RE: new tech writer

Subject: RE: new tech writer
From: "Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 08:48:41 -0700 (PDT)

Matthew Horn wrote:
> I don't think I know anyone who documents web
> services. And the ones that i have used don't
> really require much more doc than telling me what
> the return values are. Maybe there is more
> to it than I think....

You're absolutely right; docs for web service APIs
usually don't do much more than tell you what the
return values are.

But once web services actually get some paying
customers, I expect the customers will demand (or at
least appreciate) some more fleshed-out doc that
includes examples and conceptual information.

API developers tend to script out a skeleton HTML
framework, maybe fill in a few sentences, and call it
"API documentation." Well, that's better than nothing
and it might be good enough, but if you want to offer
your API in a competitive commercial situation you
should get an actual writer to finish the job.
Programmers have learned to tolerate skimpy API docs,
but they are amazed and gratified when they find
something better.

I documented an XML-based API for a dot-com. and the
examples and background info in the docs were credited
with some sales of web services, because the client
developers assigned to evaluate the API were able to
get up and running quickly, and were able to give a
glowing report to their boss. Didn't save the
dot-com, though :-(

Mike O.

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