What is the "contact" field in OpenAPI?

What is the “contact” field in OpenAPI? #

In the realm of building and documenting APIs, OpenAPI has become a widely adopted specification for defining RESTful APIs in a standardized format. This specification not only assists in the development process but also plays a critical role in enhancing the discoverability, usability, and maintainability of the APIs. Among the various fields and components of an OpenAPI document, the contact field holds particular significance, especially from a consumer and support standpoint.

This article delves deeply into the contact field, exploring what it is, why it is essential, and how to correctly implement it within an OpenAPI specification.

What Is OpenAPI? #

Before diving into the contact field, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what OpenAPI is. OpenAPI Specification (OAS) is a standard for defining RESTful APIs. It provides a way to describe the entire API, including endpoints, request parameters, responses, authentication methods, and other essential aspects.

Initially known as the Swagger Specification, OpenAPI was acquired by the Linux Foundation in 2015 and is now overseen by the OpenAPI Initiative (OAI) OpenAPI Initiative. The specification allows both humans and machines to understand the capabilities of a web service without access to its source code.

The primary aims of OpenAPI are:

  • Documentation: To generate comprehensive and maintainable documentation.
  • Development: To facilitate the creation of APIs with a contract-first approach.
  • Testing: To enable automated testing against the defined API.

The contact Field: An Overview #

The contact field is an optional element within the OpenAPI specification used to provide contact information for the API’s maintainers. This field resides inside the Info Object, which contains metadata about the API. Here’s an example in YAML format:

openapi: 3.0.0
  title: Sample API
  description: This is a sample API
  version: 1.0.0
    name: API Support
    url: http://www.example.com/support
    email: support@example.com

Components of the contact Field #

The contact field itself is a Contact Object that can contain the following properties:

  • name: The identifying name of the contact person or organization.
  • url: The URL pointing to the website of the contact person or organization.
  • email: The email address of the contact person or organization.

Although the contact field is optional, populating it can significantly enhance the usability and supportability of your API.

Why Is the contact Field Important? #

Enhancing User Trust and Confidence #

When users are evaluating whether to integrate with an API, they’re often looking for signs of reliability and support. A well-populated contact field can instill confidence by reassuring users that they have a means to reach out for help or to provide feedback.

Facilitating Customer Support #

APIs are intricate systems, and developers integrating your API may encounter challenges or issues. By including detailed contact information, you make it easier for them to reach out for support, thus potentially reducing their frustration and improving their overall experience. For example, if they encounter an undocumented response code, knowing whom to contact can save significant time and effort.

Enabling Feedback Loops #

User feedback is invaluable for the continuous improvement of your API. When developers know how to reach you, they can provide valuable insights and suggestions that you might not have considered. This, in turn, can drive better product development and increased user satisfaction.

Streamlining Communication #

In situations where an API undergoes breaking changes or where critical updates are rolled out, having a contact point allows you to quickly disseminate information to your user base. This can be particularly useful for coordinating with developers during versioning and deprecation cycles.

How to Implement the contact Field #

Best Practices #

  • Be Comprehensive: Populate all available properties (name, url, email) of the contact field to provide multiple avenues for contact.
  • Be Accurate: Ensure that the details provided are up-to-date and monitored regularly.
  • Be Specific: If possible, provide a contact that is specific to the API, rather than a general company contact. This helps in routing the queries more efficiently.

Example in YAML #

Here’s a more comprehensive example of an OpenAPI document with a contact field:

openapi: 3.0.0
  title: Sample API
  description: This is a sample API.
  termsOfService: http://example.com/terms/
    name: API Support Team
    url: http://support.example.com
    email: api-support@example.com
    name: Apache 2.0
    url: http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html
  version: 1.0.1
  - url: https://api.example.com/v1
    description: Main (production) server
      summary: Retrieves a list of items
          description: A list of items
                type: array
                  type: object
                      type: string
                      type: string
                      type: number

Example in JSON #

Here’s the same example in JSON format:

  "openapi": "3.0.0",
  "info": {
    "title": "Sample API",
    "description": "This is a sample API.",
    "termsOfService": "http://example.com/terms/",
    "contact": {
      "name": "API Support Team",
      "url": "http://support.example.com",
      "email": "api-support@example.com"
    "license": {
      "name": "Apache 2.0",
      "url": "http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html"
    "version": "1.0.1"
  "servers": [
      "url": "https://api.example.com/v1",
      "description": "Main (production) server"
  "paths": {
    "/items": {
      "get": {
        "summary": "Retrieves a list of items",
        "responses": {
          "200": {
            "description": "A list of items",
            "content": {
              "application/json": {
                "schema": {
                  "type": "array",
                  "items": {
                    "type": "object",
                    "properties": {
                      "id": {
                        "type": "string"
                      "name": {
                        "type": "string"
                      "price": {
                        "type": "number"

Examples from the Industry #

Google APIs #

Google offers extensive documentation and support for its APIs, including detailed contact information. This level of detail ensures developers have the resources they need to resolve issues and gather more context, enhancing their overall experience.

Stripe API #

The Stripe API documentation sets an excellent example with clear contact points for support and additional resources. This makes it easier for developers to find the help they need efficiently.

GitHub API #

Similarly, the GitHub API offers detailed documentation along with clear support channels, enabling developers to navigate the complexities of GitHub’s extensive API offerings effectively.

Conclusion #

The contact field in OpenAPI, though optional, serves as a critical touchpoint for developer support, feedback, and communication. By diligently populating this field, organizations can significantly improve the developer experience, foster trust, and streamline the support process. As we have explored, an effectively implemented contact field provides a multitude of benefits, from enhancing user confidence to facilitating quicker issue resolution.

It’s a small addition that can have a substantial impact on the successful adoption and long-term viability of your API. Therefore, when crafting your next OpenAPI specification, don’t overlook the significance of the contact field.

For more details on the OpenAPI specification, you can visit the official OpenAPI Initiative website.

This website is not affiliated with the OpenAPI Initiative.