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Tin Can Recipes—This is a big deal for Interoperability!

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Categories: Announcements, Best Practices, Recipes, Registry, Spec Effort

Posted 13 June 2014


For the Tin Can API (aka Experience API) to succeed, it needs continuous and consistent use by the community.

But, Tin Can is extremely flexible—which is both a benefit and a curse. One experience might be expressed several different ways by different systems, and this can make reporting difficult.

The community needs a way of using the same words when describing the same experiences. That’s where Recipes come in.

A Recipe tells you how.

Just as in the cooking world, a recipe is a list of ingredients and a set of instructions. When applied, you get a consistent and expected result that can be provided to others to do the same.

A Recipe is a standard way of expressing an experience. It provides a common language that prevents the use of different words to say the same thing.

Think about video, for example.
There are many different video players—let’s take Vimeo, Youtube, and Lynda, for example. Each one might express what a user is doing in a different way.

    vimeoVimeo might say:
    Tim Martin watched “How to Make a Statement”

    YoutubeYouTube might say:
    Tim Martin launched “How to Make a Statement” might say:
    Tim Martin viewed “How to Make a Statement”

See? One experience, expressed in three different ways. If all three of these used a video Recipe, which specifies which “ingredients” to use and how to use them, all three statements would be the same. And so, the recipe provides consistency.

Consistency is important—Recipes promote consistency.

Recipes will be critically important for the adoption of the Tin Can API over the coming years as they provide a way to achieve interoperability of the meaning of data. Anything that is going to be expressed through Tin Can by more than one system should have a Recipe. Whether that be video, assessments, location check-in, performance observation, you name it—recipes provide consistency for reporting.

Why are you making Recipes?

We do things to support the community and promote adoption of the spec. Over the past year, we’ve seen disparate groups of people implement the same concepts in different ways too many times.

We want to encourage the impromptu, crowd-sourced, but centralized focus that can produce usable results right now. We’re doing many of the early big projects and we are running into these problems first. So, we’re sharing what we’ve been working on with early adopters.

Recipes need community involvement.

As communities of practice grow around the best of these newly minted conventions, more formal processes can take over for a specific group. Recipes target the middle ground between the wild west and strict parliamentary procedure. We very much want to encourage community feedback and participation in existing and new Recipes.

This is only the beginning.

We’ll be sharing as much information about existing and new recipes as the community creates them. To read more about recipes and see the first available ones, read the deep dive blog or check out the Tin Can Recipes page. If you have Recipes or are working on one, share!


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