OpenStack API documentation

OpenStack API documentation

Source files for

The web site is intended for application developers using the OpenStack APIs to build upon. It contains links to multiple SDKs for specific programming languages, API references, and API Guides.

For existing APIs, the reference information comes from RST and YAML source files. The RST and YAML files get stored in your project repository in an api-ref directory. The nova project has an example you can follow, including tox jobs for running tox -e api-ref within the api-ref directory to generate the documents.

The RST conceptual and how-to files are stored in each project’s doc/source/api-guide directory. These are built to locations based on the service name, such as the Compute API Guide.

You may embed annotations in your source code if you want to generate the reference information. Here is an example patch from the nova project. Because no project has complete annotations, there are no build jobs for this scenario.

Standards for API reference in OpenStack

The API working group has API documentation guidelines that all teams providing a REST API service in OpenStack strive to follow. This document tells you what and how much to write. If you follow the suggested outline, your API guide will be accurate and complete.

If your project does not have any documentation, you can find a suggested outline in the API documentation guidelines. The Compute project has examples to follow:

For service names, you must adhere to the official name for the service as indicated in the governance repository in the reference/projects.yaml file. These names are used in the URL for the documentation by stating the target directory for the content in the api-ref-jobs: indicator. If your service does not have a name indicated in the governance repo, please ask your PTL or a Technical Committee member how to proceed.

Versions and releases for API reference information

All API reference jobs publish from master as soon as a change lands in the respective project repository. This publishing practice means that you must write inline information when an API has a change release-to-release. Inline text descriptions are the only way to convey the corresponding release information to the documentation consumer.

There are different types of versions related to OpenStack services that provide an API. For example, a version of a service is separate from the version of an API provided by that service. Also, microversions are small, documented changes to an individual API method, and are only applicable to some OpenStack APIs, as indicated with (microversions) on the API Quick Start page.

Example representations of versions for the OpenStack Compute service:

  • Header version: OpenStack-API-Version: compute 2.1
  • Service version (Release name): 15.0 (Newton)
  • URI version:
  • MIME type version: application/vnd.openstack.compute.v2.1+json
  • Microversion: 2.6

Each project that follows the cycle-with-milestones release model has stable branches that contain a point-in-time set of API reference content. If needed, refer to that source repository’s content for release comparisons for API reference information.

How to document your OpenStack API service

Use these instructions if you have no documentation currently, or want to update it to match OpenStack standards.

The basic steps are:

  1. Create an api-ref/source directory in your project repository.

  2. Create a for the project, similar to the nova example. In it, include the html theme, openstackdocstheme, use the os-api-ref Sphinx extension, and also point the bug reporting link to your project’s repo:

    extensions = [
    # The prefix and repo name like
    repository_name = 'openstack/glance'
    # Set Launchpad bug tag, default is empty
    bug_tag = ''
    # The launchpad project name like
    bug_project = 'glance'
    html_theme = 'openstackdocs'
    html_theme_options = {
        "sidebar_mode": "toc",
    # Must set this variable to include year, month, day, hours, and minutes.
    html_last_updated_fmt = '%Y-%m-%d %H:%M'
  3. Update the test-requirements.txt file for the project with a line for the os-api-ref Sphinx extension:

    os-api-ref>=1.0.0 # Apache-2.0
  4. Create RST files for each operation.

  5. In the RST file, use .. rest_method:: for each operation.

    Example: .. rest_method:: GET /v2.1/{tenant_id}/flavors

  6. In the RST file, add requests and responses that point to a parameters.yaml file:

    .. rest_parameters:: parameters.yaml
       - tenant_id: tenant_id

    Here is an example entry in parameters.yaml:

      description: |
        The UUID of the administrative project.
      in: path
      required: true
      type: string
  7. Create sample JSON requests and responses and store in a directory, and point to those in your RST files. As an example:

    .. literalinclude:: samples/os-evacuate/server-evacuate-resp.json
       :language: javascript
  8. Update the project’s tox.ini file to include a configuration for building the API reference locally with these lines:

    # This environment is called from CI scripts to test and publish
    # the API Ref to
    commands =
    rm -rf api-ref/build
    sphinx-build -W -b html -d api-ref/build/doctrees api-ref/source api-ref/build/html
  9. Test the tox.ini changes by running this tox command:

    $ tox -e api-ref
  10. Create a build job similar to the nova job for your project. Examples: and

After the source files and build jobs exist, the docs are built to

If your document is completely new, you need to add links to it from the API landing page and the OpenStack Governance reference document, projects.yaml.

To add a link to the project’s API docs to the API landing page, patch the index.rst file stored in the openstack/api-site repository.

To ensure the openstack/governance repository has the correct link to your API documentation, patch the reference/projects.yaml file in the openstack/governance repository.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Except where otherwise noted, this document is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. See all OpenStack Legal Documents.