August 31, 2020

What Is API Documentation?

API Lifecycle Management

API documentation is critical to the success of your APIs

Why? APIs are continually becoming the glue with which our digital world is interconnected.

Companies of all sizes are relying on APIs to ignite their digital transformation. This unlocks new value by exposing their capabilities to an ecosystem of developers and partners.

What Is API Documentation?

API documentation is technical content that documents the API. It includes instructions on how to effectively use and integrate the API. It also provides updates on the API’s lifecycle such as new versions or retirement. Some aspects of API documentation can be generated automatically via Swagger or other documents.

Once those APIs are published, API documentation makes sure another party (both internally and externally) know what to do with it.

Think of API documentation as a reference manual that has all of the information you need to work with the API. It tells the developer/partner/consumer everything that is possible with the API, and how to get started. It also puts all necessary pieces in place to perform Swagger API testing, or get Swagger editor rolling.

API Documentation Is One Part Of API Management...

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Benefits: Why Write API Documentation?

A large reason why API documentation is important is to increase API adoption. Comprehensive documentation on all of the functionality, how to effectively use and integrate, and updates on the API lifecycle improves the experience for those using your APIs.

Could you use an API without documentation? Sure, it’s technically possible. But you can grasp the API’s technical content and integration instructions much better with complete and accurate documentation.

API documentation is important in your lifecycle. But do you know everything there is to know about the lifecycle? Explore our hub and become an expert today. 

👉 Become an Expert. Explore the API Lifecycle Hub >>


API Documentation Example: What Does It Look Like?

Here's an example of API documentation structure.


Your overview includes:

  • A summary of the API functionality.
  • Links to reference documentation for the operations.
  • A Getting Started section that illustrates key information and steps for using the API.

Developer Guide

A developer guide is reference documentation for each API operation (method).

A typical organization might include:

  • Use cases.
  • URI (endpoint).
  • Sample request.
  • Request parameters.
  • Sample response.
  • Response parameters.
  • Error handling information.

User Guide

A user guide includes instructions for how to connect to the API. Ideally, it provides a walkthrough of API use cases, so new users understand how to use the API.

How to Write API Documentation With Akana

Writing API documentation is easy with Akana. The following short video shows you how to document an API within the Akana API management platform. Keep reading for a full recap.

1. Find Your API

First, you'll go find your API in the Akana developer portal and go to the details page. Click edit. 

2. Edit the Summary and Description

Then, you'll edit the description of the API. This is your API documentation. 

You can include lists, tables, and external links. 

3. Save Your API

Click save, and your API will updated with API documentation.

4. Update Individual Resources

You can edit individual resources in the API to add API documentation. 

5. Save Again

Save your individual resources descriptions, and Akana will update the API documentation instantly. 

Akana Makes API Documentation Easy

Akana makes API documentation easy. The platform’s ability for API publishers to choose the description language of their choice. It then automatically generates each of the other description language documents. This allows both developers and consumers to work with their preferred language.

Within Akana, administrators are able to upload and manage API documentation, too. This reduces the effort involved in authoring API documentation with dynamically generated documents.

Additionally, publishers can control visibility of documents and document elements based on licenses. The platform offers a series of visibility filters that you can use to control the display of applicable API documentation files, or portions of content within individual files, to authorized users.

See for yourself what Akana can do for you, from API documentation to your portal — and beyond.

▶️ Watch the full Demo