Adding Descriptions, Examples, and Annotations to API Contracts

API contracts are crucial for documenting and properly defining the functionality and behavior of an API. They serve as a communication tool between developers and users, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding the expected inputs, outputs, and overall behavior of the API endpoints. However, simply stating the input and output data types is not enough. To truly enhance the readability and understandability of an API contract, it is essential to incorporate descriptions, examples, and annotations.


Descriptions allow developers to provide detailed explanations of each endpoint, parameter, response, and other elements of the API contract. These explanations can help users understand the purpose, expected values, constraints, and any other relevant information about each element. By adding well-written descriptions, API contracts become self-explanatory and greatly aid in the development process.

When using Swagger to define API contracts, descriptions can be added using the description field. For example, to describe a parameter named userId in a GET request, you can use the following snippet:

  - name: userId
    in: query
    description: Unique identifier of the user
    required: true
      type: string

In this snippet, the description field provides a clear explanation of what the userId parameter is and its intended purpose.


Examples play a vital role in API contract documentation, as they provide practical demonstrations of how to use and interact with the API endpoints. Including examples helps users to understand the expected request payloads, responses, and error messages, making it easier for them to integrate and work with the API.

Swagger supports adding examples using the example field. Let's consider an example where we want to demonstrate the expected request payload for creating a new user with a POST request:

      summary: Create a new user
              type: object
                  type: string
                  type: string
                - name
                - email
              name: John Doe

In this example, the example field within the requestBody section provides a clear representation of the expected payload for creating a new user.


Annotations allow developers to add extra metadata and contextual information to API contracts. They enable the inclusion of additional details, such as deprecation warnings, security requirements, and other important notes that add value to the API documentation. Swagger supports various annotations that can be used to enhance the API contract.

For instance, let's say we want to annotate a specific endpoint as deprecated. We can achieve this using the deprecated field within the endpoint definition:

      summary: Retrieve a user by ID
      deprecated: true
        - name: userId
          in: path
          description: ID of the user
          required: true
            type: integer
            format: int64

In this example, the deprecated: true annotation provides a clear indication that this endpoint is no longer recommended and should be avoided in favor of alternative or updated endpoints.


Incorporating descriptions, examples, and annotations into API contracts significantly improves the readability, understandability, and usage of APIs. Descriptions help users grasp the purpose and requirements of different elements within the API, examples provide practical demonstrations of API usage, and annotations offer additional context and metadata. By utilizing Swagger's capabilities, developers can create comprehensive and well-documented API contracts that facilitate successful integration and user satisfaction.

noob to master © copyleft