2022 State of the API Report

Postman State Of The API Report Postmanauts researching ontop of graphs. Illustration.

API-First and Other Strategies

Defining API-first

What does "API-first" mean to API developers and professionals? The industry as a whole appears to favor this definition: defining and designing APIs and underlying schema before developing dependent APIs, applications, or integrations. The next favorite? Almost three out of every 10 developers and API professionals preferred the definition of developing APIs before developing applications or integrations dependent on APIs.

Defining and designing APIs and schema before beginning development: 39%
Developing APIs before developing dependent apps or integrations : 31%
Defining business requirements before defining and designing APIs: 18%
I'm not sure: 11%
Other: 1%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Embracing API-first

Teams and organizations continue to embrace an API-first philosophy. Two-thirds of this year's survey respondents again ranked themselves as a five or higher in terms of embracing API-first. A select few lead the way: 8% ranked themselves as 9 or 10 on the scale of embracing API-first.

We refer to these respondents as “API-first leaders.” They report spending 76% of their development efforts on APIs, compared with 51% for all respondents.

0: 5%
1: 5%
2: 6%
3: 9%
4: 9%
5: 28%
6: 10%
7: 12%
8: 9%
9: 3%
10: 5%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Development priorities

We asked respondents to identify the top priorities for their development teams and organizations, and quality remained the clear winner, coming in at 80%. Agility, reliability, security, and speed of development were also important to more than half of respondents. What seemed to be less of a concern? Reducing costs, cited by less than one-third of API professionals. API-first leaders were even more likely to cite quality, reliability, agility, and security as priorities than other survey respondents.

Quality of applications/ programs/services developed: 80%
Reliability of applications/programs/services: 64%
Agility to respond to business needs: 63%
Security of applications and information: 54%
Speed of development: 52%
Reducing costs: 31%
Other: 1%

Multiple choices allowed

Public vs private vs partner

Respondents were asked to allocate 100 points among three API categories (public, private, and partner) to indicate the percentage of APIs in their organization for each. The leader remains private APIs. Interestingly, API-first leaders reported a lower percentage of private APIs and higher percentage of public APIs, indicating that these leaders spend less time coding functionality in-house when they can rely on functionality already publicly available from others across the industry.

Private (your company): 58%
Partner (integrations): 27%
Public (available on web): 16%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

API integration: what matters most?

When we asked what factors are considered before integrating with an API, respondents told us performance was the top factor. This just barely edged out last year's number-one pick, security. Reliability and documentation remained among the top four factors. Also notable were scalability and usability.

API-first leaders were more likely than other respondents to cite the top four factors: performance, security, reliability, and documentation.

Performance: 72%
Security: 71%
Reliability: 68%
Documentation: 64%
Scalability: 59%
Usability: 51%
Pricing: 41%
Health/uptime: 38%
Changes/versioning: 31%
Customer support: 29%
Development community: 29%
Provider reputation: 24%
Popularity/adoption: 24%
Other: 2%

Multiple choices allowed

Consuming APIs: internal integration is key

We asked what factors went into an organization's decision to consume an API, and the top answer this year was a surprise. The number-one choice, by far, was how well an API integrates with internal apps and systems. That's a big change from last year's survey, where internal integration wasn't even among the top three considerations.

This shift comes as companies increasingly use APIs to interact inside the organization, possibly replacing traditional methods like file transfer, database sharing, and email. In the past year, the Postman API Platform has seen the number of integrated APIs across enterprise teams jump twentyfold.

Integration with internal systems: 69%
Integration with external systems: 60%
Enhancing functionality of internal systems: 51%
Speeding up development timelines: 50%
Reducing development costs: 46%
Enhancing products and services for customers: 45%
Reducing operation costs: 40%
Improving organizational security or governance: 33%
Improving testing of systems: 31%
Reducing risk due to outages or non-performing apps: 29%
Enabling mobile applications: 24%
Other: 1%

Multiple choices allowed

What I like about being at an API-first company is the product. When we dogfood–when we write friction logs on what's working, what's not, what could be better–we see ourselves as a developer-experience company, first and foremost. The tiebreaker on almost every discussion or debate we have is, ‘Are we doing right by our developers in the offering of the API?' Everything else comes in support of that.

Chris T., engineering manager

Producing APIs: heavier focus on internal integration

What factors do respondents consider when deciding whether to produce an API? Their top answer was the same as last year: integration with internal apps and systems. But this year, the factor jumped in importance: 83% of respondents selected it, up from 67% last year.

Internal integration rose in importance this year for both producing and consuming APIs. It's a shift that bears watching, as it has implications for API documentation and design, as well as the full development lifecycle.

Integration with internal systems: 83%
Integration with external systems: 61%
Enhancing functionality of internal systems: 55%
Enhancing products and services for customers: 50%
Speeding up development timelines: 42%
Reducing development costs: 35%
Improving organizational security or governance: 34%
Reducing operation costs: 34%
Improving testing of systems: 34%
Enabling mobile applications: 31%
Reducing risk due to outages or non-performing apps: 28%
Other: 1%

Multiple choices allowed

Most of my developers are acquired through corporate M&A. The only way we can get internal cross-team collaboration is through APIs. There are a lot of different ways people are documenting and sharing things–setting up workspaces and teams as part of the onboarding process. I can't think of how we'd work without APIs.

Paul C., technical lead

It pays to be API-first

We asked developers and API professionals their opinion about the benefits of an API-first approach to development. At least 75% of respondents agreed that developers at API-first companies are happier, launch new products faster, eliminate security risks sooner, create better software, and are more productive.

Strongly disagree
Disagree somewhat
Agree somewhat
Strongly agree

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.