business models; invent new business opportunities; improve existing products, systems, and operations. Within the developer community this is a daunting task. Developers are analytical, precise, and eager to learn how to make use of your APIs therefore documentation is extremely important in their educational journey.


API documentation that is comprehensive, well-designed, and easy-to-use is fundamental to ensuring a good developer experience. Essentially, it is the crux of usability for an API. Poorly written documentation leads to a world of difficulty for developers. The more difficult it is to understand and consume the API, the higher the chance of the API being worthless.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of API documentation and why eXate do it so well.


How documentation impacts a company

Research by FinancesOnline shows that investing in documentation management results in a 404% ROI over five years. This clearly states the advantage of investing in an asset such as documentation and the ability it has to contribute to the growth of a company.


To ensure better growth and user adoption, people should enjoy using your product. This is communicated through good documentation which focuses on educating your audience on the value that your product provides. This in turn, will help drive widespread adoption for your APIs.


A happy customer is a loyal customer. Developers have their own community in which they discuss exciting new technologies. If you have a satisfied consumer, they will be the biggest advocate for your API. Therefore, this would trigger the network effect by which your consumers would promote your API to other developers thus leading to more publicity for your company.


Documentation will reduce support time and costs. The time spent onboarding new developers (internal and external) would decrease. It will be easier for new developers to see how the API operates and how easy it is to maintain it so that it continues working well as updates are applied.


eXate Documentation

At eXate, we’ve joined the renaissance of evolution for API documentation. Instead of following the traditional static documentation style our API documentation is dynamic, interactive and follows the OpenAPI standard, keeping our documentation and implementation in sync. Thus, mitigating the well-known and all too common problem of “out-of-date” documentation. We focus on delivering API documentation that is clear, accurate and provides the following:

  • Detailed API overviews

  • Endpoint definitions

  • Versioning

  • Request/Response samples and parameters

  • Success and error responses

  • Authentication guide

  • Syntax highlighting

  • Persistent navigation

  • Multi-column layout

  • Single Page design

  • Search feature


Conclusion

It is crucial to design well developed documentation in order to elevate the developer experience which essentially translates to a good user experience. By doing so, this will offer the API interaction that developers deserve, allowing them to experience API performing at its maximum potential whilst understanding the value of the API without relying on customer support or FAQS to guide them on their journey.


I conclude this blog with this quote: “If APIs are the product, documentation is the product interface.”

24 views0 comments