2021 State of the API Report

Postman State Of The API Report Postmanauts researching ontop of graphs. Illustration.

Executing on APIs

Time to production

We asked survey participants how long it typically takes to conceive, implement, test, and deliver an API to a production environment. One-third stated that it takes one day to one week, and more than one-third stated that it takes one week to one month. A handful of participants indicated that they can deploy in less than a day (or an hour), and another handful take more than a month to complete the process.

There's also some indication that API-first leaders are able to deploy faster—with 17% being able to deploy an API in a day or less (vs 14% of all respondents).

Less than one hour: 4%
Less than one day: 10%
One day to one week: 33%
One week to one month: 35%
One month to six months: 16%
More than six months: 2%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Deployment frequency

We also asked participants how frequently they deploy APIs to production. The most common response? About one-third stated that they deploy APIs to production between once per week and once per month. Slightly fewer respondents deploy between once per day and once per week, or between once per week and once per month—21% and 28% respectively.

We also found that API-first leaders deploy more frequently, with higher numbers in multiple categories: 9% deploy on a daily basis (vs 6% of all respondents), 27% deploy between once per day and once per week (vs 21% of all respondents), and 36% deploy between once per week and once per month (vs 28% of all respondents).

Once per hour to once per day: 6%
Once per day to once per week: 21%
Once per week to once per month: 34%
Once per month to once per six months: 28%
Fewer than once per six months: 12%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

We deploy APIs to production multiple times a week. We deploy changes as soon as they're completed and tested, and we keep them feature-flagged off until the whole feature is ready to go live.

Sindhu N., Technical Architect

Deployment failures

Next, we asked participants what percentage of their API changes pushed to production experience failure. More than 4 out of 5 developers and API professionals indicated that less than 25% of their changes fail.

API-first leaders were even less likely to experience production failures, with only 13% stating that failures occurred more than a quarter of the time (vs 16% of all respondents).

Less than 25%: 84%
25% - 50%: 12%
51% - 75%: 3%
More than 75% of the time: 1%

Time to recovery

We asked participants how long it typically takes them to recover when APIs fail, and more than 80% of participants indicated they can recover in less than a day, and fully one-third recover in less than an hour.

API-first leaders indicated that they could recover more quickly, with 46% indicating they could recover in less than an hour (vs 34% of all respondents).

In less than one hour: 34%
Between one hour and one day: 48%
Between one day and one week: 13%
Between one week and one month: 4%
More than one month: 1%

Multiple responses allowed.

Obstacles to producing APIs

When asked about the 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%.

Lack of time: 45%
Complexity: 38%
Lack of knowledge: 34%
Lack of people: 34%
Lack of documentation: 31%
Stakeholder prioritization: 30%
Stakeholder expectation (unrealistic/unclear): 30%
Lack of budget: 20%
Lack of tools: 17%
Leadership buy-in: 14%
Team buy-in: 10%

Multiple responses allowed.

Obstacles to consuming APIs

When asked about the biggest obstacle 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.

Lack of documentation: 55%
Complexity: 36%
Lack of knowledge: 33%
Lack of time: 29%
Lack of budget: 20%
Lack of people: 20%
Stakeholder prioritization: 17%
Stakeholder expectations (unrealistic/unclear): 15%
Lack of tools: 15%
Leadership buy-in: 13%
Team buy-in: 11%

Multiple responses allowed.

Great API documentation: That's a discipline that's really lacking, and we try to instill a sense of making sure that we have great documentation for the APIs that we deliver and making sure that we have the technical writers in place to help support them so the developers don't feel like they're left on their own.

James H., API consultant

Collaborating on APIs

When asked how they collaborate, respondents' top answer (with 50%) was "working with API artifacts on a collaboration platform." Next up, with 40%, was publishing API artifacts to GitLab, GitHub, Bitbucket, etc. Also popular includes sharing URLs to API artifacts (38%), publishing API documentation (33%), and sharing API artifacts to Postman workspaces (32%).

Work with API artifacts on a collaboration platform: 50%
Publish API artifacts to GitHub/GitLab/Bitbucket: 40%
Share URL to API artifacts: 38%
Publish API documentation : 33%
Share API artifacts to workspaces: 32%
Share cURL commands via instant messaging: 21%
Email API artifacts: 17%

Multiple responses allowed.

Change management

When it comes to preferred change-management practices, versioning APIs scored the most mentions, at 62%. In succession behind that top response, we find utilizing Git repositories (58%), versioning server code (33%), and versioning client code (26%).

Version APIs: 62%
Utilize Git repositories: 58%
Version server code: 33%
Version client code: 26%
Apply semantic versioning: 20%
We do not version our APIs: 11%

Multiple responses allowed.

API testing

When it comes to API testing, a wide variety of practices are applied, although functional testing (68%) and integration testing (66%) towered over the rest, with no other testing practice coming within ten percentage points of those top two choices.

Functional: 68%
Integration: 66%
Performance: 52%
Security: 45%
Acceptance: 41%
Load: 34%
Workflow: 32%
Contract: 14%
We do not test our APIs: 4%

Multiple responses allowed.

API documentation

We asked how well APIs are documented, and the results resembled a bell curve, with the highest percentage of respondents (26%) indicating that documentation scored a 5 out of 10 (or "okay"). Only 3% of respondents rated APIs they work with as "very well documented."

0 (Not well documented): 2%
1: 4%
2: 6%
3: 10%
4: 11%
5 (Documentation is okay): 26%
6: 11%
7: 13%
8: 10%
9: 3%
10 (Very well documented): 3%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Improving API documentation

What does it take to improve documentation? Our respondents had insights: The most helpful enhancement API producers can make is to provide better examples in the documentation (61%), followed by sample code (56%), and standardization (54%). Respondents also indicated that real-world use cases, better workflows, additional tools, and SDKs were helpful, although to a lesser extent than the top responses.

Better examples: 61%
Sample code: 56%
Standardization: 54%
Real-world use cases: 47%
Better workflow processes: 35%
Up to date: 26%
SDKs: 21%
Additional tools: 20%

Multiple responses allowed.