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54% of Developers Cite Lack of Documentation as the Top Obstacle to Consuming APIs by@rebeccajg
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54% of Developers Cite Lack of Documentation as the Top Obstacle to Consuming APIs

by Rebecca Johnston-GilbertOctober 15th, 2020
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More than 13,500 developers and other professionals took part in the 2020 State of the API survey and report. API reliability is perceived as reliable whether internal, external, or partner, according to survey. CI/CD pipelines were the most popular way to deploy APIs, followed by deploying APIs in the cloud. REST was the top architectural style for APIs, with a sweeping majority of respondents (93.4%) most familiar with REST. DevOps practitioners rely on a number of tools, with Jenkins leading the way at 41.3%.

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Recently, I worked with my team at Postman to field the 2020 State of the API survey and report. We’re insanely grateful to the folks who participated—more than 13,500 developers and other professionals took the survey, helping make this the largest and most comprehensive survey in the industry. (Seriously folks, thank you!) Curious what we learned? Here are a few insights in areas that you might find interesting:

API Reliability

Whether internal, external, or partner, APIs are perceived as reliable—more than half of respondents stated that APIs do not break, stop working, or materially change specification often enough to matter. Respondents choosing the “not often enough to matter” option here came in at 55.8% for internal APIs, 60.4% for external APIs, and 61.2% for partner APIs.

Obstacles to Producing APIs

When asked about the biggest obstacles to producing APIs, lack of time is by far the leading obstacle, with 52.3% of respondents listing it. Lack of knowledge (36.4%) and people (35.1%) were the next highest.

Obstacles to Consuming APIs

When asked about the biggest obstacles to consuming APIs, lack of documentation clocked in the highest (54.3%), by an extremely wide margin. Other top obstacles to consuming APIs are lack of knowledge, complexity, and lack of time, all cited by a little over one-third of respondents.

DevOps Tooling

DevOps practitioners rely on a number of tools, with Jenkins standing out and leading the way at 41.3%. AWS DevOps (30.7%) and Azure DevOps (26.1%) registered second and third, respectively. GitHub Actions, GitLab Pipelines, and Bitbucket Pipelines round out the remaining tools that received responses totaling 15% or higher.

Deploying APIs

Respondents deploying APIs reported using a number of different approaches. CI/CD pipelines were the most popular, at 53.4%, followed by deploying APIs in the cloud.

Architectural Styles

As far as architectural styles for APIs are concerned, a sweeping majority of respondents (93.4%) were most familiar with REST. More than one-third mentioned webhooks and almost one-quarter mentioned WebSockets, which may point toward an event-driven future. Rounding out the top five are SOAP at 33.4% and GraphQL at 22.5%.

Specifications

We also asked folks which API specifications they use. JSON Schema was by far the top specification in use in 2020, at 75.6%. Swagger 2.0 was next, followed by OpenAPI 3.0. GraphQL also had some significant reported usage at 22.5% and the rest fell in line significantly behind at 5.8% and less.

If you’re interested in digging deeper, head over to the Postman website to read the entire State of the API report.