Introduction to API documentation: Interview with Scot Marvin
Length: 30 min.
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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
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About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay 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.