I am starting into my dissertation research, which will explore the different ways that people who are involved in the design, development and deployment of API-based software think and talk about these sorts of systems.
The end goal will be to move toward a common language/mental model that can be used by multiple stakeholders who work with software that includes an API. In preliminary conversations with people who have worked on API’s, different stakeholders have referred to API’s as a sort of “door,” a “language,” a “piece of software,” a “platform.” As a result, many have described confusion between stakeholders around the process. In an email conversation with one of the founders of NetBeans, he explained that “it was really hard to convince [the business folks involved in the project] about the importance of compatible public APIs during the first five years. At that time the credit we get back by doing it was not that visible.”
For my research, my plan is to start by interviewing some teams from different organizations who are working with API-based software to find out how they talk about it. The initial steps would be a series of 30-60 minute interviews with a few stakeholders. This would ideally include one person focused on the technical design, another focused on the coding, another on the user experience, and another focused on the business/organizational side of things. Ideally, it would also include interviews with one or two of your external stakeholders who use one of your API’s.
Are you and your team be willing to participate? The goal would be to take a minimum of your time, and the benefit to you will be some insights into your process.
If you are interested, please contact me at chmbrigg[at]indiana[dot]edu.