How do developers react to RESTful API evolution?

Shaohua Wang, Iman Keivanloo, Ying Zou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

43 Scopus citations


With the rapid adoption of REpresentational State Transfer (REST), more software organizations expose their applications as RESTful web APIs and client code developers integrate RESTful APIs into their applications. When web APIs evolve, the client code developers have to update their applications to incorporate the API changes accordingly. However client code developers often encounter challenges during the migration and API providers have little knowledge of how client code developers react to the API changes. In this paper, we investigate the changes among subsequent versions of APIs and classify the identified changes to understand how the RESTful web APIs evolve. We study the on-line discussion from developers to the API changes by analyzing the StackOverflow questions. Through an empirical study, we identify 21 change types and 7 of them are new compared with existing studies. We find that a larger portion of RESTful web API elements are changed between versions compared with Java APIs and WSDL services. Moreover, our results show that adding new methods in the new version causes more questions and views from developers. However the deleted methods draw more relevant discussions. In general, our results provide valuable insights of RESTful web API evolution and help service providers understand how their consumers react to the API changes in order to improve the practice of evolving the service APIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationService-Oriented Computing - 12th International Conference, ICSOC 2014, Proceedings
EditorsXavier Franch, Aditya K. Ghose, Grace A. Lewis, Sami Bhiri
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783662453902
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event12th International Conference on Service-Oriented Computing, ICSOC 2014 - Paris, France
Duration: Nov 3 2014Nov 6 2014

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other12th International Conference on Service-Oriented Computing, ICSOC 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


  • API evolution
  • Social media
  • StackOverflow


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