Link Search Menu Expand Document

Content of Message Bodies

The previous page showed how to define API endpoints but it didn’t explain how to describe the content of the responses through the content field. This page clarifies this important field, which can also be used to describe queries, as shown in the Parameters page.

The content Field

This field can be found both in Response Objects and Request Body Objects. It is a map pairing standard RFC6838 Media Types with OpenAPI Media Type Objects.

The Response Object is explained in the API Endpoints page.
The Request Body Object is explained in the Parameters and Payload of an Operation page.

This allows returning content (or accepting content) in different formats, each one with a different structure described by the Media Type Object. Wildcards are accepted for the media types, with the more specific ones taking precedence over the generic ones.

content:
  application/json:
    ...
  text/html:
    ...
  text/*:
    ...

The Media Type Object

The Media Type Object describes the structure of the content and provides examples for documentation and mocking purposes (examples are dealt with in the Documentation page).

The structure is described in the schema field explained next.

content:
  application/json:
    schema:
      ...

The Schema Object

The Schema Object defines a data type which can be a primitive (integer, string, …), an array or an object depending on its type field.

type is a string and its possible values are: number, string, boolean, array and object. Depending on the selected type a number of other fields are available to further specify the data format.

For example, for string types the length of the string can be limited with minLength and maxLength. Similarly, integer types, accept minimum and maximum values. No matter the type, if the amount of options for the data is limited to a certain set, it can be specified with the enum array. All these properties are listed in the Schema Object specification.

Example integer with limited range:

content:
  application/json:
    schema:
      type: integer
      minimum: 1
      maximum: 100

Example string with only three valid options:

content:
  application/json:
    schema:
      type: string
      enum:
      - Alice
      - Bob
      - Carl

Array types must have an items field, which is a Schema Object itself, and defines the type for each element of the array. Additionally, the size of the array can be limited with minItems and maxItems.

content:
  application/json:
    schema:
      type: array
      minItems: 1
      maxItems: 10
      items:
        type: integer

Finally, object types must have a properties field listing the properties of the object. This field is a map pairing property names with a Schema Object defining their type. This allows building data types as complex as required.

Here’s an example defining an object with two fields: a productName string and a productPrice number:

content:
  application/json:
    schema:
      type: object
      properties:
        productName:
          type: string
        productPrice:
          type: number

Tic Tac Toe Example

The Tic Tac Toe sample API given so far has one endpoint with one unspecified response. The snippet below adds the description of this content:

openapi: 3.1.0
info:
  title: Tic Tac Toe
  description: |
    This API allows writing down marks on a Tic Tac Toe board
    and requesting the state of the board or of individual squares.
  version: 1.0.0
paths:
  # Whole board operations
  /board:
    get:
      summary: Get the whole board
      description: Retrieves the current state of the board and the winner.
      responses:
        "200":
          description: "OK"
          content:
            application/json:
              schema:
                type: object
                properties:
                    winner:
                      type: string
                      enum: [".", "X", "O"]
                      description: |
                        Winner of the game. `.` means nobody has won yet.
                    board:
                      type: array
                      maxItems: 3
                      minItems: 3
                      items:
                          type: array
                          maxItems: 3
                          minItems: 3
                          items:
                            type: string
                            enum: [".", "X", "O"]
                            description: |
                              Possible values for a board square.
                              `.` means empty square.
  ...

The response contains an object is JSON format with two fields:

  • winner is a string with only three possible values: ., X and O.
  • board is a 3-element array where each item is another 3-element array, effectively building a 3x3 square matrix. Each element in the matrix is a string with only three possible values: ., X and O.

This document is starting to grow too big and complex. The Reusing Descriptions page explains how to name sections of an OpenAPI document in order to reuse them (like the strings with three options above, which appear twice).

Summary

This page has shown how to describe the content of the body of a response or query. More precisely:

The next page explains how to define the parameters that an endpoint accepts.


Copyright © OpenAPI Initiative