Tin Can vs. Experience API vs. xAPI

Tin Can, 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 Experience API or xAPI, but you can call it whichever you like!

It’s all the same thing

The original version of the Experience 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 “the Experience API” or “xAPI” by ADL, but by that point there had been so much excitement and even early adoption of Tin Can 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 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 call it “Experience API” or “xAPI”

We want to talk to people about the Experience API 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 “Experience API” because in our experience, that’s the name that most people, especially those who aren’t already familiar with the specification, know best.

A word on Trademarks

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.

Call it whichever you like!

Just because we call it “Experience API,” doesn’t mean you have to! In fact, if you prefer to use Tin Can, be our guest. 

Read more

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

Or are you ready to move on and find out why you should adopt?

Questions about xAPI? Contact us.