State of the Practice in Application Programming Interfaces (APIs): A Case Study

Mikko Raatikainen, Elina Kettunen, Ari Salonen, Marko Komssi, Tommi Mikkonen, Timo Lehtonen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become prevalent in today’s software systems and services. APIs are basically a technical means to realize the co-operation between software systems or services. While there are several guidelines for API development, the actually applied practices and challenges are less clear. To better understand the state of the practice of API development and management in the industry, we conducted a descriptive case study in four Finnish software companies: two consultancy companies developing software for their customers, and two companies developing their software products. As a result, we identified five different usage scenarios for APIs and emphasize that diversity of usage should be taken into account more explicitly especially in research. API development and technical management are well supported by the existing tools and technologies especially available from the cloud technology. This leaves as the main challenge the selection of the right technology from the existing technology stack. Documentation and usability are practical issues to be considered and often less rigorously addressed. However, understanding what kind of API management model to apply for the business context appears as the major challenge. We also suggest considering APIs more clearly a separate concern in the product management with specific practices, such as API roadmapping.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoftware Architecture. ECSA 2021 : 15th European Conference, ECSA 2021, Virtual Event, Sweden, September 13-17, 2021, Proceedings
EditorsS Biffl, E Navarro, W Lowe, M Sirjani, R Mirandola, D Weyns
Number of pages16
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-86043-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-86044-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventEuropean Conference, ECSA - , Sweden
Duration: 13 Sep 202117 Sep 2021
Conference number: 15

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743

Fields of Science

  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • Software engineering
  • Application programming interface
  • API
  • API management
  • Case study

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