You don’t need to know the History of the Experience API (xAPI) to understand and use it, but you might find it interesting. If so, this page is for you! We’ve also produced this timeline as a summary. Side note–when we worked on creating the spec initially, it was referred to as “Tin Can.” Now, the spec is called, “the Experience API.”


Before xAPI, there was SCORM. In fact, SCORM is still the most commonly used learning interoperability specification in our industry. SCORM defines a Content Aggregation Model (a way of packaging up e-learning in a zip file to load into any LMS) and a Run Time Environment (a way for the content to send tracking data to the LMS). SCORM is fully explained on scorm.com.

In 2010, SCORM was about 10 years old and ADL, the keepers of SCORM, issued a call for research asking for ideas for the next generation of SCORM. We applied, and were awarded the project. They asked us to research what the next-generation learning specification could/should look like. We then gathered information about what the next generation of online learning should be through five avenues:

Project Tin Can

The result of that research was called Project Tin Can, a draft specification designed to solve the problems being articulated by the industry. The industry had ten years of experience working with SCORM, and technology had advanced quite a bit since SCORM was first envisaged. Project Tin Can fused a decade of collective learning experiences with a decade of technological advances. This video illustrates what we envisioned:

The requirements of Project Tin Can are outlined here.

The Road to 1.0.0

Project Tin Can led to the release of Tin Can version 0.9 and development of the specification passed from Rustici Software to an open community shepherded by ADL (Rustici Software continues to be a leading member of that community). The specification working group collaborated to produce version 0.95 which was much closer to the spec we have today. The specification saw remarkably high levels of adoption even in these early beta releases, creating a solid adopter base for the release of version 1.0.0 on April 27th 2013.

Patch versions (which make the specification document easier to understand but don’t affect required behaviors) were released in October 2013 (1.0.1) and October 2014 (1.0.2). A more significant patch version (1.0.3) that includes many many clarifying amendments and a restructuring of the specification document is expected in late 2015. This will still not affect the requirements of the spec.

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Want to find out more about xAPI? Use the links below to dig deeper…

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