API Glossary

A| B| C| E| G| H| J| M| O| P| Q| R| S| V| Y|

A

API
Application Programming Interface. Enables different systems to interact with each other programmatically. Two types of APIs are REST APIs (web APIs) and native-library APIs.
API Console
Renders an interactive display for the RAML spec. Similar to Swagger UI, but for RAML.
API Blueprint
The API Blueprint spec is an alternative specification to OpenAPI or RAML. API Blueprint is written in a Markdown-flavored syntax. 
Asciidoc
A lightweight text format that provides more semantic features than Markdown. Used in some static site generators, such as Asciidoctor or Nanoc

B

branch
In Git, a branch is a copy of the repository that is often used for developing new features. Usually, you work in branches and then merge the branch into the master branch when you’re ready to publish. If you’re editing documentation in a code repository, developers will probably have you work in a branch to make your edits. The developers will then either merge your branch into the master when ready, or you might submit a pull request to merge your branch into the master. 

C

clone
In Git, clone is the command used to copy a repository in a way that keeps it linked to the original. The first step in working with any repository is to clone the repo locally. Git is a distributed version control system, so everyone working in it has a local copy (clone) on their machines. The central repository is referred to as the origin. Each user can pull updates from origin and push updates to origin. 
commit
In Git, a commit is when you take a snapshot of your changes to the repo. Git saves the commit as a snapshot in time that you can revert to later if needed. You commit your changes before pulling from origin or before merging your branch within another branch. 
Create, Read, Update, Delete. These four programming operations are often compared to POST, GET, PUT, and DELETE with REST API operations.
curl
A command line utility often used to interact with REST API endpoints. Used in documentation for request code samples. curl is usually the default format used to display requests in API documentation. 

E

endpoints and methods
The endpoints indicate how you access the resource, while the method indicates the allowed interactions (such as GET, POST, or DELETE) with the resource.

The same resource usually has a variety of related endpoints, each with different paths and methods but returning different information about the same resource. Endpoints usually have brief descriptions similar to the overall resource description but shorter. Also, the endpoint shows the end path of a resource URL only, not the base path common to all endpoints. 

G

Git
Distributed version control system commonly used when interacting with code. GitHub uses Git, as does BitBucket and other version control platforms. Learning Git is essential for working with developer documentation, since this is the most common way developers share, review, collaborate, and distribute code. 
GitHub
A platform for managing Git repositories. Used for most open source projects. You can also publish documentation using GitHub, either by simply uploading your non-binary text files to the repo, or by auto-building your Jekyll site with GitHub Pages, or by using the built-in GitHub wiki. 
Git repo
In Git, a repo (short for repository) stores your project’s code. Usually, you only store non-binary (human-readable) text files in a repo, because Git can run diffs on text files and show you what has changed.

H

HAT
Help Authoring Tool. Refers to the traditional help authoring tools (RoboHelp, Flare, Author-it, etc.) used by technical writers for documentation. Tooling for API docs tends to use docs-as-code tools more than HATs.
HATEOS
Stands for Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State. Hypermedia is one of the characteristics of REST that is often overlooked or missing from REST APIs. In API responses, responses that span multiple pages should provide links for users to page to the other items. 
Header parameters
Parameters that are included in the request header, usually related to authorization.
Hugo
A static site generator that uses the Go programming language as its base. Along with Jekyll, Hugo is among the top 5 most popular static site generators. Hugo is probably the fastest site generator available. Speed matters as you scale the number of documents in your project beyond several hundred. 

J

JSON
JavaScript Object Notation. A lightweight syntax containing objects and arrays, usually used (instead of XML) to return information from a REST API. 

M

Mercurial
A distributed revision control system, similar to Git but not as popular. 
method
The allowed operation with a resource in terms of GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, and so on. These operations determine whether you’re reading information, creating new information, updating existing information, or deleting information. 
Mulesoft
Similar to Apiary or Apigee, Mulesoft provides an end-to-end platform for designing, developing, and distributing your APIs. 

O

OAS
Abbreviation for OpenAPI specification.
OpenAPI
The official name for the OpenAPI specification. The OpenAPI specification provides a set of properties that can be used to describe your REST API. When valid, the specification document can be used to create interactive documentation, generate client SDKs, run unit tests, and more. You can read the specification details on GitHub at https://github.com/OAI/OpenAPI-Specification. Under the Open API Initiative with the Linux Foundation, the OpenAPI specification aims to be vendor neutral (many companies steer its development, not just one). 
OpenAPI contract
Synonym for OpenAPI specification document.
OpenAPI specification document
The file (either in YAML or JSON syntax) that describes your REST API. Follows the OpenAPI specification format. 
The governing body that directs the OpenAPI specification. Backed by the Linux Foundation. 
parameters
Parameters are options you can pass with the endpoint (such as specifying the response format or the amount returned) to influence the response. There are four types of parameters: header parameters, path parameters, query string parameters, and request body parameters.

The different types of parameters are often documented in separate groups on the same page. Not all endpoints contain each type of parameter. .
Path parameters
Parameters that appear within the path of the endpoint, before the query string (?). Path parameters are usually set off within curly braces. 
Pelican
A static site generator based on Python.  
Perforce
Revision control system often used before Git became popular. Often configured as a centralized repository instead of a distributed repository. 
pull
In Git, when you pull from origin (the master location where you cloned the repo), you get the latest updates from origin onto your local system. When you run git pull, Git tries to automatically merge the updates from origin into your copy. If the merge cannot happen automatically, you might see merge conflicts. 
Pull Request
A request from an outside contributor to merge a cloned branch back into the master branch. The pull request workflow is commonly used with open source projects because developers outside the team will not usually have contributor rights to merge updates into the repository. GitHub provides a user-friendly interface for making and processing pull requests. 
push
In Git, when you want to update the origin with the latest updates from your local copy, you run git push. Your updates will bring origin back into sync with your local copy. 

