2021 State of the API Report

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

A Day, Week, or Year in the Life

Time spent with APIs

When it comes to the amount of time developers are spending with APIs, we saw some shifts this year. In 2021, 39% of respondents spent 10-20 hours per week working with APIs, compared to 36% in 2020; 28% of respondents in this year’s survey spent 20 or more hours per week working with APIs, compared to just shy of 25% in 2020.

< 10 hours a week: 33%
10 - 20 hours/week: 39%
> 20 hours/week: 28%

API time allocation

When asked how individuals allocate the time they spend with APIs, more than two-thirds of their time was allocated to activities other than coding/programming APIs.

Within primary job functions, developers spend more time coding and programming APIs than those in other job functions—39% for full stack and backend developers, 31% for frontend developers. Quality engineers spend more time on automated testing (31%) and debugging (31%). Something that came as a bit of surprise is that even senior technical leaders spend substantial time coding and programming APIs: VPs of product, VPs of engineering, SVPs of engineering, and CTOs reported spending 29%, 31%, 32%, 37% respectively.

Coding/programming APIs: 31%
Debugging and manual testing: 16%
Automated testing: 11%
Designing and mocking APIs: 9%
Managing others who use APIs: 6%
API documentation: 6%
Meeting about APIs: 5%
Managing API artifacts,(e.g., schema, documentation, etc.): 4%
Collaborating on APIs: 4%
API monitoring: 4%
Publishing APIs: 3%
Writing about APIs: 2%

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

I spend most of my work time focusing on integrating API data changes into networked systems for further data processing. Also, a big part of my work is to verify that APIs have not changed/broken connected systems and to ensure APIs perform fast and reliably."

Dennis A., Engineering Team Lead

API time allocation: ideal state

We also asked participants where they thought they should spend their time with APIs. As we saw in 2020, the biggest difference between actual time spent and ideal time spent: debugging, 16% versus 10%, respectively.

Within primary job functions, developers—including backend, frontend, and full stack—and quality engineers alike felt that they should be spending more time on automated testing than they do today.

Coding/programming APIs: 30%
Automated testing: 15%
Designing and mocking APIs: 10%
Debugging and manual testing: 10%
Managing others who use APIs: 5%
API documentation: 7%
API monitoring: 5%
Writing about APIs: 3%
Publishing APIs: 3%
Collaborating on APIs: 5%
Meeting about APIs: 4%
Managing API artifacts,(e.g., schema, documentation, etc.): 4%

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

API development effort

When asked to rate the percentage of their organization’s development effort spent working with APIs, 49% of respondents said that more than half of their organization's development effort is spent on APIs—compare that to just over 40% last year.

1% - 10%: 4%
11% - 20%: 8%
21% - 30%: 11%
31% - 40%: 12%
41% - 50%: 15%
51% - 60%: 11%
61% - 70%: 13%
71% - 80%: 13%
81% - 90%: 6%
91% - 99%: 1%
100%: 5%

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

Number of developers in the organization

We continue to find an interesting dichotomy in the number of developers at organizations. Respondents from organizations with more than 500 developers were most common, at 24%; however, the next largest category—those with fewer than 10 developers—accounted for 23% of respondents. In general, when compared to last year's data, there was a notable shift toward larger organizations.

Fewer than 10: 23%
10-25: 15%
26-50: 9%
51-100: 11%
101-250: 10%
251-500: 8%
501+: 24%