All-in-one Collaborative API Development Platform

API Design

API Documentation

API Debugging

API Mock

API Automated Testing

Sign up for free

What Is the Difference Between an API & API Documentation

Start for free
Home / Basic Knowledge / What Is the Difference Between an API & API Documentation

What Is the Difference Between an API & API Documentation

APIs and API documentation are both relevant to software development, but they serve different purposes. Understanding the difference between the two can help developers use them better and write quality code more easily.

What Is API?

Imagine that when person A purchases a new computer, they want to extend the display screen to a color-accurate screen. Person A can use an HDMI cable to connect the screen to the HDMI port of the computer, and the previously black screen suddenly displays a lively picture. During this process, person A does not need to know what parameters are used to transmit the image between the screen and the computer, nor do they need to understand the logical principles of color display on the screen. They only need to master the simple method of using the HDMI interface to meet their needs.


Similar to HDMI, an API (Application Programming Interface) is essentially a virtual port. Two products follow the same set of information communication protocols, and after pairing successfully, multiple functions are integrated and work together to achieve an effect of 1+1>2.

What Is API Documentation?

When using an unfamiliar interface for the first time, you need a clear and detailed functional manual to help understand how the interface works. This is the role of API documentation. API documentation is a specification that describes how an application programming interface (API) works and provides all the information required to use the API.

Just as a menu can tell customers what dishes are available in a restaurant, API documentation can tell developers which interfaces can be called. The detailed description on the menu allows customers to understand the characteristics and methods of each dish, and API documentation also provides detailed descriptions and examples, allowing developers to understand how to call the interface and how to handle the data returned by the interface.

In addition, the menu also provides services such as taste adjustment and special requests, and API documentation also provides various parameter settings, error code explanations, and other services. Customers do not need to know how each dish is prepared to enjoy the service experience.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

As the metaphor mentioned earlier, the difference between an API and API documentation is like the difference between cuisine and a recipe book. An API interface defines the way software components interact, while API documentation describes and explains the interface, providing more detailed information about the interface, including how to use the API, how to handle errors, and how to call examples.

API documentation also provides a reference that allows developers to better understand how the API works and to use the API more efficiently when developing applications.

How to Quickly Generate Documentation While Managing an API?

Apidog is an API - integrated collaboration platform. Once the API documentation is defined in Apidog, API debugging, API Mock, and API automated testing can be used directly without redefinition. API documentation and API development debugging use the same tool, and API debugging can ensure that it is consistent with the API documentation definition after completion. Efficient, timely, and accurate!