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Using ClickHelp for API Documentation

Posted by
Anastasia in ClickHelp Features on 6/25/20193 min read

Programmer

The API industry keeps growing, and many companies require software for technical writing that would allow creating more comprehensive API technical documentation. No doubt, you can create API documentation even in plain text, but would it be readable? Modern techcomm specialists are striving for more efficient and user-friendly docs, so, certain requirements exist that a help authoring tool should meet to become a more obvious choice for API tech writers.

This blog will explain why ClickHelp is a robust and reliable solution for those creating API documentation. And, we would like to approach another API-related topic here - using a REST API to automate your help writing process in ClickHelp. We are going to actually give you a real life example of how one of our clients Orca significantly reduced time and effort spent on help authoring thanks to a REST API.

Creating API Docs in ClickHelp

Developer

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear 'API documentation’ is code examples. And, that's true. API manuals have everything to do with code samples. So, when choosing a software documentation tool, you need to make sure it allows working with code. ClickHelp contains a toolset designed specifically for this purpose.

  • First, our online documentation tool allows building a flexible workflow and that is the key ingredient for many API docs. In ClickHelp, you can create a two-way communication channel between documentation and development teams that can be of great help. Quite often, technical writers, while being aware of API basics, still need assistance from devs and this would really hinder the technical writing process if not for the flexible workflow options our tool provides.
  • Second, code examples in user manuals need to be readable. For that, ClickHelp offers code highlighting. Some might think it is not a big deal, but it really is. Even devs get lost in code at times, let alone novice readers. Highlighted code is a prerequisite for API docs.
  • Another useful feature ClickHelp has is visually separating code from text. This is possible due to CSS styles you can apply to your technical documentation. We even designed a documentation template specifically for API docs that showcases this approach - all code can be placed inside darker blocks contrasting the white blocks with regular text.

A bit of a side note - we have an article containing API docs guidelines you might find useful since you are interested in this topic.

Automating Tech Writing using REST API

Code

For many of our clients, the technical writing process looks pretty much the same. Let's imagine you write documentation for a regularly updated product - you create documentation for a new product build, review it, publish the needed outputs of your docs and, for example, export them to WebHelp. This process repeats itself each time a new product build is created. That’s not a complicated process to follow, but thanks to the fact that each ClickHelp portal comes with a REST API, some steps can be automated.

Documentation set builds can be triggered on the ClickHelp server as soon as a new product build is about to be released. This way, using simple API calls, our clients can build scripts to generate every documentation combination they need using specific tag sets. Such an approach can get you amazing results as delivering documentation becomes much quicker.

Conclusion

We believe that words do not mean much if you can't try a product and see for yourself whether it works for you. So, our team is happy to offer a free 30-day ClickHelp trial. This trial has no functionality limitations, and if you are looking for a tool to create API user manuals or looking for a way to automate your documentation delivery, give it a try!

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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