January 25, 2014 Update: The API Workshop is totally full now. However, we may repeat it in the summer.
Since moving to California, I've noticed there's a high demand for technical writer jobs involving API documentation, but there's not much in the way of instruction, resources, or other events that provide training with API documentation.
When I mentioned this to some local STC chapter leaders, they encouraged me to find an API expert and organize a workshop around API documentation. So I did. Here are the details.
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Location: Nimble Storage, Inc., 211 River Oaks Parkway, San Jose CA 95134
Cost: $100 STC members, $125 non-members (includes lunch)
Sponsor: STC Silicon Valley Chapter
Instructor: Jim Bisso
Please bring your laptop
One of the hottest markets for technical communication jobs in Silicon Valley is API documentation. Yet few tech comm books, conference sessions, or workshops tend to focus on developing API documentation skills.
One reason is that API documentation is typically seen as the developer's domain, requiring a programmer's level of knowledge to navigate. In reality, technical writers can create helpful API documentation without being full-fledged programmers.
With a working knowledge of the code you're documenting, you can create API documentation that includes descriptions of objects, methods, arguments, as well as code samples and other details to help developers understand how to successfully use an API.
In this all-day workshop, Jim Bisso, a veteran of API documentation and author of Documenting APIs—Writing Developer Documentation for Java APIs and SDKs, will cover a variety of topics to help technical writers get started with API documentation. Specifically, the workshop will include the following:
What is an API?
The constituent elements of an API
Objects, operations, and properties
What is API documentation?
Doing it by hand
Using tools to generate API docs
What are the different kinds of API documentation (or developer documentation)?
API references vs programmer's guides
Tutorials and sample code
Best practices, design patterns, anti-patterns, and idioms
Writing good API documentation
How much programming do I need?
How to get information from developers (and other SMEs, support, QA, etc)
Organization (and style) of API docs
Illustrations: UML and other diagrams
Demo and hands on examples
There will also be a broad overview of tools and languages, and some specific sample API docs.
About the instructor
Jim Bisso has 25 years of experience writing API documentation for such companies as Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Inprise, and Taligent. He has also taught computer science and documenting APIs at UC Berkeley Extension, Golden Gate University, Mills College, and the University of San Francisco. Jim has also been a corporate trainer for Oracle University and Bitzone LLC.
I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.