What do client developers concern when using web APIs? An empirical study on developer forums and stack overflow

Pradeep K. Venkatesh, Shaohua Wang, Feng Zhang, Ying Zou, Ahmed E. Hassan

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

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Popularity of service-oriented computing makes more and more companies and organizations provide their services through Web Application Program Interfaces (Web APIs). The Web APIs are considered to offer a convenient way to integrate web services to client applications. However, the integration process is often challenging. For example, updated Web APIs may be no longer compatible with the current version of client applications, thus break the client applications. To help the integration process, it is of significant interest to understand the challenges that are encountered by client developers. Developer forums and Stack Overflow are commonly used by client developers to seek help from fellow peers. In this paper, we mine both developer forums and Stack Overflow to find the common challenges encountered by client developers. We perform an empirical study on 32 Web APIs with a total of 92,471 discussions. To extract topics from all discussions, we apply a topic modeling technique called Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). The results show that on average five dominant topics can cover at least 50% of questions regarding each Web API. We further investigate how topics evolve across Web APIs, and find five patterns. As a summary, our findings highlight a list of dominant concerns and persistent concerns for each Web API that Web API providers should pay more attention to.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2016 IEEE International Conference on Web Services, ICWS 2016
EditorsStephan Reiff-Marganiec
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages131-138
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781509026753
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 31 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event23rd IEEE International Conference on Web Services, ICWS 2016 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Jun 27 2016Jul 2 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2016 IEEE International Conference on Web Services, ICWS 2016

Other

Other23rd IEEE International Conference on Web Services, ICWS 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Period6/27/167/2/16

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

Keywords

  • Client developer discussions
  • Crowd-sourced forum
  • Developer forum
  • Stack overflow
  • Topic modeling
  • Web API

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