We Surveyed 28,252 Developers and Professionals about APIs. Here's What We Learned. by@rebeccajg

We Surveyed 28,252 Developers and Professionals about APIs. Here's What We Learned.

Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert HackerNoon profile picture

Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert

Lover of all things marketing and APIs.

Recently, I worked with our team at Postman to field the 2021 State of the API survey and report. We’re extraordinarily grateful to the folks who participated—more than 28,000 developers and API professionals took the survey, making it the largest and most comprehensive annual study of APIs, ever. Curious what we learned? Here are a few findings you might find interesting:

Obstacles to Producing APIs

When asked about the biggest obstacles to producing APIs, lack of time is by far the leading obstacle, with 45% of respondents listing it. Complexity was next most frequently cited at 38%, followed by lack of knowledge and lack of people both coming in at 34%.


Obstacles to Consuming APIs

When asked about the biggest obstacles to consuming APIs, the number one obstacle cited was lack of documentation, clocked at 55%. Other top obstacles to consuming APIs include complexity and lack of knowledge, both cited by one-third or more of participants.


DevOps Tooling

DevOps practitioners rely on a number of tools, with Jenkins leading the way at 37%. Azure DevOps (26%), GitHub Actions (25%), AWS DevOps (23%), and GitLab Pipelines (22%) round out the top five.


Deploying APIs

Respondents deploying APIs reported using a number of different approaches. CI/CD pipelines were the most popular, at 57%, followed by deploying APIs in the cloud (38%), frameworks (34%), and custom-built deployment methods (27%).


Architectural Styles

As far as architectural styles for APIs are concerned, a sweeping majority of respondents (94%) use REST; of those, nearly half said that they not only use REST, but that they “use it and love it.” The majority of participants are aware of webhooks, WebSockets, GraphQL, and SOAP, but none of these have seen the same level of adoption as REST among our participants.



We also asked folks which API specifications they know, use, and love, and JSON Schema was by far the top specification in use, cited by three-quarters of respondents. The next most popular specifications were Swagger 2.0 (54%) and OpenAPI 3.0 (40%).


API investments remain strong and steady as more companies embrace the API-first philosophy

An overwhelming 94% of respondents stated the investment of time and resources into APIs will increase or stay the same for the next 12 months. Additionally, in terms of embracing an API-first philosophy on a scale of one to ten, 67% of survey respondents ranked themselves as five or higher—a five-point increase from last year.


The investments in an API-first philosophy are paying off

“API-first leaders” (i.e., respondents who rank themselves a nine or ten for embracing an API-first philosophy) produce APIs more quickly, deploy more frequently, have fewer failures, and recover more swiftly when failures occur. For example, 46% of API-first leaders indicated they could recover from API failure in less than an hour, compared to 34% of all respondents.

If you’re interested in digging deeper and learning more about the API-first world, head over to the Postman website to read the entire 2021 State of the API report.