API reference tutorial overview
In this API reference tutorial, we’ll work on creating five common sections in REST API reference documentation: resource description, endpoints and methods, parameters, request example, and response example and schema. To provide some context (and to continue with our sample documentation scenario), we’ll structure the information from the new endpoint to document into these five sections.
Five common sections in REST API docs
Almost all API reference topics include these five sections:
- 1. Resource description
- “Resources” refers to the information returned by an API.
- 2. Endpoints and methods
- The endpoints indicate how you access the resource, while the method indicates the allowed interactions (such as GET, POST, or DELETE) with the resource.
- 3. Parameters
- Parameters are options you can pass with the endpoint (such as specifying the response format or the amount returned) to influence the response.
- 4. Request example
- The request example includes a sample request using the endpoint, showing some parameters configured.
- 5. Response example and schema
- The response example shows a sample response from the request example; the response schema defines all possible elements in the response.
Tutorial workflow map
The tutorial here includes a workflow map to help guide and orient you each step of the way.
After the tutorial
When we’re finished, the end result will look like a real API help topic (see the finished result in Putting it all together). In the associated activities, you’ll have an opportunity to edit or create an API reference topic with your own open-source API project.
Although there are automated ways to publish API docs, we’re focusing on content rather than tools in this section. In the next section, OpenAPI spec and generated reference docs, we’ll look at how to describe these same reference components using the OpenAPI specification. In the Publishing your API documentation section, we’ll look at ways to publish the information.
Now that you have an idea of the tutorial, let’s get started with the first section: Step 1: Resource description.
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