Reference Documentation

It is helpful for API consumers to have complete documentation for the entire surface area of an API, providing a complete reference of what is possible with an API to help consumers explore every path, parameter, schema, and other details of how an API works, making the resources and capabilities available within API something consumers can find and put to use without much work.

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The most common form of API documentation is what can be described as reference documentation, providing a complete “menu” of all paths available for an API, along with all the parameters, headers, body, and examples to put to use. Ideally reference documentation is logically organized using folders and tags, and provides informative and useful summaries and descriptions for every individual path. Every API should have up to date and informative reference documentation that allows API consumers to understand the entire scope of an API, but also find exactly the path or paths they need to use as part of their application or integration. Reference documentation for all APIs is an essential part of a healthy API lifecycle, but teams should also be considering what other forms of documentation would help new users, specific domains, as well as describing some of the most common workflows an API is used for when it comes to desired business outcomes.


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