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Should I use tools that support the OpenAPI Specification?

Thinking about applying the OpenAPI Specification to API development? Analyze OpenAPI's automation and standardization benefits and see if it will ease your API design difficulties.

OpenAPI is an extensible, language-agnostic specification developers use to create RESTful web services and APIs....

The OpenAPI initiative, formerly known as the Swagger Specification, is now a Linux Foundation open source project, and its current version is 3.0.2.

The choice of whether or not to use OpenAPI Specification standards depends on the goals of the business and its application integration intentions. When software developers create an API, part of the challenge is to figure out the best ways to write and expose it. That challenge is rarely easy, especially when outside integrators struggle to work with different APIs. Software developers need to focus on users' basic API needs, or else they'll end up with poorly designed APIs that are difficult to use and offer poor documentation. Ultimately, the integration aspirations of your organization's software product may fail if the APIs are too difficult for outside users to employ.

Standardization is one key way to ease the difficulties of API design. The OpenAPI Specification provides an established roadmap to visualize, describe, produce and consume popular REST APIs. Usefully, OpenAPI also supports the JSON and YAML formats. Adopting OpenAPI can help your team build APIs that are simply easier for users to understand and adopt for their own projects.

Another advantage of adopting the OpenAPI Specification is that developers have access to a wide variety of tooling to help generate code, documentation and test cases that follow the standard. The OpenAPI project maintains a list of tools that currently support OpenAPI. However, even when tool sets are not OpenAPI-compliant, developers can still adhere to the standard while using other tool sets. Only OpenAPI's automated capabilities, such as code or documentation generation, are absent in compliant tools.

This was last published in November 2018

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