There are a few excellent options to choose from, each with individual strengths and features. Whatever your budget, I’d say that there’s no such thing as a perfect OAS3 (Open API 3 specification) documentation tool. You need to decide what’s most important to you and accept the compromises you must make.
Note that I’m only considering Open API 3 tools here so will not cover Open API 2 tools like Dapperdox and Apiary.
|Tool||OAS editor||Try it out||Layout||Self-host or custom domain?||Automated code outputs||Expandable schemas?||Git integration||Collaborative?|
|ReadMe||No||Yes||Three-column||Neither||5||No||OAS, markdown and digital file synchronisation||Up to 5 people|
|Speca||Yes||No||Three-column||Custom domain (not on the free tier)||0||Yes||OAS synchronisation||Not on the free tier|
|Swagger UI||Yes||Yes||One column, expandable||Self-host||1||Yes||No||No|
|SwaggerHub||Yes||Yes||One column, expandable||Either (not on the free tier)||1||Yes||OAS synchronisation||Not on the free tier|
- OAS editor - includes its own Open API editing tool
- Try it out - allows users to test API calls within the tool?
- Layout - does this adopt the Stripe API style three-column layout or the Swagger style one column expandable layout
- Self-host or custom domain? - can you deploy this on your servers (Self-host) or point the hosted service to your domain (Custom domain)
- Automated code outputs - how many types of output can the tool generate for API requests. Note that this does not include manually-generated code injected into the Open API specification (such as Redoc’s, admittedly excellent, x-codeSamples extension)
- Expandable schemas - JSON structures can get complicated. Does the tool allow you to collapse and expand the schemas so you can see as much detail as you wish?
- Git integration - what is the nature of any integration with Git repositories
- Collaborative? - does this have features to allow more than one person to work on the same specification concurrently?
What if you are willing to ‘splash the cash’
The commercial realm often offers far more than the free options: code generation, extended documentation tools, integration with Git repositories, version control, advanced Open API editing, multi-user collaboration, mocking servers and so on. The standouts for me being:
- Stoplight - for its unparalleled Open API editor and intelligent integration with Git repositories
- SwaggerHub - for its integrated tooling (SmartBear/SwaggerHub is Open API central, after all)
- ReadMe - for its complete, consistent and attractive documentation suite.
|Tool||OAS editor||Try it out||Layout||Cost (from)||Self-host or custom domain?||Automated code outputs||Expandable schemas?||Git integration||Collaborative||Other documentation tools?|
|Apimatic||Yes||Yes||Three-column||$9.90/month||Either (not at $9.90 tier)||11||Yes||Can generate SDKs||Yes||Comprehensive|
|ReadMe||No||Yes||Three-column||Free (for OSS)||Custom domain (not on the free tier)||5||No||OAS, markdown and digital file synchonisation||Yes||Comprehensive|
|Redocly||No||Yes||Three-column||$69/month||Custom domain (not at $69 tier)||0||Yes||OAS, markdown and digital file synchronisation||Yes||Some|
|Speca||Yes||No||Three-column||Free||Custom domain (not on the free tier)||0||Yes||OAS synchronisation||Not on free tier||None|
|Stoplight||Yes||Yes||Three-column||$99/month||Custom domain||33||Yes||OAS, markdown and digital file synchonisation||Yes||Some|
|SwaggerHub||Yes||Yes||One column, expandable||Free||Either (not on the free tier)||1||Yes||OAS synchronisation||Not on the free tier||None|
As above, plus:
- Cost (from) - this is the cost for at least one published API. Quite a few of these commercial tools will let you develop an Open API specification for free but you need to pay if you want to allow public access to it
- Other documentation tools - this article is specifically looking at these systems as documentation tools. Outside of the Open API specification does the system provide other documentation tools?