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Tin Can API, Experience API, xAPI – three names for the same thing. It’s all very confusing and can be frustrating so this page aims to help you understand. The short version is that it’s all the same thing, we call it Tin Can, but you can call it whichever you like!
The original version of Tin Can API was developed by Rustici Software as part of a research project commissioned by ADL. This project was code named ‘Project Tin Can’ and Rustici Software submitted the ‘Tin Can API’ as the result. This was later officially named ‘Experience API’ by ADL, but by that point there had been so much excitement and even early adoption of Tin Can API that the name had stuck and we’ve ended up with two names for exactly the same thing.
There’s no difference at all between Tin Can API and Experience API; zero, nothing, nada. People sometimes think that they’re two separate forks of the project, one owned by Rustici Software and one owned by ADL, but that’s absolutely not the case. Rustici Software, ADL and other members of the community continue to work together on the same single specification document.
We want to talk to people about Tin Can using the term they’re most familiar with so we can get past the name and get onto the awesome things they’re going to do. But in many contexts (like this website) we’re talking to a broad audience and have to choose one name or the other. In those cases, we call it ‘Tin Can’ because in our experience, that’s the name that most people, especially those who aren’t already familiar with the specification, know best.
It would require a huge marketing effort to change that and although ‘Experience API’ is becoming more well known, almost every time we ask a group of L&D Professionals which name they’ve heard of ‘Tin Can’ comes out on top. Any efforts to move people to the ‘Experience API’ name would be better spent helping people do awesome things.
As part of the original ADL funded research project, Rustici Software applied for trademarks to protect the name ‘Tin Can API’. In May 2012, Questionmark raised some very valid concerns about our ownership of these trademarks.
We publicly stated then, and will reiterate here, that we consider these trademarks to be property of ADL. We have asked ADL to begin the process of transferring them to government control (which is a lot harder than you’d think it would be!)
Rustici Software has no interest in maintaining proprietary control over these trademarks nor do we have any intention of using them for competitive advantage. We simply registered them as part of our research project to protect the resultant intellectual property. We were following the precedent set by CTC when they developed SCORM many years ago in a similar research project.
As we stated in 2012, if you would like for us to provide more explicit and legally binding assurances regarding use of the Tin Can trademarks, please just let us know.
Just because we call it ‘Tin Can’, doesn’t mean you have to! In fact, if you prefer to use xAPI, just scroll to the top of the page below the logo and click ‘I call it xAPI’ to translate this website to use ‘xAPI’ instead of ‘Tin Can’. We’ve disabled the code where we’re explicitly talking about Tin Can compared to xAPI (like this page), but it works everywhere else.
Want to find out more about Tin Can? Use the links below to dig deeper…
Or are you ready to move on and find out why you should adopt?