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   ► KBRole-Based T...Technical Wr...   Print This     
  From the October 2008 Issue of Prestwood eMag
Tech Writer Technical Writing:
API documentation - documenting the program code
Posted 11 years ago on 10/1/2008 and updated 3/25/2009
Take Away:

Overview and tips for documenting an Application Programming Interface (API).


Application Programming Interface (API) documentation provides information pertaining to the interfaces/classes/functions/objects used within the program module or for specific software application/product. Over a period of time, the developers/testers may not be able to remember all the API references. Hence, it is important to have this information stored and maintained in order to track changes between versions and able to manage this API information.

API documentation refers to documentation of the  software code. API includes interfaces, methods, classes and other user defined functions. It is important for developers to have this information being documented as they might not be able to remember all the API references and its related interfaces, classes, etc.

A technical writer working on API documentation needs to be well focussed towards the programming standards and understand the product architecture. The writer would be spending 50% of his time towarda analysis and understanding the code/APIs, 40% of the time will be spent towards documenting this code and 10% for the reviews.

As changes occurs with versions, service packs and new release over a period of time, it becomes necessary to update the existing documentation.

A writer needs to have this checklist in order to have a complete understanding of the ongoing API documentation:

  • Understand the software life cycle process
  • Glossary of the software terminologies
  • Product knowledge - architecture, specification
  • Programming language constructs
  • Definitions used in the programming language
  • Domain knowledge
  • End user requirements towards documentation
  • PM Process requirements and life cycle
  • Template/style guide for documentation


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