The Art of API Documentation
4.4 (653 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
3,402 students enrolled

The Art of API Documentation

API Documentation 3: Teaches technical writers how to write API overview material, tutorials, etc.
4.4 (653 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
3,401 students enrolled
Created by Peter Gruenbaum
Last updated 2/2020
English
English
Current price: $15.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 36% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 1 article
  • 13 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Write API conceptual documentation, such as overviews, getting started sections, and tutorials.
  • Make calls to REST APIs using visual and command-line tools.
  • Find an open source project to document as a way of gaining experience.
Requirements
  • You should be familiar with APIs and how to document requests and responses (for web APIs) and classes and members (for platform APIs).
  • Google Chrome is required for one of the exercises.
Description

Course Description

This is the third in a series of courses for technical writers who want to learn how to write API documentation. The first two courses are called "Learn API Technical Writing: JSON and XML for Writers" and "Learn API Technical Writing: REST for Writers", and it's recommended that you first take those courses, unless you are very familiar with API documentation, and how to document reference material.

This course teaches how to write conceptual API documentation, such as overviews, getting started sections, and tutorials. For the most part, no programming experience is required, but technical writers with programming experience will still find it useful.

In addition to conceptual material, this course covers guidelines for good sample code, tools for making REST requests, and how to find an open source project to document as a way to get into the field of API writing.

What are APIs?

APIs (Application Program Interfaces) define how software systems talk to each other, and API documentation is a rapidly growing field. There is a strong need for writers who can understand APIs and explain them so that software developers can understand how to use them. API writers get to be in on the cutting edge of technology in high-paying positions.

What is Conceptual Material?

API documentation consists of reference material and conceptual material. Reference material describes the details of the API: what are the pieces of each request and response, or each class and member. Conceptual material orients developers so that it's easy for them to get started with a new API.

What is in This Course?

By the end of the course, you will understand how to write good API conceptual material, how to make REST calls using GUI and command-line tools, and how to find an open source project to document. In this course you'll find:

  • 8 videos that:
    • Describe how to write good conceptual material
    • Provide guidelines for good sample code
    • Demonstrates how to use tools to make REST calls
    • Leads you through examples of how to find open source projects on the internet
  • 2 hands-on exercises to lead you through making REST requests using tools
  • PowerPoint presentations as a resource for every video lecture
  • A PDF with resources for finding open source projects

The course takes approximately 1 hours and 30 minutes to complete, depending on how fast you are with the exercises.

Who this course is for:
  • This course is designed for technical writers who have some understanding of how to write API reference material.
  • No programming knowledge is required.
  • Take the first two courses in the series if you need a stronger understanding of APIs.
  • This course does not cover how to document reference material (requests, responses, classes, members, etc.)
Course content
Expand all 13 lectures 58:52
+ Introduction
1 lecture 04:44

This lecture covers:

  • What are APIs and why are they important?
  • Why is API documentation important?
  • The difference between conceptual and reference material
  • What is in this course
Preview 04:44
+ API Conceptual Material
5 lectures 23:58

This lecture covers:

  • Why is API conceptual material important?
  • A quick description of:
    • Overviews
    • Getting Started
    • Tutorials
    • Sample Code
Preview 03:57

This lecture covers:

  • Explaining "Why", not just "How"
  • Key Concepts
  • Workflow diagrams
  • Architecture diagrams
API Overview Material
05:14

This lecture covers:

  • Why a Getting Started section is critical
  • What "Hello World" means
  • The structure of Getting Started sections
  • What should be in a Web API Getting Started section
  • What should be in a Platform API Getting Started section
Getting Started Section
04:12

This lecture covers:

  • The importance of tutorials
  • Identifying common tasks
  • The structure of tutorials
  • Screenshots
Preview 03:02

This lecture covers:

  • Why developers like sample code
  • Guidelines for good sample code
  • Web API vs. Platform API sample code
  • Link to an article on this subject
Sample Code
07:33
+ Tools
3 lectures 07:58

This lecture covers:

  • Why tools for calling REST APIs are useful
  • GUI tools
  • Command-line tools (cURL)
Tools for Calling REST APIs
07:58

This lecture shows you how to install Postman, the GUI app, and then use it to make REST calls.

Hands-on Exercise: GUI REST client (Postman)
4 pages

This lecture how to install cURL, the command-line tool, and then use it to make REST calls.

Hands-on Exercise: Command-line Tool (cURL)
5 pages
+ Where to Go From Here
4 lectures 12:12

This lesson covers:

  • How to break into the field of API documentation
  • What is an open source project?
  • GitHub
  • How to find an open source project to document
Finding an Open Source Project to Document
07:26

This lecture covers:

  • A summary of all previous lectures
  • Next steps
Review
04:20

This lecture contains an outline that shows a suggested structure for API documentation.

API Documentation Outline
1 page

Get a discount on the first course in the next series, which is Coding for Writers: Basic Programming.

Bonus Lecture: Offer for First Course in the Next Series
00:26