2019 Postman “State of the API” Report Reveals APIs Expanding Beyond Developers

Working directly with APIs has become part of a surprising number of positions, including non-developers such as executives and technical writers, which is an intriguing trend

Postman, the leading collaboration platform for API development, today released the results of its annual 2019 Postman “State of the API” Report. The report is based on a survey of more than 10,000 API developers, users, testers, and executives. The respondents provided insights on everything from how their time with APIs is spent to what they see as the most significant issues and opportunities for APIs in 2020.

While the survey reports that more developers work with APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) than anyone else in a typical organization, the reach of APIs is increasingly touching more people than just those who code. Only 46.6% of respondents identified as being either a front-end or back-end developer (compared to 58.6% last year), with QA engineers, technical team leads, API architects, DevOps specialists, and others rounding out the field.

“This year’s survey data reveals that the API ecosystem is expanding beyond developers,” said Abhinav Asthana, Postman’s co-founder and CEO. “Working directly with APIs has become part of a surprising number of positions, including non-developers such as executives and technical writers, which we think is an intriguing trend.”

Key data highlights from the survey include:

API Security: While API security is a hot topic—driven by frequent reports of API security breaches and misuse—respondents feel confident in their API security postures. Nearly three-quarters feel that their APIs are “very secure” or have “above-average security.” Only 2.4% stated that their APIs were not at all secure.

API Documentation: The most helpful enhancement that API producers can make is to provide better examples in the documentation (63.5%), followed by standardization (59.4%) and sample code (57.8%). API consumers also find real-world use cases, better workflows, additional tools, and SDKs helpful, although to a lesser extent.

Additional data points:
Experience: 78.2% of developers have 5 or fewer years of experience developing APIs; 12.2% have 10 or more years of experience
Team Size: 72.6% work on teams of 10 members or less, 25.7% on 22-50 member teams, and 1.7% on 50+ member teams

Time Spent:
 26.1% of time is spent on development, 22.2% on debugging and manual testing, 11.4% on automated testing, 11.2% on designing and mocking, 9.1% on managing others, 7.3% on documentation, 5.7% on monitoring, 3.6% on publishing, and 3.3% on writing about APIs (NOTE: 70% spend more time on manual testing and debugging than they thought they should)

Number of APIs:
 39% generally work with 1-5 APIs, 22% with 6-10, 14% with 11-20, 11% with 20-50, and 13% work with more than 50 APIs
Internal vs. External: 52.8% of APIs used are internal, 28.4% used were shared only among integration partners, and 18.8% used are public

 47.6% feel that their APIs do not break, stop working, or materially change specification often enough to matter, 28.4% said it happens monthly, 15.7% weekly, and 3.2% daily
Industry: 52.3% work in technology, 41.2% in business and/or IT services, followed in order by banking and finance, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, government/defense, advertising/agencies, nonprofits, and a variety of other industries

 53.9% said microservices is the most exciting technology for developers in the next year, while 45.5% said containers and 44.0% said serverless architecture (NOTE: OpenAPI 3.0, GraphQL, HTTP 2.0, and WebSocket were also considerations)

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