API Documentation Tools do More than Save You Time

Tim Marsh
Tim Marsh
May 7, 2018 · 4 min read

tl;dr
Webservices are available to manage the documentation of APIs. Using these services increases efficiency, reduces errors, and simplifies collaboration and maintenance. Some services take this a step further by then integrating your API with a host of other services, and exposing your API to a broader base of users.

For more than a year, the big headlines in business media have been about artificial intelligence, bots, and business automation. Those businesses that have caught the new wave are reaping the rewards of financial success. While those taking a ‘wait and see’ stance are already being left behind. The main cause of businesses failing to take advantage of automation opportunities is a lack of skill in this area.

Source: https://www.retriever.nl/en/buzzword/api/

In nearly all circumstances, automation is dependent on events and information coming from other sources. So at the heart of any automation process is the interface between different software and information sources. This Application Programming Interface is known as an API. The more APIs a business provides, and the more functional they are, the more activity the business is likely to attract through automation. But having the API is only part of the solution. To be widely used, an API must be well documented.

The quality and functionality of API documentation is dependent on the tools that were used to create it. Even the best documentation can develop inconsistencies and contradictions if it is written in a tool that does not enable automated version control and synchronised collaboration. For example, an API document created using Microsoft Word might be of very high quality originally. But if different people make changes to different versions, it will gradually degrade in quality over time.

The Right Tools for The Job

By selecting the right tool for documenting your APIs, you can do more than prevent errors due to the problems of version control. There are many instances in API documentation when the same term needs to be spelled exactly for it to work, and where a code snippet is reused in many locations. A good API documentation tool will manage this automatically by generating code snippets based on the information provided. Some API tools take this one step further and test the code in a live environment. Doing this verifies that the code works and avoids bugs caused by copying and pasting code or, even worse, re-typing it.

Some API documentation tools also assist the developer by stepping them through an ordered process that gathers the right information about the API at the right time. It then automatically writes much of the required documentation, including the code users might require, in a variety of popular programming languages. Doing this streamlines the documentation process and gives users instant access to code solutions.

Boosting Discovery and Usage

Unfortunately, once all of the hard work has been done writing and documenting an API, many users remain unaware of this new functionality. Many users don’t even wonder if an API might exist to do their job. So to make all the hard work pay off, an API must be easy to discover and use.

The big advantage of using the API documentation service provided by Socket is that after creation, it can be automatically added to their marketplace of API resources. This powerful library already contains 300 APIs that are ready to use as plug-and-play solutions. By enabling APIs to be public or private, the creators retain control of their usage while still benefiting from the service. Users also benefit by having an environment to test their code and APIs in real time then access code in languages including Java, C, C#, Shell, Go, PHP and many more. And as an extra bonus, this library of APIs is just part of a suit of services that simplify all online automation processes.

So by using the free service provided by Socket for documenting APIs, you gain access to customers developing powerful workflows with many other APIs as well. When they access the API marketplace, they’ll see your brand and get easy access to your API. At this stage you might be wondering how Socket manages to get so many APIs for its library, and why it provides its documentation service for free when the competition can be so expensive. But this question answers itself. Socket provides end-to-end automation services that benefit from the broadest possible range of up-to-date APIs. To attract developers to supply API documentation, and to do this in a way that is automated and updated easily, Socket provide their API documentation tool for free.

300 APIs ready to be integrated into your automation project

Using Data or Information
The major advantage gained by using Socket’s API documentation tool is that you’re included in a powerful suite of software services. These services include:

  • The generation of webhook destinations
  • The development of smart workflows using simple code
  • The integration with their extensive API library
  • Dashboard to monitor and respond to all of the activity that’s been generated.

Their generous, free package allows up to 5,000 API invocations per month, which is enough for most businesses setting out on their automation journey. This means that by using Socket to automate your API documentation processes, you’ll attract new business and hang on to them as they expand their automation capabilities. And you get this service for free.

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