The massive collection of Stack Overflow (SO) questions and answers covers a wide range of software development topics. These topics help developers in solving different problems associated to the topics of code, design and testing of the software. The topic is a collection of different words that mostly occur frequently in a corpus and are often semantically related.
There are many changes in Web APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) provided by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Linkedin. The clients using these APIs must update their applications within the deadline of change provided by the major API providers. As per the recent updates from Facebook [1], the migration of all Facebook Pages to the new page’s experience is the result of the deprecation of 89-page metrics as of November 1, 2023. The notice period of 90 days for the client developer expired on March 14, 2024. The client developer faced different issues that needed to be resolved to improve the quality of their client applications.
In this paper, we investigate the issues of client developers while using various WSs using the SO dataset. We also use a sampling set of SO inquiries to discover the categories of issues associated with employing WSs( Web Services). To collect the posts related to WSs on SO, we performed three steps:
  1. We downloaded the SO Dataset
  2. We identified the WSs tag-set inside the dataset, and
  3. We identified WSs-related posts within the dataset based on the identified WSs tag-set.

Data Extraction

We download the datadump [2] of Stack Exchange. There are around 60,428 questions and 1,73,356 responses in the SO dataset. To identify WSs-related posts, we utilized tags assigned by the developers to each post in the dataset. We identified the tag set that might be used to identify all the posts connected to the WSs as per the guidelines of Yang et al [3]. After a careful investigation of all tags, the following were considered Basic-tags (B-tags): (1). Web-services, (2). REST, (3). SOAP, (4). API, (5). Micro-services.  These basic tags help identify the 25 tags that might be generally classified as tags relevant to the architecture of WSs, such as SOAP, REST, WCF, etc. The significance and relevance were calculated for each WS in the Sub-Dataset (SD)to find the most relevant WS tags. The list of WS tags is available in Figure 1.

Figure 1:List of Web Services Tags

Extraction of Web Services Topics

We discovered 36 WSs topics from our selected posts associated to the WSs tags. The topics are grouped into six categories after labelling: Client APIs development, Web APIs, WS Authorization, Data Processing, Framework Support, and Mobile Applications development. Figure 2 shows the topics’ distribution of posts in the six categories. Among these categories, Client API development has the highest number of questions and topics compared to others.

Figure 2: shows the question distribution per category of topic.

Figure 3 shows the 36 WSs topics classified into six groups based on the relationship between developers’ discussions

Figure 3:Classification of Six major Topics into sub topics

Trend Analysis of WSs Topics

We analyze the trends for the six categories of WSs topics over 14 years in terms of the absolute impact. We notice a trend that began in September 2010 and gradually increases for the Client API development category as compared to the mobile application-related topics. Data processing gets the attention of developers after December 2011. The number of posts for Web API development increased between May 2014 (19) to Feb 2020 (25). The significant growth in absolute topic impact for Client API development and Web APIs specifies the evolution of the WSs topics on the SO without any declension point until July 2021. Figure 4 shows the changes at different times for six discussion topics.

Figure 4:User interest in different topics over a specific time

We also checked the types of questions mostly discussed by the Client Developers about web services over a fixed period from a sample of 1,765 questions out of a total of 8,739 questions.

Categorization of WSs Posts

We used the prior categorization scheme of Rosen et al. [4] to label each post from our samples17,65 questions i.e., How, What, Why, Information Seeking and Information Giving.

Figure 5:Percentage of each type of question for different topics

We also examined the popularity of different topics over SO. To determine the popularity of every topic, we used three metrics: 1) Average-mean of the views for all of the posts on each topic, 2) Average-number of questions asked about a topic that has been designated as a user favourite, and 3) Average-score of all questions in a topic. These three features are standard measures for posts on the SO. The SO team mostly used these measures to evaluate the popularity of posts. To determine the challenges in obtaining solutions for each question relevant to WSs we used two metrics: The percentage of questions for which there were no acceptable responses and the average topic median time in hours it took on a topic’s questions to receive an accepted answer.



  3. G. Yang, T. Zhang, and B. Lee, “Towards semi-automatic bug triage and severity prediction based on topic model and multi-feature of bug reports,” IEEE 38th Annual Computer Software and Applications Conference.IEEE, pp. 97–106,2014.
  4. C. Rosen and E. Shihab, "What are mobile developers asking about? A large scale study using stack overflow", Empirical Softw. Eng., vol. 21, pp. 1192-1223, Jun. 2016.