An API is only as good as its documentation. Everyone knows that. But not everyone knows how much work goes into making (and then keeping) documentation good. From the dev and marketing teams to the data scientists and UX specialists (not to mention the insightful user feedback we’ve been receiving since day one), we need all hands on deck to build, deliver and maintain good docs.
As some of our users have pointed out, our API documentation has needed a revamp for some time now. Because of Quandl’s constantly growing functionality and tools, we kept adding to our docs piecemeal — and ended up with a labyrinthine structure that was difficult to navigate. So we set out to improve the clarity and user experience by consolidating our documentation into a streamlined hub.
Here are just a few of the improvements you’ll find in the latest iteration of our API docs:
- The one-size-fits-all architecture has been replaced with a more readable two-column structure.
- We’ve taken great pains to clarify the difference between our two different kinds of databases: tables and time-series.
- Under the tables and time-series sections, there is now a section called “Composition of a Call” that breaks down the different components of an API call.
- Each of our major analysis tools (R, Python, Excel) now have their own discrete section. This means users only have to read about the tool they’re interested in.
- Parameters and filters are now easily discoverable.
- Previously, we had elements of our docs on GitHub, YouTube, Quandl’s documentation portal and a help center. All of our API docs — including videos, URL breakdowns and example calls — are now housed in one central hub!
And this is just the beginning. We are moving onto the documentation for our individual databases next. It’s a huge undertaking but we think it’s worth it. Moving forward, every database page will have a similar format, where data type, date updated, tickers, exchanges, frequency, history and access are all documented consistently.
It’s an exciting time at Quandl. We just launched our new search and browse experience; together with our new docs, we continue in our quest to deliver the best data discovery and consumption experiences in the world.