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Introduction to API documentation: Interview with Scot Marvin

Jun 16, 2014 • api-doc, podcasts

Intro to API documentation, a podcast with Scot Marvin

Length: 30 min.

Download MP3 (right-click and select Save As)

In this podcast, I talk with Scot Marvin, an API technical writer based in Oregon, about some introductory topics with API documentation. Topics covered in the podcast include the following:

  • The prevalence of APIs 15 years ago compared to today
  • The definition of an API
  • What technical writers are responsible to document with APIs
  • Where technical writers get information about the requests, parameters, and other technical details with APIs
  • Whether technical writers get info from the API code or from other sources, such as specs
  • The difference between reading versus writing code
  • Documentation beyond the reference API that tech writers create
  • The difference between an SDK and API
  • Some paths people take that lead them to doing API documentation
  • Whether tech writers are at a disadvantage without a dev background when creating API doc
  • What format the response of an API usually delivered in (JSON, XML)
  • How a REST API differs from a Java API
  • How does SOAP differ from REST
  • Examples of some good sample API doc sites, and why
  • The amount of continual study and learning needed to thrive in API doc space

For more information about Scott, see his Twitter handle scotmarvin or his website

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in simplifying complexity, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.