During this years meta::hack 3, I was extremely fortunate to work with Joel Berger on integrating/documenting OpenAPI with the MetaCPAN API via Mojolicious.

What is it?

OpenAPI is a specification for designing, documenting, validating and driving your RESTful API. It can be used to provide documentation to an existing API, or when creating a new one.

The OpenAPI Specification originated as the Swagger specification and was renamed to separate the API description format (OpenAPI) from the open source tooling (Swagger). The specification moved into a new GitHub repository, but did not change.

In the case of the MetaCPAN API, we set out to provide documentation to the existing API, but quickly moved into supporting validation to API calls as well.

The tools

OpenAPI has many tools available to help, including discovery tools that will assist in writing the specification. We chose to write the definition by hand (in vim of course) and use tools to generate the documentation and to integrate the specification into MetaCPAN.

  • ReDoc — OpenAPI/Swagger-generated API Reference Documentation

ReDoc creates an interactive page providing documentation and examples based on the details provided in the OpenAPI specification file. ReDoc includes a HTML template to be served as a static file for customizing how the documentation is displayed.

Reads the OpenAPI specification file and adds the appropriate routes and validations for your Mojolicious based application.

Integrated into the Mojolicious::Plugin::OpenAPI module, provides the input and output validation, as well as providing validation for the specification file itself.

Getting Started

The following strategy was used when implementing the MetaCPAN OpenAPI specification.

The OpenAPI Specification File

With support for multiline attribute values making it much easier to read and write with less formatting, we chose YAML. JSON is also supported.

# Define the version of the OpenAPI spec to use. Version 2.0 still uses
# swagger as the key
swagger: "2.0"
# general information about the API
  version: "1.0.0"
  title: "MetaCPAN API"
# common path shared throughout the API
basePath: "/v1"

Defining an Endpoint

Each of the paths available to the API are defined within the paths object.

  # The path to the endpoint
    # The HTTP method that the endpoint accepts
      # A unique identifier for the method
      operationId: search_web
      # This attribute points to the name of the class in the appliction
      # and the method to call separated by `#`
      x-mojo-to: Search#web
      # A description of the API Endpoint
      summary: Perform API search in the same fashion as the Web UI

Defining Parameters

Each method can define its own parameters.

# The parameters that the HTTP method accepts
  # The name of the parameter
  - name: q
    # The location to parse the parameter from
    in: query
    # Document what the parameter is. This example uses the YAML HEREDOC
    # syntax to make the description easier to read and write.
    description: |
      The query search term. If the search term contains a term with the
      tags `dist:` or `module:` results will be in expanded form, otherwise
      collapsed form.

      See also `collapsed`
    # The type of the value that the API accepts
    type: string
    # Define the attribute as required
    required: true
  # The rest of the parameters that the API accepts
  - name: from
    in: query
    description: The offset to use in the result set
    type: integer
    # If the API applies a default to an attribute if it isn't specified.
    # Let the us know what it is.
    default: 0
  - name: size
    in: query
    description: Number of results per page
    type: integer
    default: 20
  - name: collapsed
    in: query
    description: |
        Force a collapsed even when searching for a particular
        distribution or module name.
    type: boolean

Defining the Response

The OpenAPI specification allows you to define each response to a method call, this includes both specific and generic error handling. Definitions are defined per HTTP status code.

  # HTTP 200 response
    description: Search response
    # The schema defines what the result will look like
      type: object
          type: integer
          type: number
          type: boolean
          title: Results
          type: array
            # While items can be further broken into properties per item,
            # type `object` is a catch all
            type: object

Advanced Definitions

Reusing definitions through references

The specification allows for reuse by means of JSON references. The $ref attribute is a relative pointer to the file and section (again separated by #) to include at the indicated point.

          title: Results
          type: array
            $ref: "../definitions/results.yml#/search_result_items"

The v2.0 specification does have restrictions on where references can be use, which does cause repetition in the specification file. The v3.0 specification has corrected these issues, and also allows for http references.

Might be null

There are times that a property of an object might be null. In the MetaCPAN API the favourite count may either be an integer representing how many people have favourited the distribution, or null. Using a list for the property type allows the property to contain both.

    - "integer"
    - "null"

The MetaCPAN Specification

The entire specification doesn’t need to be complete in order to get OpenAPI up and running. When documenting an existing API, it’s possible to with one portion of the API. With MetaCPAN we started with the search endpoints.

The spec file can be viewed here and the API documentation here

Further Reading

The OpenAPI Specification repository includes full documentation and many examples of varying levels of details.

The OpenAPI Map is an interactive site to aid in working with the OpenAPI Specification.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Tagged in : advent, development, openapi, api

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Shawn Sorichetti

Shawn is a long time Perl developer, with a tendency toward infrastructure, tooling, databases and devops.