I'm writing to you because I think we should seriously consider
generating the API reference at least partially from the code itself,
rather than continuing to maintain a separate set of documents that has
no relationship with the code.
No-one can argue that it's an enormous amount of work to maintain an API
reference. Despite our best efforts, our API reference is incomplete and
inaccurate - you need only check the bug list to know this.
The move to swagger will help some of this, but it's not enough. Even
with new tooling, we are still stuck in a world of manual updates and
effort - spending a large amount of time converting a python
method/class definition into another format.
We do add great value in the descriptions of parameters, groupings and
overall display of the information. Diane is simply amazing here. So,
wouldn't it be great if we could focus just on that, without needing to
worry about changing this python docstring:
Move your app forward with the Uber API
into this swagger description:
description: Move your app forward with the Uber API
and instead fix up the string itself ?
The move-to-swagger spec at the moment says: "We don't really want
autogenerated API documentation, because then how do you know if the
code is correct?". Which is really quite odd - because looking at the
code is exactly what developers, SDK makers and users are doing right
now when confronted with our incomplete, inaccurate documentation :) The
code is what defines the API - it's what actually processes the requests
and responses. If there's a problem where the implementation of that
processing is incorrect - we fix that in the code, not by telling users
something completely different in a document :)
We may yet get to the point where OpenStack APIs are
designed-in-document first, then implemented, but we're far from that at
the moment and have much more pressing problems to solve.
There are a number of python integrations that swagger supports.
Essentially, what these would allow us to do is use portions of the code
to generate swagger specs. This means that our documentation would
always be complete and accurate to what users actually experience when
they interact with OpenStack APIs.
The automation of option tables in the configuration reference is a good
parallel here. We used to have very incomplete and often outdated
configuration tables. After the automation, literally hundreds of bugs
have been solved with very little human intervention. The problem just
doesn't exist anymore, and we've clawed back some of our precious resources.
In the config-ref there are two types of auto-magic: non-swift, where
all text lives in the code and updates should be done there; and swift,
where the option name comes from the code, but the descriptive text must
be manually entered - overwriting a default label of "No help text
available for this option".
Applying that to API documents, I think it would be amazing to try the
former: it basically means that developers write their own API
documentation, happily, in the code, in a format they are familiar with.
We can take that and generate swagger for the API-ref and display it
However, that might not be possible, or might be too much work for a
single release. So, the second option is still a very good one - we use
automation to extract some information (eg it could be just class
titles, doc strings, parameter names) to generate swagger specs with the
placeholder text that we-as-the-docs-team can fill in with our best
efforts - which are excellent, since we're the pros at strings :)
The important thing is that this should be done continuously, as with
the config-ref, to ensure accuracy and completeness. Just looking at the
first 75 bugs in api-site, this approach would solve almost all of
them. This isn't something you can say about simply switching formats ;)
Anyway, thank you if you've managed to get to this point. I think we
have a great opportunity here to make a very significant change to the
way we do API documentation, and free up our previous docs resources to
really focus on the things we do best, rather than spending a lot of
time changing one arcane syntax into another :)
 https://github.com/swagger-api/swagger-spec#python , I found there's
a worked example showing the output of the swagger UI for
 Kinda once a milestone is how we're doing it with config-ref at the
moment, but this could in theory be fully automated
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: [Blueprint autogenerate-api-reference] Autogenerate API Reference
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:14:41 -0000
From: Anne Gentle firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply-To: Anne Gentle email@example.com
Blueprint changed by Anne Gentle:
Whiteboard set to:
We don't really want autogenerated API documentation, because then how
do you know if the code is correct? How can a quality engineer or SDK
dev trust the output? Autogeneration is fine for the first set of docs
but after that need to be treated as the "contract" for SDK developers
Autogenerate API Reference
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