Q

Query string parameters
Parameters that appear in the query string of the endpoint, after the ?

R

RAML
Stands for REST API Modeling Language and is similar to OpenAPI specifications. RAML is backed by Mulesoft, a commercial API company, and uses a more YAML-based syntax in the specification. 
RAML Console
In Mulesoft, the RAML Console is where you design your RAML spec. Similar to the Swagger Editor for the OpenAPI spec.
Repo
A tool for consolidating and managing many smaller repos with one system. 
request
The way information is returned from an API. In a request, the client provides a resource URL with the proper authorization to an API server. The API returns a response with the information requested. 
request body parameters
Parameters that are included in the request body. Usually submitted as JSON. .
response example and schema
The response example shows a sample response from the request example; the response schema defines all possible elements in the response. The response example is not comprehensive of all parameter configurations or operations, but it should correspond with the parameters passed in the request example. The response lets developers know if the resource contains the information they want, the format, and how that information is structured and labeled.

The description of the response is known as the response schema. The response schema documents the response in a more comprehensive, general way, listing each property that could possibly be returned, what each property contains, the data format of the values, the structure, and other details. 
resource description
“Resources” refers to the information returned by an API. Most APIs have various categories of information, or various resources, that can be returned.

The resource description is brief (1-3 sentences) and usually starts with a verb. Resources usually have various endpoints to access the resource and multiple methods for each endpoint. On the same page, you usually have a general resource described along with a number of endpoints for accessing the resource, also described. .
response
The information returned by an API after a request is made. Responses are usually in either JSON or XML format. 
response example and schema
The response example shows a sample response from the request example; the response schema defines all possible elements in the response. The response example is not comprehensive of all parameter configurations or operations, but it should correspond with the parameters passed in the request example. The response lets developers know if the resource contains the information they want, the format, and how that information is structured and labeled.

The description of the response is known as the response schema. The response schema documents the response in a more comprehensive, general way, listing each property that could possibly be returned, what each property contains, the data format of the values, the structure, and other details. 
REST API
Stands for Representational State Transfer. Uses web protocols (HTTP) to make requests and provide responses in a language agnostic way, meaning that users can choose whatever programming language they want to make the calls. 

S

SDK
Software development kit. Developers often create an SDK to accompany a REST API. The SDK helps developers implement the API using a specific language, such as Java or PHP. S
Smartbear
The company that maintains and develops the Swagger tooling — Swagger Editor, Swagger UI, Swagger Codegen, SwaggerHub, and others. See Smartbear.
Sphinx
A static site generator developed for managing documentation for Python. Sphinx is the most documentation-oriented static site generator available and includes many robust features – such as search, sidebar navigation, semantic markup, managed links – that other static site generators lack. Based on Python. See staticgen.com/sphinx for high-level details. 
Static site generator
A breed of website compilers that package up a group of files (usually written in Markdown) and make them into a website. There are more than 350 different static site generators. See Jekyll in this course for a deep-dive into the most popular static site generator, or Staticgen for a list of all static site generators. See Static site generators for a deep-dive into this topic.
Stoplight
Provides a platform with visual modeling tools to create an OpenAPI document for your API — without requiring you to know the OpenAPI spec details or code the spec line by line. See http://stoplight.io/ for more information. See Stoplight — visual modeling tools for creating your OpenAPI spec for more information.
Swagger
Refers to API tooling related to the OpenAPI spec. Some of these tools include Swagger Editor, Swagger UI, Swagger Codegen, SwaggerHub, and others. These tools are managed by Smartbear. For more tools, see Swagger Tools. “Swagger” was the original name of the OpenAPI spec, but the name was later changed to OpenAPI to reinforce the open, non-proprietary nature of the standard. People sometimes refer to both names interchangeably (especially on older web pages), but “OpenAPI” is how the spec should be referred to. 
Swagger Codegen
Generates client SDK code for a lot of different platforms (such as Java, JavaScript, Scala, Python, PHP, Ruby, Scala, and more). The client SDK code helps developers integrate your API on a specific platform and provides for more robust implementations that might include more scaling, threading, and other necessary code. In general, SDKs are toolkits for implementing the requests made with an API. Swagger Codegen generates the client SDKs in nearly every programming language. 
Swagger Editor
An online editor that validates your OpenAPI document against the rules of the OpenAPI specification. The Swagger Editor will flag errors and give you formatting tips. 
Swagger UI
An open-source web framework (on GitHub) that parses an OpenAPI specification document and generates an interactive documentation website. Swagger UI is the tool that transforms your spec into the Petstore-like site.
SwaggerHub
A site developed by Smartbear to help teams collaborate around the OpenAPI spec. In addition to generating interactive documentation from SwaggerHub, you can generate many client and server SDKs and other services. 

V

VCS
Stands for version control system. Git and Mercurial are examples.
version control system
A system for managing code that relies on snapshots that store content at specific states. Enables you to revert to previous states, branch the code into different versions, and more. 

Y

YAML
Recursive acronym for “YAML Ain’t No Markup Language.” A human-readable, space-sensitive syntax used in the OpenAPI specification document. See