More non-developers now work with APIs than ever before

A new Postman study found that use of these interfaces expanded far beyond the developer community in 2019.

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Postman released its annual "State of the API" report for 2019, surveying over 10,000 people and finding that more non-developers than ever are now using these interfaces on a daily basis.

Researchers spoke with thousands of developers, users, testers and executives to gain a better understanding of how APIs are used throughout an enterprise. 

Less than half of all respondents said they were either a front-end or back-end developer, which paled in comparison to last year, when nearly 60% said they were. 

The list of positions that now use APIs in some form has expanded to QA engineers, technical team leads, API architects, DevOps specialists, and others. 

"This year's survey data reveals that the API ecosystem is expanding beyond developers," said Abhinav Asthana, Postman's co-founder and CEO. 

"Working directly with APIs has become part of a surprising number of positions, including non-developers such as executives and technical writers, which we think is an intriguing trend."

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API use is also expanding in terms of the experience level of those working with it. Almost 80% of respondents had less than five years of experience and the largest number of those who spoke to Postman only had one year of experience. About 12% had more than 10 or more years experience.

The Postman survey also had a trove of detailed information about how companies construct API teams, how many members these teams have and other information.

"API teams tend to be 10 members or less, with nearly three-quarters of individuals stating that they belong to groups of this size. Large teams are rare; only 1.7% of those taking the survey reported that 50 people or more belong to their team," the report said. 

"When we asked how much time respondents spend working with APIs, we found that 37.3% spend less than 10 hours per week and 35.7% spend 10 - 20 hours per week. The remaining 27% spend more than 20 hours per week, compared to 31.7% in 2018," the survey found.

"Interestingly, the portion of the population spending the most time is not shrinking because they're working on APIs less, but rather the population as a whole is changing—with more new job roles and areas joining the API ecosystem," the study added.

According to the survey, 21% of respondents spend their time developing APIs, while another 22% are debugging and manually testing APIs. About 70% of respondents said they resented that so much of their time was being devoted to testing and debugging activities when they would prefer to devote resources toward designing APIs.

The number of APIs teams work with varied greatly but most of the respondents to the survey said they handle between one and five. About 22% work with six to 10 and 13% handle 50 or more. 

Most respondents said they're learning on the job, with 71% saying they were learning through working and by asking coworkers. Almost 60% said they read through published API documentation while nearly the same number used online resources and classes. 

According to the study, more than 52% of APIs are used by teams and organizations internally. There was a slight shift in the number of APIs that are public or shared with partners. For 2019, nearly 30% of the APIs used were "shared among integration partners" while the percentage of time spent on public APIs openly available on the web dipped 3%. 

The survey found that many people did not have security concerns about APIs despite the near constant news reports of breaches and hacks. More than half of respondents described their APIs as either "very secure," or have "above average security."    

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