Asking and answering questions about unfamiliar APIs: an exploratory study
The increasing size of APIs and the increase in the number of APIs available imply developers must frequently learn how to use unfamiliar APIs. To identify the types of questions developers want answered when working with unfamiliar APIs and to understand the difficulty they may encounter answering those questions, we conducted a study involving twenty programmers working on different programming tasks, using unfamiliar APIs. Based on the screen captured videos and the verbalization of the participants, we identified twenty different types of questions programmers ask when working with unfamiliar APIs, and provide new insights to the cause of the difficulties programmers encounter when answering questions about the use of APIs. The questions we have identified and the difficulties we observed can be used for evaluating tools aimed at improving API learning, and in identifying areas of the API learning process where tool support is missing, or could be improved.