Software developer help
Complete and accurate documentation is the most important factor for developers when using an API. It is considered even more important than service availability and response time!
Is this a surprise? If developers don’t know what an API can do, or how to use it correctly, it doesn’t matter how great the service is, they are never going to find out about it.
This is why API documentation is considered the UI for an API.
API documentation is the ‘Marketing’ for an API
High-quality API documentation gives developers confidence in the API, the service and the brand. Poor documentation gives the impression of a poorly maintained API.
If the API is a key part of a product strategy rather than just a feature, the most effective way to promote the API to the people who will be using it – the developers – is to provide high-quality documentation.
API documentation is regularly cited as the biggest obstacle to creating apps. Good documentation encourages innovation thereby increasing the value of the service.
Producing high-quality API documentation and making it easily accessible is the best way to promote an API.
API documentation supports successful adoption of an API
APIs can have a steep learning curve. Getting to grips with the basic concepts of an API quickly so the developer can then start exploring the API is essential to its successful adoption. High-quality API documentation supports developers through this initial phase, thereby supporting successful adoption of the API.
Freemium and other tiered pricing models are the most popular pricing models for APIs. Getting developers over the initial learning curve builds confidence in the services and commitment to pay.
By understanding the full capability of the API, deveopers use more functionality and, therefore, further increase adoption of the service.l
What does high-quality API documentation look like?
Developers are consumers, and like consumers they like simple, well-designed, and easy-to-use products.
Developers expect to be able to find the information they need to get things done. The information required for APIs include the following:
- Getting started guide
This provides the details and concepts necessary for a developer to get up and running and in a position to start exploring and solving problems.
This is the detailed list of the functions of the API – the end points, parameters, error codes, code examples etc.
These are instructions on performing specific actions, for example, authentication.
As well as providing the necessary information, this information must be easily accessible, and findable. Developers often have the API documentation open all day as a reference where they can find what they need.
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