2020 State of the API Report

2020 State Of The API Survey

The Rise of API-First

Defining API-first

Before we dig too deep into the survey results, we want to set the stage for this report by addressing one particular, high-level phenomenon: There's been a notable groundswell of developers, industry members, and analysts using the term "API-first" in the past year or two, but yet there's no known, industry-wide, universally accepted definition of this term. So we wanted to ask the question, "What does 'API-first' mean to you?"

When it comes to defining API-first, we found a variety of responses, with no overwhelming favorite. However, with only 13% of respondents saying they were unsure what API-first means, that leaves 87% who are familiar with the term, which is certainly a measure of its impressive and expanding reach.

Defining business requirements before defining and designing APIs: 14.3%
Defining and designing APIs and schema before beginning development: 39.2%
Developing APIs before developing applications or integrations: 33.5%
I'm not sure: 13%

Embracing API-first

We asked every respondent to rate themselves on a scale of 0–10 on how fully they embrace an API-first philosophy across the design, development, deployment, and operation of APIs. Over 60% of respondents rated themselves as 5 or better in terms of embracing an API-first philosophy, showing that there is clear momentum toward API-first.

About a quarter of respondents rated themselves at 7 or higher. These individuals who most deeply embrace an API-first philosophy—we've identified them as API-first leaders—show significant differences in how they answered many survey questions, and we will highlight those differences throughout this report.

We should also note that these API-first leaders were significantly more likely to define API-first as "Defining and designing APIs and schema before beginning development" than other respondents.

0 (We are not at all API-first): 4.3%
1: 5.8%
2: 7.9%
3: 10.2%
4: 10%
5 (We are somewhat API-first): 26.2%
6: 10.8%
7: 10.5%
8: 7.7%
9: 2.9%
10 (We are fully API-first): 3.8%

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