Where does Google find API documentation?

Christoph Treude, Maurício Aniche

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
116 Downloads (Pure)


The documentation of popular APIs is spread across many formats, from vendor-curated reference documentation to Stack Overflow threads. For developers, it is often not obvious from where a particular piece of information can be retrieved. To understand this documentation landscape, we systematically conducted Google searches for the elements of ten popular APIs. We found that their documentation is widely dispersed among many sources, that GitHub and Stack Overflow play a prominent role among the search results, and that most sources are quick to document new API functionalities. These findings inform API vendors about where developers find documentation about their products, they inform developers about places to look for documentation, and they enable researchers to further study the software documentation landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWAPI '18
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on API Usage and Evolution
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-5754-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventWAPI 2018: 2nd International Workshop on API Usage and Evolution - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 2 Jun 20182 Jun 2018
Conference number: 2


WorkshopWAPI 2018
Abbreviated titleWAPI'18
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Where does Google find API documentation?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this