2020 State of the API Report

2020 State Of The API Survey

A Day, Week, or Year in the Life

Time spent with APIs

Similar to 2019, the highest number of developers in this year’s survey spent fewer than 10 hours a week working with APIs, at 39.4%. Within primary job functions, backend developers were most likely to spend greater than 20 hours/week working with APIs. Within industries, those in banking/finance were most likely to spend greater than 20 hours/week. Within functional areas, DevOps/API Ops and developer relations/evangelism were most likely to spend greater than 20 hours/week working with APIs. API-first leaders were more likely to spend greater than 20 hours/week working on APIs than others. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience were also more likely to spend greater than 20 hours/week working on APIs than those with 0–5 years of experience.

Less than 10 hours a week: 39.4%
10 - 20 hours/week: 36%
Greater than 20 hours/week: 24.6%

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API time allocation

When asked how individuals allocate the time they spend with APIs, more time was allocated to coding/programming APIs than any other task, with a mean of 29.49% and median of 25%. Debugging required the second-highest amount of time from respondents, at 17% mean, 10% median.

Automated testing was the only other task accounting for 10% or more of allotted time, at 10.83%.

Within primary job functions, backend developers allocated the most time to coding/programming APIs, and within industries, gaming allocated the most time to coding/programming APIs. Within functional areas, engineering/development allocated the most time to coding/programming APIs.

Coding/programming APIs: 29.49%
Debugging and manual testing: 17%
Automated testing: 10.83%
Designing and mocking APIs: 8.67%
API documentation: 6.14%
Managing others who use APIs: 5.83%
Meeting about APIs: 5.72%
Collaborating on APIs: 4.92%
API monitoring: 4.27%
Managing API artifacts: 2.52%
Publishing APIs: 2.46%
Writing about APIs: 2.16%

Respondents were asked to allocate 100 points across all items

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API time allocation: ideal state

Respondents’ expectations for their allocation of time was primarily in line with actual allocation of time, with the same top five leading the way, but there are some notable discrepancies.

Respondents believe more time should be allocated to designing and mocking APIs (10.75%) than they are currently able to (8.67%), and they should spend more time automating testing (14.89%) than they do (10.83%).

Meanwhile, respondents feel like they should spend less time debugging (10.75%) than they actually do (17%), and they should spend a little less time in meetings (4.52% ideal versus 5.72% actual).

Within primary job functions, full stack developer and backend developer think that coding/programming APIs should be allocated the most time. Within industries, gaming thinks that coding/programming APIs should be allocated the most time. Within functional areas, engineering development thinks that coding/programming APIs should be allocated the most time.

Looking at the items with the most points allocated, respondents with 6+ years of API development experience also think they should allocate more time to coding/programming APIs on average than those with 0–5 years of experience.

Coding/programming APIs: 28.57%
Automated testing: 14.89%
Designing and mocking APIs: 10.75%
Debugging and manual testing: 9.99%
API documentation: 7.3%
Collaborating on APIs: 5.72%
Managing others who use APIs: 5.43%
API monitoring: 4.83%
Meeting about APIs: 4.52%
Publishing APIs: 2.85%
Writing about APIs: 2.82%
Managing API artifacts: 2.34%

Respondents were asked to allocate 100 points across all items

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Number of APIs produced in the last 12 months: individual

Most respondents produced or helped to produce five or fewer APIs, with 1–2 and 3–5 coming in highest, at an almost identical 22.9% and 22.8%, respectively. Almost 16% reported producing 0, while 5.8% produced 50+.

Within primary job functions, technical architects and CXO/VP were most likely to have produced (or helped to produce) 51+ internal and external APIs in the past 12 months. Within industries, retail was most likely to have produced (or helped to produce) 51+ internal and external APIs in the past 12 months. Within functional areas, developer relations/evangelism were most likely to have produced (or helped to produce) 51+ internal and external APIs in the past 12 months.

API-first leaders were more likely to have produced (or helped to produce) 51+ internal and external APIs than others. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience were more likely to have produced (or helped to produce) 51+ internal and external APIs than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0: 15.8%
1-2: 22.9%
3-5: 22.8%
5-10: 14.7%
11-20: 10.3%
21-50: 7.8%
51+: 5.8%

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Number of APIs produced in the last 12 months: organization

Over a quarter of respondents were not sure about how many APIs their organization produced, which indicates challenges with API visibility in many organizations. The number of APIs produced was spread out fairly evenly among every range listed between 1-500, but ranges underneath 50 APIs accounted for a cumulative 46.9%.

API-first leaders were more likely to work for an organization that produces more than a thousand internal and external APIs per year than others. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience were more likely to work for an organization that produces 1,001+ internal and external APIs than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0: 3.4%
1-2: 8.6%
3-5: 9.5%
5-10: 8.8%
11-20: 7.3%
21-50: 9.3%
51-100: 8.2%
101-500: 8.9%
501-1,000: 3.5%
1,001+: 6.1%
Not Sure: 26.5%

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Number of APIs consumed in the last 12 months: individual

We asked survey-takers how many APIs they consumed in the last year, and the results created a bell curve representing API consumption, peaking with respondents consuming 5-10 APIs, at 19.4%, followed closely by 3-5 at 16.2, and 11-20 at 16.1%.

Within primary job functions, technical architects were most likely to have consumed 51+ internal and external APIs. Within industries, technology was most likely to have consumed 51+ internal and external APIs. Within functional areas, developer relations/evangelism was most likely to have consumed 51+ internal and external APIs.

API-first leaders were more likely to have consumed 51+ internal and external APIs in the past 12 months than those rating it a 6 or less. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience were more likely to have consumed 51+ internal and external APIs in the past 12 months than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0: 1.6%
1-2: 7.9%
3-5: 16.2%
5-10: 19.4%
11-20: 16.1%
21-50: 12.9%
51+: 14%
Not Sure: 11.9%

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Number of APIs consumed in the last 12 months: organization

We found a lack of visibility in API consumption across the organization: When asked how many APIs their organizations consumed, about one-third of respondents, 33.7%, were unsure.

Within primary job functions, sales/solutions engineers were most likely to consume 1,000+ internal and external APIs. Within industries, banking/finance were most likely to consumer 1,000+ internal and external APIs. Within functional areas, sales/marketing were most likely to consume 1,000+ internal and external APIs.

API-first leaders were more likely to work for an organization that consumed 1,000+ internal and external APIs than others. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience were more likely to have worked for an organization that consumed 1,000+ internal and external APIs than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0: 0.4%
1-2: 3%
3-5: 6.1%
5-10: 8.6%
11-20: 8.5%
21-50: 9.9%
51-100: 8.7%
101-500: 8.3%
501-1,000: 4%
1,001+: 8.4%
Not Sure: 33.7%

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API development effort

When asked to rate the percentage of their organization’s development effort spent working with APIs, 40.7% said that more than half of the organization's development effort is spent on APIs.

API-first leaders work for organizations whose percentage of effort working with APIs is higher on average than others. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience work for organizations whose percentage of effort working with APIs is higher on average than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0% of development: 0.7%
1-25% of development: 23.9%
26-50% of development: 34.7%
51-75% of development: 26.7%
76+% of development: 14%

Mean: 47.47, Median: 50

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