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Survival strategies for API documentation -- slides and recording

Feb 3, 2015 • api-doc, podcasts

I'm gave a webinar to the Southern Ontario STC on Monday, Feb 2. This post contains the slides and recording.

Webinar description

Survival strategies for API documentation

If you're documenting an API for the first time, you may be in survival mode just trying to decipher the code, unravel developer speak, and publish a coherent set of documentation. API documentation is a new landscape for most technical writers.

Traditional platform APIs are often published through a document generator such as Javadoc or Doxygen, while REST or web APIs are published using everything from document generators that parse Swagger and RAML specs to custom toolsets to manually-formatted web pages either from static site generators (such as Nanoc) or homegrown sites.

The reference documentation is actually the easy part. The real difficulty, and most likely the one you'll be tasked with, is showing developers how to use the API, the way the various endpoints or classes work together, and how you can piece it all together with the right parameters to achieve an actual business goal.

In this presentation, I'll give you an introduction to API documentation, try to answer your questions, and give you tips for getting started in the right direction.

For more details, see the STC Ontario site.

Video recording


Survival Strategies for API Documentation: Presentation to Southwestern Ontario STC chapter from Tom Johnson

You can also download the slides in PowerPoint format.


Length: 60 min.

Download MP3 (right-click and select Save As)

The presentation is similar to the one I gave at TC Camp, which I recorded and made available here. However, this presentation is more compressed, lasting just one hour instead of two.

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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.