API documentation is crucial in an API life cycle, drastically improving the API adoption rate. Because developers mostly use APIs, creating documentation to serve that audience is very tricky. Developers are analytical, strict with patience, and mostly look at your document to solve a specific problem. Your API must be just as good as the documentation.
So, What's API documentation?
API documentation is a technical piece of document that describes the API in general and contains information on how to use or "adopt" the API. The document is usually concise and helps the user get all the necessary information.
API documentation often contains information about the API's events, functions type, arguments, and so many other details that will ensure readers find what they are looking for. These topics are often demonstrated with examples and screenshots that improve readers understanding of the topic.
As I mentioned earlier, developers often read API documentation, which means they'll refer to the document very quickly. They want to get back to development as quickly as possible. Finding what they need when they need it is very crucial to the success of the document. This is why it is often structured in the most accessible way possible, using many tables of contents and subtitles.
Why does API documentation need to exist?
It is harder to write good documentation than it is to use the specific API itself. Developers need to know what your API does and how it does it. That's the primary function of the API documentation. Because it serves more as a reference document where developers can easily go back to check and have that "Ohh, so this is how it's done" moment.
Increases adoption rate
Whether your API is built internally by your company or it's a paid commercial product, developers still need to adopt your API into their program. Without proper documentation, an API might even do something developers never knew it does. Many developers dump APIs for another API just because of bad documentation. Yes. It happens.
Proper documentation will 100% let developers give an API a chance, therefore increasing how many people use the API.
If one developer likes it...
There are more chances others will too. This means the API will get more awareness. Especially if the API is paid. The API definitely needs to impress users if people are going to buy and adopt it. So the first reason leads to this one.
Through proper documentation, API awareness will definitely shoot up, and creates a cycle of people hearing about it, adopting it, boosting awareness, and then repeating the process itself.
APIs have helped many developers move very far in many development processes, and any developer you talk to will tell you the same thing. API documentation ensures that the API lives u to its true purpose by telling the developer in a very constructive way what it has to offer.
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