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APIs accelerating developer velocity

Development velocity, and ultimately business success, are and will continue to be impacted by the tools devs have available to them.

Mandy Hubbard Sep 1

If you’ve ever worked with an API at any level, you’ve no doubt used the prominent API platform, Postman, and as an industry, we’ve come to rely on the company for guidance. Postman’s 2022 State of the API Report highlights the criticality of dependency management in every software development story, something Architect believes in and why we built our product to facilitate internal discovery. The report also shows that companies remain invested in API development and integration, and API-first companies experience a higher level of success than those for whom API development is an afterthought.

To us, this sends a clear message, development velocity, and ultimately business success, are and will continue to be impacted by the tools devs have available to them. Best in class isn’t optional. We’ve built an entire platform to facilitate internal discoverability, dependency management, deployment, and tight feedback loops for the development of APIs and the applications that consume them. Here are our takeaways for what these findings mean for your development organization.

Developers are spending most of their time on APIs

Most of the respondents indicated that over 51% of their company’s development efforts were spent working with APIs, whether producing or consuming them. One of the drivers for this number is the rise in private APIs for integration between individual components of an application.

This approach is preferable to applications where frontend components communicate with backend code directly or have immediate database access because it avoids tight coupling that introduces challenges to scalability and innovation. Today’s teams build APIs from the start, architecting extensibility and modernization capabilities into their applications from the beginning. With more APIs comes an increasing need for effective dependency management between these APIs and the rest of the application.

The amount of time developers spend with APIs has remained steady since last year’s report with over 40% of backend developers spending more than 20 hours a week. Proper tooling for developers remains a strategic investment in maintaining momentum and making the most of development time. While Postman won by a landslide as the preferred API platform, other tool types for effective API development called out in the report were source code management systems such as GitHub, application monitoring platforms like Elastic and Grafana, CI/CD platforms including GitHub Actions and Jenkins, and API gateways.

API-first leaders outperform

The study indicates that API-first leaders outperform other organizations. Postman defines API-first as defining and designing APIs and underlying schema before developing dependent APIs, applications, or integrations. In other words, API-first organizations make APIs first-class citizens and plan for their development upfront rather than building their APIs on top of a schema that doesn’t easily support business requirements.

For these leaders, the API itself is a product and not simply an additional entry point into the application stack. They reported spending less time on manual testing and debugging than other companies. Investing in APIs and the best tools for developing them, as well as design thoughtfulness necessary to promote those APIs, leads to higher performance across the board.

While private APIs, or those used only within a team or company, remained the leader in this year’s survey, coming in at 58% of respondents, API-first companies reported using a higher percentage of public APIs than private APIs. This indicates that these organizations turn to publicly available APIs from other industry leaders, reducing time spent in development and decreasing maintenance costs, rather than reinventing these APIs in-house. This statistic also bodes well for public API providers.

API-first leaders reported a 35% higher likelihood of increased hiring in the coming year and a 50% greater chance of employee retention. Additionally, 75% of respondents agreed that developers working at companies categorized as API-first are happier than employees at other companies and produce software faster and with higher quality and better security. It’s clear that being API-first is the right approach to building a successful software company.

Internal API integration is paramount

While the ease of integration with internal systems and applications didn’t even make the top three considerations in last year’s report, this year it was cited as the leading factor in deciding whether to produce or consume an API. As mentioned above, organizations now build private APIs to interface with components within an internal application stack, even if they will never be consumed externally, creating more demand for internal private API integration. Additionally, respondents listed microservices architecture as the technology they were most looking forward to working on, another indication that a solid dependency management solution is critical.

Difficulty in discovering APIs was listed as a leading obstacle to consuming APIs. The focus on integration means that discoverability and dependency management are key success factors for organizations that produce and consume APIs, and investment in the proper tooling for dependency versioning and discovery is crucial to increasing developer velocity.

Learn more about API integration and dependency management

APIs dominate the software industry, and we are excited to be a part of the API ecosystem with dependency management, discovery, and deployment. To learn more, check out these other posts on the blog:

As always, feel free to hit us up with comments and suggestions on Twitter at @architect_team!