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REST API documentation workshop recording (STC Sacramento)

by Tom Johnson on Mar 27, 2016
categories: api-doc

I recently gave a workshop on REST API documentation to the STC Sacramento chapter. The workshop is about 3.5 hrs long and covers a lot of the concepts that I detail in my API doc course. In the workshop I first show you how to use a REST API like a developer. We then walk through common sections in API documentation, especially reference topics. Finally I give a tour of API documentation publishing tools.

REST API documentation workshop recording

The REST API workshop that I gave in Sacramento the other week is available on Youtube here:

I didn’t edit the workshop content much at all. There are some times during the workshop where people struggled using Postman and cURL, so you might want to fast forward a few places if there’s an extended lull.

I also realized that I have about 9 hours of material that I tried to compress in 3.5 hours, so I ended up skipping around a lot with the slides. You can go through the same material online in my API doc course.

REST API workshop description

Here is a description of the REST API workshop:

Workshop on Documenting REST APIs

At its core, REST API documentation focuses on documenting requests and responses. You describe the various endpoints available, their methods, parameters, and other details. And you also document sample responses from the endpoints, usually describing each element and providing sample code.

In this workshop, you’ll learn the basics of REST API documentation. We’ll dive deeply into the following topics:

  • Resource descriptions
  • Endpoint definitions and methods
  • Parameters
  • Sample requests
  • Sample responses
  • Error codes
  • Code samples

You’ll also learn about a few tools and technologies that are useful in working with and testing REST APIs. Some of these tools include the following:

  • The command line
  • Chrome’s Developer Console
  • Postman REST client
  • cURL
  • JSON

With REST APIs, there’s not usually a GUI interface for users to navigate. Instead, the documentation itself provides the interface that users navigate. Because of this, we’ll also explore various ways to publish your API documentation. Here are a few platforms we’ll cover:

  • Github
  • Jekyll
  • Swagger
  • RAML

This course will mostly provide an introduction to these concepts. There are many detailed examples and activities you can walk through with the API documentation tutorials on my site here: API documentation course.

All participants in workshop will need the following:

  • Text editor (such as Sublime Text)
  • Postman REST client
  • Chrome
  • Git
  • cURL

In addition to covering technical strategies for documenting REST APIs, we’ll also talk generally about the job market for developer documentation, the skills in demand, and challenges in working in developer environments.

Future API doc workshop opportunities

I’ll be giving this REST API documentation workshop again at the STC Summit in Anaheim this year. You can read my STC pre-conference workshop here. There are still a few more spots for attendees.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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