What's new in OpenAPI Specification 3 - Parameters

Francesco Guardiani bio photo By Francesco Guardiani

OpenAPI 3 Parameter Object it’s totally different from old OpenAPI 2. It gives the power to describe complex parameters, using the power of Schema object. I will introduce to you this breaking changes

No more form and body parameters

One of the major changes is that body parameters (forms, json, …) are moved to a new object called RequestBody. So now Parameter supports only request parameters in:

  • header
  • query
  • path
  • and the new one cookie

schema is better than type

In OpenAPI 2 a parameter is defined as:

parameters:
  - name: smile
    in: query
    type: string
    format: ([;:]-*([()\[\]])\2*) # Smile regex

In OpenAPI 3 you can find the same parameter as:

parameters:
  - name: smile
    in: query
    schema:
      type: string
      format: ([;:]-*([()\[\]])\2*) # Smile regex

The major difference is that now you have to define a schema for every single parameter, even the most simple.

It seems annoying, but It gives some interesting opportunities. For example: A model identifier has a particular regular expression (format) that describes it and you want to write CRUD methods for this model. This is what you have to do in OpenAPI 2:

# get path
parameters:
  - name: id
    in: query
    schema:
      type: string
      format: ^[a-z]{3}[0-9]{10}$
# delete path
parameters:
  - name: id
    in: query
    schema:
      type: string
      format: ^[a-z]{3}[0-9]{10}$
# And so on

Now with OpenAPI 3 you can define this single string as a schema and reference to it where you want:

# define your identifier schema in components/schema
components:
  schemas:
    my_model_identifier:
      type: string
      format: ^[a-z]{3}[0-9]{10}$

# get path
parameters:
  - name: id
    in: query
    schema:
      $ref: '#/components/schemas/my_model_identifier'
# delete path
parameters:
  - name: id
    in: query
    schema:
      $ref: '#/components/schemas/my_model_identifier'
# And so on

You can also reuse it to define complete model:

components:
  schemas:
    my_model_identifier:
      type: string
      format: ^[a-z]{3}[0-9]{10}$
    my_model:
      type: object
      parameters:
        id:
          $ref: '#/components/schemas/my_model_identifier'
        other_field:
          type: string

Objects inside path/query/header parameters

This is tricky, but actually it’s possible. With Schema object support you can define object as query, header, cookie, path parameter. This is an example:

parameters:
  - name: parameter
    in: query
    schema:
      type: object
      properties:
        a:
          type: integer
        b:
          type: string
      required:
        - a
        - b

I will explain later how to submit this type of requests

One interesting usage is when you have multi-dimensional key for a model, for example a geolocation model.

Serialization style changes

style is the new name of collectionFormat field. But It isn’t only a name change. Also style is supported by another field: exploded. This is the comparison table with OpenAPI 2

style explode OpenAPI 2 collectionFormat
matrix false not supported
matrix true not supported
label false not supported
label true not supported
form false csv
form true multi
simple false csv
simple true csv (not for object)
spaceDelimited false ssv
pipeDelimited false pipes
deepObject true not supported

For more informations about how to use this two new fields, check out this table.

Complex parameters with content

If you think schema isn’t enough, check out content field. I will explain this further when I will cover RequestBody

Tips to create a good parameter object in OpenAPI 3

  • Try to keep parameters as simple as possible. Avoid as much as possible objects and arrays, They create only a lot of headaches
  • Use query parameters if you need to pass arrays to operation and use form style
  • Pass objects to an operation with RequestBody, or split it in different primitive parameters.
  • Take as much as possible advantage of schema inside Parameter object. In particular use it to define object identifiers