ESAPI Documentation

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This page documents our current thoughts on the various documents we need to produce for the ESAPI project, and the audience, purpose, and high level outline of each document.

Documentation Plan

Proposed Documents

The following is the set of documentation that is proposed for ESAPI. This is still a work in progress.

Smaller Documents

ESAPI Executive Overview

Audience: Executives
Purpose: To provide executives with an understanding of:
  • What ESAPI is? Goals.
  • Why an ESAPI is necessary. (App Sec is important/why/standardization)
  • The benefits of using an ESAPI? (Cost, ROI)
  • The current status of ESAPI? (Maturity, Stability, Licensing, Support)
  • Who created it, where it came from, credibility, who is using it?
  • How to adopt an ESAPI?

Outline: (See Purpose)

FAQ (For non-users)

Audience: Potential users of ESAPI
Purpose: To provide 'quick' hit, information about ESAPI Topics: Summary of main points in the Executive Overview

FAQ (For people using ESAPI)

Audience (Technical people using ESAPI)
Purpose: To provide 'quick' hit information about how to use ESAPI, and add to or integrate ESAPI with existing security controls.


  • How to use it the first time
  • Common usage issues
  • Common extension questions
  • Performance

Larger Documents

Getting Started Guide

Audience: Developers new to ESAPI
Purpose: Explain to these developers how to start immediately using ESAPI

Outline: (20 pages or less)

  • Overview of ESAPI
  • How to download, install, get dependencies
  • Where is all the documentation/javadoc
  • Where/what is Swingset - where are the coding examples
  • List of the top 5 quick hits you can achieve with ESAPI
  • Concrete examples of how to accomplish each of these 5 things, with problem descriptions, example problem code, and example code that addresses the problem

How to Secure an Existing Application with ESAPI

Audience: Developers
Purpose: Explain to developers how to address most of the common security problems in an existing application using ESAPI


  • Similar to previous, except it goes through all major areas where ESAPI provides controls, not just the top 5.

How to Use ESAPI in a New Application

Audience: Developers
Purpose: Provide application architecture guidance on how to build your applications in a manner that facilitates the use of ESAPI.  
Benefit: This should help make it easier to use ESAPI, make your application more secure, easier to analyze, and easier to maintain.
Assumption: This assumes that an ESAPI that works in the developers' environment is already available.


  • Architectural guidance for each control, if any, on how to take most facilitate the use of ESAPI in your application
  • e.g., use of DAOs, application organizational considerations wrt Access Control, etc.

How to Create a Custom ESAPI for Your Organization

Audience: Organizations and developers that want to use ESAPI
Purpose: How to extend or customize ESAPI for your organization or project


  • Overview of related controls, how dependent/independent they are on the rest of the API
  • For each control:
    • Expectations for 'as is' use, extension, replacement of this control
    • How to extend this control
    • How to replace this control

Goals: All of this content would be on the wiki, and PDFs of each of these 'may' be produced as well.



  • Review/Update all Javadoc to make sure its complete, accurate, and properly extends javadoc from other classes
  • Make sure all parameters are documented as well as return values

Status: This was done in the Spring of 2009 but probably deserves a refresh at this point.

Web Pages

  • Revamp the ESAPI Website (lots of details needed on this)
  • How will ESAPI be updated and released.
  • Features Roadmap
  • Where to get ESAPI source and libraries
  • How to build ESAPI from source
  • How to integrate ESAPI into your project
  • How to contribute to ESAPI

Other Documents