2020 State of the API Report
The Rise of 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.
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.