RE: API Documentation

Subject: RE: API Documentation
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 09:38:59 -0700

> I've just become aware of the need (at least in the SF Bay area) for
> technical writers who can document Application Program (or
> Programmer) Interfaces. Can anyone point me to of a good "how to"
> reference on APIs?

NOTE: If you have programming skills, then you have already read many API
manuals. You had to learn C/Basic/Pascal/Java somewhere and whatever book
you used was some sort of an API manual. If you don't then read on....

While this has been beaten to death in the past, I will put my two cents in

To be an API writer, you must be able to read code, talk sensibly to
engineers about their code, read code, read specs filled with holes, read
code, and put all this together to create a manual which tells an engineer
how to write a specific type of program. Did I mention reading code. You
don't have to be a programmer, but it helps.

I write API manuals for interactive television programs.

I have been asked to give classes in API writing, and find it somewhat
baffling as to how one does this. If the writers have the above skills,
then a template will do the trick to get started. Consequently a one day
seminar on how the templates work and some tips on getting info from
engineers will suffice. If they don't have the skills, then I don't want to
give basic C/C++/Java classes. Without these skills, it will be very hard
to break into the market. I know of many writers having no code background
who were hired to do API manual sets. The results were disastrous for the
companies involved.

Anyway, if you want examples, they are everywhere. But for the sake of the
list. Check the archives for threads and sites.


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