Global Survey Shows API Quality and Standardization Challenges Increase as API Adoption Fast-Tracks with Pandemic

Enterprise concerns for API standardization top list of challenges as more organizations turn to OpenAPI as de facto API industry standard
Somerville — August 25, 2020 —

SmartBear, a leading provider of software development and quality tools, has released its 2020 State of API Report. This year’s findings show standardization remains a top challenge for more than 58% of organizations, particularly large enterprises, as they scale API development. Problems with lack of standardization and subsequent quality are coming to light as many companies fast-track API adoption and accelerate digital initiatives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because API standardization directly impacts the ability to consistently deliver the best customer experiences, it’s a top priority for enterprises.

The 2020 State of API Report is the first such survey conducted during COVID-19, and more than 3,500 responses were received from May to June 2020 from API developers, architects, testers, and product leaders. The survey provides insights across different aspects of the API lifecycle, including API design, development, documentation, testing, and monitoring. It also studies trends in technologies, standards, and tooling that are reshaping the API ecosystem.

Key findings include:

  1. 58% of organizations list standardization as a top API challenge
  2. Microservices drive API growth according to 65% of respondents
  3. 82% of respondents cite OpenAPI as the dominant API standard
  4. More than 50% cite cloud service provider as their choice for API management 
  5. 64% cite internal interoperability as biggest driver for API development

“We are grateful to this global community for providing their insights, especially during a pandemic,” said Cynthia Gumbert, Chief Marketing Officer at SmartBear. “Businesses are accelerating digital transformation using APIs at a pace never conceived of just a few months ago, while needing to provide even higher quality service to their customers. A clear takeaway from this report is that API standardization has escalated from a good practice to a must-have in order to survive and thrive.”

For the second year in a row, standardization was the top API challenge that organizations want solved in the near future. Standardization was especially a concern among organizations that need to scale API development across distributed development teams. In terms of API design frameworks to aid standardization, the OpenAPI Specification (formerly known as Swagger) remains the overwhelming choice for standardization, according to 82% of survey respondents.

“Every year, I hear how more and more people depend on the OpenAPI Specification to help them in their API work,” said Marsh Gardiner, Google Cloud Product Manager and OpenAPI Initiative Marketing Chair. “The growth in popularity of the OpenAPI Specification further underscores the importance of a standard for defining APIs. Increasing developer agility is now more important than ever, and standards-based approaches make that possible.”

SmartBear is the sponsor of two of the largest open source API and web services communities, Swagger and SoapUI. In 2015, SmartBear launched the Open API Initiative (OAI) under The Linux Foundation with key industry leaders including Google, IBM, and Microsoft. The goal of the OAI is to create an open approach to governing the continued evolution of the Swagger Specification used for describing RESTful APIs.

Upcoming webinar

SmartBear API experts are discussing the key findings in the report in a live webinar on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. Register here:

The 2020 State of API Report is available for download at:

About SmartBear

SmartBear is pioneering innovation in software development, embracing AI’s transformative potential. The company’s AI-powered intuitive solution hubs, featuring HaloAI, give software development teams around the world visibility into end-to-end quality. SmartBear is trusted by over 16 million developers, testers, and software engineers at 32,000+ organizations – including innovators like Adobe, JetBlue, FedEx, and Microsoft. With an active peer-to-peer community, SmartBear meets customers where they are to help make our technology-driven world a better place. The company is committed to ethical corporate practices, including responsible AI that integrates accountability and transparency across its technology stack, and to social responsibility, promoting good in all the communities it serves. Learn more at, or follow on LinkedIn, X, or Facebook.