2020 State of the API Report
The annual State of the API survey is the largest and most comprehensive survey of the API industry. Every year, Postman surveys industry members to get a picture of the API industry—to understand who is working with APIs, how they are getting their work done, and where they see the industry going. More than 13,500 developers, testers, executives, and others took our 2020 survey and provided insights on everything from how they spend their time to what they see as the biggest issues and opportunities for APIs.
Three Key Findings
API investments stay strong
Close to half of respondents stated that investment of time and resources into APIs will increase over the next 12 months, while another third stated that investments into APIs will stay the same, despite a tough economic environment.
The pandemic has changed the world, but it didn’t stop APIs
Nearly 90% of industry members surveyed stated that their organizations offered remote work options as a result of COVID-19. Furthermore, nearly a third (30.6%) said that APIs played a role in their organization’s ability to respond to COVID-19— many utilized APIs for customer communications, powering remote work options, and quickly responding to regulatory changes and government initiatives.
APIs are the nucleus of digital transformation
For those working on digital transformation initiatives, 84.5% state that APIs are playing a significant role in those initiatives.
Over 60% of respondents rated themselves as 5 or better (out of 10) in terms of embracing an “API-first” philosophy, which indicates a groundswell toward API-first.
The API industry continues to touch just about every job role, from developers to management to sales, and even to the C-suite. In fact, 1 in 10 of those working with APIs today are in management roles—from the C-suite through to directors and managers.
Whether internal, external, or partner, APIs are perceived as reliable—more than half of respondents stated that APIs do not break, stop working, or materially change specification often enough to matter. Respondents choosing the “not often enough to matter” option here came in at 55.8% for internal APIs, 60.4% for external APIs, and 61.2% for partner APIs.
When it comes to producing APIs, the number one obstacle by a wide margin is lack of time, cited by more than half of respondents. Compare that to the number one obstacle to consuming APIs: lack of documentation (which also led other factors by a wide margin). In fact, less than 5% of individuals give the APIs they work with a 9 out of 10 or higher when rating how well documented these APIs are.
The four most important factors individuals consider before integration with an API are reliability (71.6%), security (71.0%), performance (70.9%), and documentation (70.3%).
Expectations for how individuals allocate their time is generally in line with how their time is actually spent, but there are some notable discrepancies. On average, individuals feel like they should spend nearly 15% of their time on automated testing, compared to 11% in real life; similarly, they expect to spend nearly 11% on designing APIs, while in actuality it’s less than 8.7%. Where will this time come from? Well, individuals spend 17% of their time debugging APIs, compared to 10% in their ideal state.
REST is the dominant architectural style, used by 93.4% of respondents. In distant second, third, and fourth places are webhooks (34.4%), SOAP (33.4%), and GraphQL (22.5%). Likewise, JSON Schema is the dominant API specification, used by 75.6% of respondents; it was followed by Swagger 2.0 (43.9%), OpenAPI 3.0 (27.8%), and GraphQL (22.5 %).
Looking to future technologies, respondents are most excited about microservices (48.7%), Kubernetes (43.6%), and containers (42.2%).