Reading and Using API Documentation




Effective programming involves being able to navigate API documentation for various packages and classes, in order to identify an appropriate class/method/constructor to solve the problem at hand. This activity focuses on reading Java's API documentation to learn about classes that are unfamiliar to the student. It contains questions that can only be answered by digging around in the documentation. As they navigate the documentation, students will write short bits of code that demonstrate their understanding of that documentation.

Many of the code-writing questions depend on using the Dr. Java to type out and test code. Dr. Java's "Interactions Pane" allows quick testing of individual lines of code, without the need to write a class and method to test that code.

Dr. Java is freely available from http://drjava.org. Regardless of the IDE you prefer to use in your class, Dr. Java is easy to use, if only for this assignment.


Norm Krumpe


Navigating API documentation

Assignment Duration


Communication Skill


Technical Skill


Workplace Scenario

The software you will write almost always depends on making use of packages, classes, and methods that were developed by other programmers. In order to use software written by others, it is necessary to be able to navigate and understand the documentation for that software.

In this assignment, you will navigate the Java API Documentation, and use it to learn about Java packages and classes you probably haven't seen before. You will read about classes and methods, and then write short pieces of Java code that use those classes and methods.

After completing this activity, you should be able to:

• Navigate through and read parts of Java's API documentation to find descriptions and specifications of classes, methods, and constructors.

• Solve small programming problems by using new classes, methods, and constructors that you learn about in the Java API documentation

Team Size




Norm Krumpe, “Reading and Using API Documentation,” Incorporating Communication Outcomes into the Computer Science Curriculum, accessed September 25, 2017, http://cs-comm.lib.muohio.edu/items/show/67.


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