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Importance of API Documentation 

  • Featured Insights
  • March 14, 2023

Wondering the importance of API Documentation? Let us first understand API. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It enables two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols. In an API architecture, the client application sends the request, and the server application sends the response.

Often organizations use legacy systems to drive businesses across various platforms. An enterprise automation architecture should provide the RPA (Robotic Process Automation) team with the standard APIs for the integration of these legacy systems enabling rapid automation by harnessing the core business potential.

Good API documentation is critical for support and maintainability of automations utilizing APIs.

The RPA team while utilizing the API should maintain documentation containing the information required to work with the API.

The team could follow a standardized template to make the most of the documentation. The following will help in creating good and effective documentation with specific sections. 

Know your audience

It could be divided into sections targeting different roles in the organization. There should be an introduction section giving information that should be easily understood even by people who are new to APIs.

In this section, we could avoid jargon to increase the reach of the documentation across non-technical members as well. This could uncover potential new use cases provided by the business teams to the RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) team.

Conclusion

Good API documentation for the RPA processes leads to efficient implementation and greater Return on Investment (ROI). It not only helps in reducing the time of knowledge transfer to new team members but also ensures that the best practices are being followed, uniformly aligned with the organization’s governance rules.

The support team could drive great benefit from this API documentation as well and effectively handle the process. At the same time, it helps the developer to kick start the development of the new features for the RPA process. Overall, a good API documentation saves time and costs, and accelerates productivity along the length and breadth of the organization.

Create a User Journey Guide

Consider the documentation as a journey guide with the information outlined in the order of the utilization of APIs in the RPA process with relative examples.

Document details about the critical components of the API Documentation:

  • API Documentation Link: Include the source of documentation for the APIs used in the automation within the design document. This could be a link to an internal wiki, or the vendor’s documentation portal, or a swagger link, etc. Also clearly state which version of the API is being used. 
  • Authentication: APIs could contain multiple authentication schemes, so it becomes vital to document and explain each authentication method to enable users to better understand how to access the API.  Also explain where the keys are stored (Credential store, Identity Management Systems etc.). 
  • Endpoint definition: There could be many endpoints utilized in the RPA process. Document them with suitable examples along with the proper description of the variables if utilized in the endpoints. It is also critical to mention the order of the endpoints as per the requirements. 
  • Entity explanation: List all the parameters used in the API. 
  • Response details: List all the possible response status codes and results for the corresponding request. Also, provide the possible solution to error messages. 
  • Error handling/troubleshooting: Along with each endpoint utilized in the RPA process it is important to give the details about exceptions and their handling steps. For the support team, it leads to the effective handling of known exceptions and alerts any unknown error to the respective team. 
  • Term of Use: Mention the specifics of the legal agreement between the producer and the consumer, specifying the constraints about the permitted uses of the API. 
  • Changelog: Include the details about the version history and the respective point of contact under this section. 
  • FAQ: Maintaining and updating this section is vital for the updated and efficient use of the API in the RPA process. 
  • Glossary: Explain the technical terms throughout your documentation for effective understanding.